Update on City of Austin Strategic Committee for CSVP

That stands for Community Service, Volunteerism and Philanthropy BTW. Our last meeting was a sparsley attended due to SXSW ramp up but we had a packed agenda. They Mayor’s City of service staff  met with 46 Austin-area nonprofits and collected their insights on organizational and community challenges and solutions. Organizations that were invited to participate cut across issue areas and had a substantial budget, operating administration, and well-established community ties. Here were the three themes they heard over and over. Nothing surprising here for me.

1) Number of Nonprofits
Austin’s unusually high number of nonprofits increases competition for the limited amount of available funding and resources. Also, many organizations are duplicating existing services, exacerbating competition and weakening collaboration. The sheer number of organizations is overwhelming for citizens who utilize services and potential volunteers, making it difficult to identify the missions and services offered by each nonprofit.

2) Funding
Many nonprofits feel that the current structure of grant funding is not sustainable and biased to new and small nonprofits. Such bias creates additional struggle for established organizations to maintain services. As previously mentioned, this perpetuates the creation of nonprofits, competition, and inefficiency. Additionally, Austin’s individual and corporate giving falls short of what is expected, and engaging large donors and corporations may fill significant portions of the funding gap.

3) Poverty
Austin’s increasing poverty rate and the growing physical gap between rich and poor are crucial problems. The lack of affordable housing in central Austin pushes those living in poverty further into more suburban and rural areas with less access to services. Wealth disparity in the city is vast and a lack of awareness of, even apathy toward, the economic gap is common. These conditions show that systemic inequality and discrimination continue to create barriers to economic mobility and reinforce poverty.

Those should be pretty easy for us to solve, right? 🙂 More to come as we tackle some of the strategies and tactics below those issues in upcoming meetings.

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