Friday, February 03, 2006

Community Shares of Texas

Texas AIDS Network joined together with a small group of statewide non-profit organizations in 1991 and 1992 to form a workplace giving federation called "Another Way." In time, Another Way affiliated with Community Shares USA to expand its capacity and credibility, changing its name to Another Way Texas Shares.

Today AWTS changed its name yet again, becoming Community Shares of Texas. I supported the change, but I'm still a bit sad to see "Another Way" disappear.

Way back in the old days, a mere 15 years ago, there was no workplace giving federation for statewide organizations. The philosophy of charitable giving was--and largely still is--that local funds should support local organizations. Statewide organizations--like Texas AIDS Network, for a very fine example--do, however, provide services in local communities across the state. Indeed, they often provide their services in areas where no local organization exists for the community that they serve. And, of course, some issues are simply larger than a local community and must be considered in a statewide context. It made sense to try to create an organization that would allow statewide charities to seek support from individuals who wanted to donate to their work despite the fact that the charity itself might not have an office right down the block.

Way back in those old days there was another reason for wanting a new workplace giving federation, and that, indeed, was part of the origins of "Another Way" as both name and concept. There was, to be sure, already an existing and very large workplace giving federation that operated in most Texas communities both then and now. Yet, as we polled our member organizations in 1991 and 1992, we repeatedly heard the same story: AIDS service and prevention organizations were simply not accepted by that federation for funding. It became urgent to create a mechanism for those organizations to participate in workplace giving campaigns through a new federation.

Times change, and then, again, they don't. While the name of Another Way Texas Shares has changed, it still serves an important purpose for Texas AIDS Network and the Texas HIV/AIDS community. As a statewide charity, Texas AIDS Network is both proud to participate in an organization that shares its hopes and dreams for a better Texas and grateful for the support which Another Way Texas Shares has provided through the years by opening doors for us to many public and private workplace giving campaigns. Local AIDS organizations, such as Beat AIDS in San Antonio and the PWA Coalition in Houston, also benefit from the welcome mat that AWTS has so willingly placed out for us.

I have every confidence in the future of Community Shares of Texas and look forward to many more years of productively working together.

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