On March 24th, a collection of local and national nonprofit practitioners, CDFIs and other intermediaries, investors, and advisors gathered in Austin to explore opportunities to build a more robust network for community investment. The purpose of the day was to discuss the current state of community investment in the city.
Next Street was hired by the Austin Community Foundation and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation to develop an up-to-date understanding of the current level, demand, and challenges of community investment in Austin. The data we analyzed revealed areas where the city is excelling and where it has an opportunity to do more.
Community investment in Austin would need to be increased by 10x just to match the national per capita average of investment across all sectors. Next Street found that there is a significant gap in resources flowing to affordable housing. Nationally, 48% of community investment is channeled towards affordable housing, while only about 25% of Austin’s community investment is directed to the same sector. However, data shows that Austin is a leader in entrepreneurship – almost 46% of its community investment funds are directed to supporting small businesses, an effort that is well above the national average of 25%.
The organizations at the convening discussed how philanthropy, nonprofit practitioners, intermediaries, advisors, and other key stakeholders could collaborate to grow Austin’s community investment. Austin has a robust set of nonprofit practitioners that are seeking investment but there are not enough intermediaries who can help them effectively access a broader range of capital to scale their impact. If they could combine grants with both concessionary and traditional debt, local organizations would be able to leverage dollars to move Austin closer to the national average of community investment.