If giving back is on your gift list, then consider donating to one of Austin's many social service oriented nonprofits this holiday season. These organizations may differ in their missions, but they are all working hard to create a safer, more inclusive city for all.
Throughout the year, CultureMap has been highlighting organizations that make our communities a better place as part of our new Austin Charity Guide. As you embark on a season of celebration with friends and family, consider supporting one of the many charities and nonprofits that work within the Austin community. And know of one we missed? Tell us here.
Art From the Streets
Mission: Art From the Streets provides a safe and encouraging environment in which the positive spirit and creativity of homeless and formerly homeless people is nurtured through artistic expression, and provides them with a source of pride and income through the sale of their work. The benefits that these "artists from the streets" have experienced from their hard work include greater emotional and financial stability, improved self-esteem, and personal growth.
Get involved: AFTS will gladly find something to suit your talents, abilities, and schedule. Head here for volunteer information.
Big event: Give Art a Home
Asian Family Support Services of Austin
Mission: Asian Family Support Services of Austin provides assistance to Asian and other immigrant families dealing with domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking. Its mission is to promote abuse-free Asian communities through advocacy, support, awareness, and access to social services. While AFSSA's focus is on the Asian community, they do not discriminate and their services are for anyone who needs assistance.
Get involved: AFSSA offers myriad volunteer opportunities, including for direct services such as becoming a sexual assault hospital accompaniment volunteer, a helpline/resource line volunteer, and a life skills volunteer, in addition to community education positions such as booth supervisors and research volunteers. Head here for more volunteer information.
Big event: 1,000 Cranes of Peace
Austin Area Urban League
Mission: Austin Area Urban League assists African Americans and disadvantaged citizens in the achievement of social and economic equality. Through direct delivery service and advocacy, the AAUL provides programs in education, youth development, workforce training/career development, and housing and emergency home repair.
Get involved: The AAUL has many volunteering opportunities. Head here for more information or call their office at 512-478-7176.
Membership: Membership is offered at various levels, including corporate memberships, and helps ensure ensure that all Austin-area African Americans and disadvantaged individuals live their dream of achieving economic empowerment.
Big event: Equal Opportunity Awards Gala
Mission: Angel House is the soup kitchen ministry of the Austin Baptist Chapel, and serves people who suffer from the lack of basic human needs: food and clothing. Every person who comes for a meal is welcomed, without regard to race, sex, age, color, national origin, religious preference, handicap, or income.
Get involved: Volunteers serve every day from 10 am to 1 pm. The only requirements to volunteer are that you are fit and healthy and want to enjoy that special feeling that comes with reaching out and helping someone else. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Mission: Austin Clubhouse exists to provide acceptance and empowerment so adults living with mental health diagnoses can pursue personal goals and play a meaningful role as co-workers, colleagues, family members, neighbors, and friends.
Get involved: To make a donation or for more information on giving to Austin Clubhouse, call 512-925-5877 or email email@example.com.
Membership: Austin Clubhouse is looking for passionate individuals to represent Austin Clubhouse and raise awareness in the community. For more information, head here.
Big event: Working for Wellness
Austin Empty Bowl Project
Mission: The Austin Empty Bowl Project is an effort by Austin-area potters to fight hunger. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, AEBP invites the public to select their favorite from thousands of locally crafted ceramic bowls, have it filled with gourmet soup and bread, and listen to live music while enjoying the lunch. The $20 donation goes to Kids Cafe, a program of the Central Texas Food Bank, and Meals for Kids, a program of Meals on Wheels Central Texas.
Get involved: AEBP welcomes bowl donations from potters and pottery students. Fill out a donation form here. For other volunteer opportunities, head here.
Big event: Austin Empty Bowl Project Preview Party
Austin Open Door
Mission: Austin Open Door serves Austin's homeless and working poor men, women, and children by providing a substantial meal and operating a clothing store every Saturday morning of the year (including holidays).
Get involved: Open Door is operated 100 percent by volunteers within the Austin community. For additional information on volunteer opportunities, contact Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Austin Parks Foundation
Mission: Austin Parks Foundation partners with the community to enhance people's lives by making Austin's public parks, trails, and green spaces better through volunteerism, innovative programming, advocacy, and financial support.
Get involved: During the citywide volunteer event It's My Park Day, thousands of citizens come together to help improve and transform parks, trails, and greenbelts throughout Austin. To volunteer, head here.
Membership: APF’s Ambassador Program consists of trained volunteers who act as representatives for APF. Benefits include unique APF merchandise, networking and educational opportunities, leadership development, and advance invitations to volunteer at APF-related events including Party for the Parks and Austin City Limits Music Festival. To apply, head here.
Big event: Party for the Parks
Bake a Wish
Mission: Bake a Wish bakes birthday cakes for the orphaned, disabled, or elderly locals who wouldn't otherwise have their birthday acknowledged. What started out as a simple confectionery gesture has grown into a nonprofit that provides cheer to the Austin community.
Get involved: Bake a Wish is entirely volunteer-run, and is always looking for help baking and/or or collecting baking and monetary donations. A variety of skill levels are welcome, from novice to professional. Email email@example.com to fill out a volunteer form.
Caritas of Austin
Mission: Caritas of Austin works to build well-being by making sure that people have a safe home, access to healthy groceries, jobs that provide a reliable living wage, and educational opportunities to learn life skills.
Get involved: Volunteers help Caritas of Austin end homelessness. Head here for more information on getting involved.
Membership: Learn how to donate here.
Big event: Words of Hope
Central Texas Food Bank
Mission: The Central Texas Food Bank is the largest hunger-relief charity in Central Texas. It works with food donors across the country, financial supporters, and volunteers to fill unmet needs in Central Texas through three key ways: by sharing free food and knowledge on low-cost, healthy eating with families in need; assisting families who qualify for federal assistance programs; and making food affordable for charitable and government partners.
Get involved: For more information on how to volunteer, head here.
Big event: Austin Restaurant Weeks
Dress for Success
Mission: The mission of Dress for Success is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and development tools to help them thrive in work and in life.
Get involved: Clothing donations can be taken to any of the Westbank Dry Cleaning locations or to Dress for Success Austin at 701 Tillery St., Suite A5, where donations are accepted Monday-Thursday, 9 am-4 pm or Saturday from 10 am-2 pm. For a list of accepted clothing, head here. Learn how to volunteer here.
Big event: Little Black Dress Soiree
Mission: HorseLink provides renewed purpose and a loving, permanent home to horses in need, as well as equine-assisted learning programs for people that deliver self-discovery and empowerment.
Get involved: There are many volunteer opportunities, ranging from a Horse Buddy or Barn Buddy, helping out with special events and during fundraising campaigns, or corporate volunteering. Details on these options and more can be found here.
Big event: Saddle Up Austin!
Inside Books Project
Mission: Inside Books Project is an Austin-based community service volunteer organization that sends free books and educational materials to prisoners in Texas. Inside Books is the only books-to-prisoners program in Texas, where over 140,000 people are incarcerated. Inside Books Project works to promote reading, literacy, and education among incarcerated individuals and to educate the general public on issues of incarceration.
Get involved: Donate books or magazines to the organization. Consider volunteering to make personalized packages of reading materials to inmates. For more information, head here.
Membership: Donate here.
Keep Austin Beautiful
Mission: Keep Austin Beautiful provides resources and education to engage citizens in building more beautiful communities. KAB has five areas of focus: clean; beautify; recycle; educate; and recognize, which is about honoring the most outstanding environmental efforts of individuals, schools, and organizations.
Get involved: Keep Austin Beautiful offers year-round volunteer engagement opportunities. View and register for projects here, or visit the calendar to see more opportunities.
Big event: Each April, Keep Austin Beautiful hosts Clean Sweep, a county-wide service day spanning over 131 sites in 31 ZIP codes throughout Austin and Travis County.
Mobile Loaves & Fishes
Mission: Mobile Loaves & Fishes is the largest prepared feeding program to the homeless in Austin, and has spawned similar food truck programs in other cities across the country. Mobile Loaves & Fishes is also the visionary organization behind Austin's innovative Community First! Village — a 27-acre master-planned development that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for the disabled, chronically homeless in Central Texas.
Get involved: Volunteers are the backbone of Mobile Loaves & Fishes' food truck ministry. Learn how to volunteer here.
Membership: Everyday Angels support Mobile Loaves & Fishes with a monthly gift, enabling volunteers to bring relief and hope to those living on the streets.
Mission: Preservation Austin promotes our city's diverse cultural heritage through the preservation of historic places. The nonprofit has been Austin’s leading voice for preservation since 1953, with educational programming and advocacy that engage the community in "saving the good stuff."
Get involved: Volunteer for committees and/or our various events throughout the year.
Membership: Membership levels range from $25 for full-time students, $50 for an individual, $75 for a household, $100 for Partner, and on up. There are also levels for business members at $250 and $500. Learn more here.
Big event: The annual Preservation Homes Tour and Preservation Merit Awards Luncheon
Sustainable Food Center
Mission: Sustainable Food Center's mission is to cultivate a healthy community by strengthening the local food system and improving access to nutritious, affordable food. SFC envisions a food-secure community where all children and adults grow, share, and prepare healthy, local food.
Get involved: Learn how to volunteer here.
Membership: Learn how to become a member of the SFC Sustainer Circle here.
Big event: Farm to Plate
The Austin Center for Grief & Loss
Mission: The Austin Center for Grief & Loss assists adults and children as they move from loss to life through support, therapy, education, training, and consultation throughout the greater Austin area.
Get involved: Learn how to donate here. There are numerous ways you can support hope, healing, and transformation through volunteering. Learn more about how to volunteer here.
Big event: Holder of Hope
The Trail Foundation
Mission: The Trail Foundation's mission is to preserve, enhance, and connect the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike-Trail for the benefit of all.
Get involved: The best way to get involved with The Trail Foundation is to become a member. Learn more here. For volunteer opportunities and other unique TTF projects, head here.
Membership: Head here to view all the membership levels and associated perks as well as the awesome TTF swag items.
Big event: Maudie's Moonlight Margarita Run and Party
United Way for Greater Austin
Mission: United Way for Greater Austin brings people, ideas, and resources together to fight poverty in the community. They address these complex problems from every angle by caring for immediate needs, confronting stubborn challenges, and convening for change.
Get involved: Whether it's by donating your time, money, or talents, there are many ways to make Austin greater. Learn how to donate here. For volunteer opportunities, head here.
Membership: Learn about the United Way's giving societies here.
Big event: Ruthless Good
We're constantly updating our Charity Guide, so if you have new information or current details about an organization's big event, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org