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Austin Gives: New Corporate Philanthropy Program Announced

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Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News
Several Austin businesses are joining Austin Gives, a charitable program where companies donate a portion of their profits.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce announced a new program today aimed at supporting corporate philanthropy. Austin Gives encourages local businesses to give at least one percent of their pre-tax earnings to charities and nonprofits, and recognizes them at a community celebration event.

The chamber held a press conference this morning, along with businesses that have signed on as founding partners.  These include both national corporations with local branches and homegrown outfits.  Mayor Lee Leffingwell said he hopes Austin Gives will change the perception of Austin as a low-giving city.

“We have been ranked recently as a low giving city. And it really doesn’t fit our profile. We’re a caring community. And it’s kind of an enigma to figure out what that is. But I think we’ve got to make the effort to reach out to the public and make them aware of that fact. And make them aware that there is a great need and they can help,” said Leffingwell.

Don Kendrick is a regional president of Wells Fargo, an Austin Gives founding partner. He says banks have a responsibility to give back to the community.

“We’re not doing it specifically because of Occupy Wall Street, but we see the need, we’re involved. Our officers here in Austin are involved in over a hundred boards and organizations, so collectively we see the need,” said Kendrick.

Austin Gives is modeled after the 35-year-old Minnesota Keystone Program, founded by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce.