I just spent the morning attending the Austin Community Foundation-sponsored gathering of philanthropists and executive directors from the Central Texas region, “21st Century Philanthropy in Central Texas.” It was an overview of the trends in philanthropy and demographics facing our region. There were various speakers and panelists including philanthropists, corporate and nonprofit leaders, health care professionals, and wealth managers. There were several interesting things that came out of the discussions and presentations. Here are just a few:
The Needs in our Community are Growing:
- 25% of the tremendous increase in the American children under 5 population over the past 6 years has happened in Texas.
- Texas’ population will move from 53% white and 32% Hispanic in 2000 to 59% Hispanic and 24% white by 2040.
- The vast majority of the 20% growth in US school enrollment over the past 20 years is from English as a Second Language student populations.
- The percent of the AISD population in poverty has grown in the last 6 years from 48% to 62%.
- Our supply of physicians, especially specialists, to meet our growing and aging population’s needs is sorely behind.
- Our un- and under-insured populations are growing dramatically.
But perhaps more troubling is that capital for the social sector is lagging behind the obvious growing need.
- Travis county has the lowest health care district tax rate in Texas, and one of the lowest in the country.
- While federal funding for nonprofits is projected to decrease by $21.5 billion between 2005 and 2010, private giving is only projected to grow by $600 million in the same time period.
While the organizations competing for this capital has increased dramatically:
- The number of nonprofits registered in the US has grown more than 7 times (300K to 2.2M organizations) in the last 25 years.
It was really encouraging to see funders come together to look at the trends and start to think about what they can do. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time at the end for a broad discussion of where we go from here. But I’m hopeful that the morning has encouraged thinking about how we grow the capital necessary to meet our changing population’s needs.
Austin is an incredibly wealthy community. Not just in terms of finances, but also in terms of entrepreneurial savvy. We are a smart, adaptable community. I think the time is right for us to look at big, new solutions like growth capital, social investing, venture philanthropy, social entrepreneurship to solve these great challenges before us. It can no longer be business as usual in the social or philanthropic sectors. The challenges before us are too daunting.
To paraphrase one of the panelists today, we are at the crossroads of a political, economic and cultural watershed. In the past, our country has created big, bold solutions to similar adversity and achieved great success. We need to do so again. We need big, bold solutions to the many challenges we face. The time is right for social innovation.