Musician Ray Benson knows the importance of giving back. He even addresses it in his song, “A Little Piece,” which he sang Jan. 8 at the Austin Gives GeneroCity Awards ceremony.
“Every time you give you get some. Give a little piece, a little piece of you,” sang Benson, who is the frontman for Asleep at the Wheel.
That is the message that Benson, who has lived in Austin since the early 1970s, spoke about during the Austin Gives keynote address. As the song suggests, he does give a little piece of himself to the Austin community by being involved in numerous nonprofits, including the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, the St. David’s Foundation, the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve and Ballet Austin.
“Austin has always put a premium on intellectual pursuits and that seems to lead to philanthropy,” Benson said.
Growing up a Jewish Quaker, Benson said he grew up learning that giving back is a regular part of life.
“It’s not that you give to get but it seems to be in the equation that is ‘What do you get?’ If you just get the satisfaction, the happiness, the fulfillment, it enriches your life,” he said.
For businesses that give back, Benson said there is a balance between philanthropy and marketing, of informing the customer about being involved in the community but also raising money for the cause or organization.
“The main thing is how you get it done, get the money to the community,” he said.
Austin Gives is a program started by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and other organizations in 2012. The purpose is to spotlight businesses that give back to the community through donation of time, money, services or goods. Any business can join the program for free.
The Austin Gives GeneroCity awards recognize businesses that go above and beyond in service to the community. Awards are given in three categories based on the size of a business.
For the 2014 awards, Silicon Labs received the Bold Givers award for companies with more than 150 employees, Yellow Cab earned the Big Heart award for 26–150 employees and South Texas Money Management was recognized as the Charitable Champion recipient for companies with fewer than 26 employees.
For more information on the winners or to become an Austin Gives member, visit www.austin.gives.