Courtney Manuel is working to make Austin the most philanthropic city in the country in her new role as the executive director of I Live Here I Give Here.
By Courtney Manuel, Photo by Courtney Runn
I recently entered a new decade in life and with that came reflection and introspection: What can I do to truly make a difference in my community? Am I the best role model I can be? How do I enable change for good? Will I leave this world better than I found it?
For the most part, I was grateful for my answers. But through all this soul-searching, I continued to feel discontent. I couldn’t put my finger on it exactly, but I knew it was time to take a leap, leave my comfort zone, try something new and make an even larger mark in the city I love, Austin.
And then came the job of a lifetime—executive director for I Live Here I Give Here—and the opportunity to be a resource for more than 750 nonprofits and to inspire giving back locally to the community I care about so much.
In January, when I started this new position, the organization was moving into its second decade of service and had just completed a new strategic plan. It was also just one month before I Live Here I Give Here’s flagship program, Amplify Austin Day.
This year’s Amplify Austin Day goal was to raise a whopping $11 million in 24 hours. As a novice spokesperson with more live interviews
than I could count, I took the leap I was looking for, and to my relief, it was a huge success, with $11.2 million raised this year, adding to the
more than $57 million raised in seven past Amplify Austin Days. I was just four weeks on the job, but this was the type of impact I was looking for. It was exhilarating—and exhausting!
I Live Here I Give Here’s vision is simple yet transformational: help Austin become the most philanthropic city in the country. Making that happen is not quite as simple. It will likely take years, but the accolades from Amplify Austin Day are what continue to build our community’s giving-local movement. Last month, we received national attention and praise from The Chronicle for Philanthropy, which featured the success of our giving-day initiative as its May 2019 cover story.
But as I mentioned earlier, Amplify Austin Day is just one piece of the I Live Here I Give Here portfolio. As the new executive director, I am responsible for taking the organization into our next decade with a new strategic plan and a renewed vision. That sounds easy, right?
I can’t solve this giving problem alone. For Austin to become more philanthropic and prosperous for all, everyone must participate. But it is my job to inspire, convene, educate and celebrate everyone in Austin who shares in this vision. I Live Here I Give Here is your resource to find meaningful and unique ways to give back, working with the goal of providing you the tools needed to be successful in your philanthropic journey.
While I have many ideas for new programs to support this work, I Live Here I Give Here will continue to evolve and transform the programs that have already become a launching platform for emerging philanthropists. Programs such as See Jane Give and Give Back Jack, as well as our annual Austin Involved Board Internship Program, help serve hundreds of young givers while educating them about how giving local can become a key component to both their personal and professional lives.
But this is just the start. I’m excited about what the future holds for me and this team. And now I have a new question: Are you ready to join me and our giving movement to build a better city for all, Austin?