The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

Amplify Austin Brings Action

Local Day of Donating Promotes Nonprofits

Amplify Austin Day began in 2012 to get Texans involved in fundraising and philanthropy in their community. In its first year, it raised over $200,000 for local causes–in its twelfth, in 2024, it raised over $10 million. 

Piper Nelson is the executive director at I Live Here, I Give Here, the nonprofit that hosts Amplify Austin Day, an annual event hosted in early March. This year the event spanned from March 6-7 and according to Nelson, the day serves as a simple way for Austinites to make a difference.

“What Amplify Austin does is provide a centralized place, and a community-wide event, to get people excited about giving,” Nelson said. “It’s online, it’s easy, it’s kind of like going shopping. And I think that’s the excitement about it, it’s a day where everyone’s doing the same thing. You’re part of something, you’re part of this huge community-wide event to give back to nonprofits and I think that’s what makes it work.”

The day has been growing in popularity each year, and this year’s was the largest yet, with 730 local nonprofits involved. According to Nelson, the nonprofits joining are all located in central Texas, making direct change in the neighborhoods many LASA students call home.

“There’s amazing work being done in the state of Texas, in the U.S., [and] globally,” Nelson said. “I give money to global women’s organizations, too. But this is our community, and it’s so important that we make sure that our community is taken care of. The people on the ground, in the community, know how to take care of their community.”

Jessie Stewart is the Chief Development Officer at the Trail Conservancy, a local nonprofit organization protecting, enhancing, and connecting Austin’s Roy and Ann Butler Hike-and-Bike trail. According to her, Amplify Austin Day serves as a time to raise funds for areas many overlook.

 “A lot of donations that come in have to be used for a particular project,” Stewart said. “Some of the hardest money to raise at a nonprofit is money to just pay for operations, whatever highest and best use that we have for that money. Amplify Austin helps us to do that and do it in a way that the community can really get behind.”

There are over 12,000 nonprofit organizations in Central Texas, making it a unique realm of community service, according to Nelson. Adding to that, Stewart said that often, these important organizations are just the brainchildren of concerned citizens.

“What I think is cool about the Trail Conservancy is it just started with people, something that they wanted to make happen, and they made it happen,” Stewart said. “So kind of growing out of that initiative [of beautification], the Trail Conservancy started.”

What Amplify Austin does is provide a centralized place, and a community-wide event, to get people excited about giving.

— Piper Nelson

Nelson shared this sentiment and discussed how many of the nonprofits Amplify Austin Day supports are small, local organizations that mean a lot to the communities they involve. Nelson said these organizations save lives in Austin.

“Every time you give to a nonprofit you are supporting your community,” Nelson said. “There’s an organization called We Can Now. They are, on a daily basis, going out and working with people facing homelessness to help get them to housing, but in the meantime doing all the things that they need. What medicine do you need, how can we get you to a doctor’s appointment, how do we fill out your resume, how do we just make sure that you have somewhere warm to sleep tonight.”

According to Nelson, these nonprofits are vital and imperative aspects of Austin. However, Nelson added that without Amplify Austin, they could cease to exist.

“That’s a really small organization, and they don’t have a lot of grant funding,” Nelson said. “So it’s things like Amplify Austin Day that ensure that they have the funds that they need to be able to help those people facing homelessness.”

It’s not all about monetary gifts – Amplify Austin also places emphasis on getting involved with your local community hands-on, according to Nelson. This can be in the form of volunteer work, utilizing your expertise and skills to benefit the organizations, or being on the board.

“We could not care for 300 acres of parkland and a 10-mile trail without all the volunteers that come out to help us with our trash pickup, help us plant plants, wildflower seeds, spread mulch,” Stewart said. “Each year we have nearly 4,000 volunteers come out. That’s huge. We’re a pretty small organization, we’re only 20 staff members. So we could not possibly do it without all those extra hands.”

Nelson said the day changes the way Austinites view each other and creates a more uplifting, beneficial environment. Amplify Austin Day is a small way residents continue to protect and look after organizations making a difference, according to Nelson.

“Everything we can do to educate people in Central Texas, to encourage people in Central Texas, to give back, makes it a better place,” Nelson said. “Not only does it support those nonprofits that are in turn supporting the cats and the dogs and the humans and the parks and everything, but it also just creates this ethos where we live in a community where people take care of each other.”

Giving doesn’t just end after one day, according to Nelson. Donations can always be made to these nonprofits and I Live Here, I Give Here.

“AmplifyATX.org, it’s an online giving day, so you go on and you go shopping for the nonprofits you want to support, you list how much you want to give, and you use your credit card,” Nelson said. “You can also give gifts offline if you want to write a check, or if you want to use a donor-advised fund. You can do all these things, but most people go online to AmplifyATX.org.”

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