Creating a great place to live and work

We are happy to share the journey towards establishing the Ferencváros Community Foundation with English speaking members of the  community (Budapest, district 9), together with its occasional guests or fans. Besides, we call out for an international audience, too, who are interested in the work of the first community foundation in Hungary.

First of all we would like to reach out to those who feel an attachment or connection with Ferencváros, the 9th district of Budapest, where the community foundation works.  We know that many foreign students study and live here, we also know that people from all over the world work in this district, that many more visit the areas, and that there are many others who are connected to the district on a daily basis.  We also believe that our English-language section would be of interest to those who have family or other roots in Ferencváros, who are interested in its life and people, who have some memories of the area.  If you have an attachment to the district we are interested in hearing from you, and are ready to work with you for the development of the district and improving the quality of life of the community.

Those who would like to know more about our district we suggest a visit to Wikipedia.

We also believe that there might be interest in our work from community foundations in other countries. As a way to reciprocate all the support, good advise and encouragement we have received over the years from our colleagues from all over the world, we are happy to share our news, experiences and ideas with our fellow travellers. And of course we are eager to have your feedback so that we can keep on learning from you.

We define ourselves as a community foundation. For those who are not familiar with the concept, we suggest to visit the site of the Worldwide Initiative for Grantmaker Support’s site on community foundations, where you can learn the basic definitions, facts and figures of this ever-growing global movement.

Are you interested in what happened to Ferencváros Community Foundation in H1 2016? Just read our director’s subjective report!

Coat after the Buttons

This spring I was asked at a workshop on branding, how we would like people to see us, Ferencváros Community Foundation, let’s say by the end of the year. That time I replied, I want us to be seen reliable, i.e. people who do what they talk about and they do it transparently; plucky, i.e. modern and experimental and open, where any stakeholder in the district will turn to with pleasure and trust. Taking a look back, I feel, we are on the right way.

logo_AcademyThis year has started really well. It was even worth finalising the translations of a professional programme with one of my fellow trustees from the cafeteria of a shopping mall on the phone in the middle of the Christmas rush, since we won again (close to one and a half million forints) at the tender supporting community foundations of the Visegraad countries announced by the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Warsaw. We basically applied for and received help for institutional development and to prepare our new adaptation experiment. Thanks to this the amount of my wage for my (new) position as director could be supplemented and I was able to select an excellent office manager, Flóra Lucza who is a member of the Trafó team with cultural relationships in the district.  Establishing the conditions for the position of director also indicated the demand of the Board of Trustees that we have started to pull on the coat to which we had been collecting the buttons only for years. The desire to operate as a more professionally managed organisation after our first four years, has appeared more obviously than ever in the decision of the Board of Trustees bringing great responsibility and also giving trust.

önkéntes _tal_In January we organised two forward-looking events to establish traditions. First we thanked our indispensable volunteers for their work, giving the Volunteer of the Year Award shared between graphic designer Réka Balogh and photographer, cameraman Balázs Pivarnyik in Élesztőház supporting FCF. Then we convened the corporate sponsors of „Aput a Kapuba”  (Daddy the Goallie) Cup in Ferencváros which was organised successfully for 5 years to an extraordinary stand-up night showing a lot of similarity with us even in its title, the performance of Tamás Jordán called Against the Wind and the following talk.

BELSŐ-FERENCVÁROS NAPThanks mainly to the steady background work of our trustee, Tamás Scsaurszki, the leader of our Inner Ferencváros Fund, just a little more than HUF 300 thousand was missing to collect the needed HUF 1 million in the Fund by spring from which we can give donations for local community programmes.  Our fundraising campaign Inner Ferencváros Day was mainly started for this purpose with exciting and exclusive walks in the Central Market Hall and the Museum of Applied Arts and a Charity Auction of Facebook with relics from nine well-known local people.
radioraday_licitálokkalOn the other hand we aim to help the stakeholders of this part of the district get closer to each other, to create a discussion about what living in Inner Ferencváros is like today, what we love in it and what we would like to see around ourselves. Our civil Internet radio with a local atmosphere, Radio Ráday was first on air from Púder with the support of Tilos Radio. You can listen to the first programme here. We raised HUF 376 thousand in the campaign, exceeding our desired goal. The Board of Trustees is working on determining the potential ways of using this amount and we also plan a community radio programme on 15th October 2016 before the final decision. The Fund was directly supported by over ten private individuals and entrepreneurs and the number indirect participants and supporters was above fifty people; dozens of articles recommended our campaign with acknowledgement and two extraordinary volunteers helped our work: Ferenc Dávid community radio speaker and Béla Krumpli photographer and blogger.

swimathon úszók integetDreaming about this new programme started with a study tour in Cluj-Napoca, then we organised the first Hungarian Swimathon 2016 fundraising event on 18th June this year. Seventy civilians swam in the Kőér Street swimming pool and had campaigned, raised funds for the cases appreciated by them. Together with the three cooperating NGO partners we raised over HUF 8 million from almost 1,400 donations. The supported cases included the Mother Ship Mothers’ Centre (Mother Ship Association) joining families with small children; the plan of a Recovery Centre for people with addiction problems (Blue Point Foundation); the expansion of Démétér House accommodating bone marrow transplanted children and their families for follow-up treatment (Démétér Foundation) and the Fix Point Programme strengthening the operation of Ferencváros Community Foundation popularising local community donation. The implementation of the supported programmes shall start in autumn the latest. The real moving power and success of the campaign however cannot only be measured by the amount of money raised. We have stepped over an important border that we had not had an event moving such a great crowd of people before. We involved dozens of volunteers to implement the programme with the partnership of private donors, small and medium enterprises as well as large companies through the joint work and efforts of four NGOs that had not cooperated before.  We managed to bring several local NGOs and businesses closer that may have been kept separately by fear only. We, civilians often feeling paralysed and in the lack of tools could see that there are techniques available for us in fundraising and the campaign also showed that the so-called hard cases can also get more attention once placed in an easily loveable environment. It was important for us that everybody could give something (money, expertise, volunteer work, products) to their community on their own ways as it was most suitable for them. The Swimathon became a fundraising event, a great public “game” in which everybody’s participation was at least as important as the money raised. Cooperating with the Közös Alapon Programme (Community Foundation Support Programme) established to develop community foundations in Hungary we plan to summarise and disseminate the know-how and experiences of the campaign. See further Swimathon 2016 information at our website here.

You can find the independent campaign site here  and you can watch our video of the event here (with English subtitles).

The President of the Board of Trustees, Gabriella Benedek participated at the international convention of community foundations held for the migration case in Brussels. The FCF also established a work-group for migrations and we have started to map up whom and what NGOs have given what answers to manage the migration crisis. Being locals in Ferencváros, we think it is important to become informed and to inform for a colourful and welcoming district and to do so actively in the future.

infografikák_kuratorok_talánSince we had a fundraising campaign early this summer larger scale than ever and the rate of donations raised by FCF significantly increased this year, we felt it was particularly urgent to consider two professional methodological issues more thoroughly. First, how exactly the supporting policy of FCF shall look like in the future and how to measure the effect of the community programmes we support on the community. Second, how shall we follow the supported organisation through the implementation process, i.e. what may and should the role and task of the following trustees be. We discussed these questions a lot at the strategic design days for boards of trustees held in Pécs in early July this year and we shall continue to think about this together in autumn. Our trip was also a study tour, a visit to the second registered community foundation in Hungary, the Pécs Community Foundation. We are glad to have followers and we hope to celebrate the operation of similar organisations elsewhere with the support of the countrywide Közös Alapon programme.

Erika Barna



Budapest, 15th August 2016


Journey Notes (July-December, 2014)

The Ferencváros Community Foundation (FCF) is a trustee-led organisation, and this year one of our most important tasks was appointing new trustees.  While this was something new for us, it helped us to realise how much progress and even traditions we have built up over the past years….

FCF defines itself as a trustee-led organisation which means that all important decisions are taken together by the trustees. Trustees also do a lot of the daily work; as a result they are well informed about all the activities of the foundation, the issues it’s facing, and have a strong sense of ownership. Therefore the single most important task in the second half of 2014 was the appointment of new trustees, for the next three-year period.

The appointment was also a good opportunity to conduct an internal review of FCF’s work, since the foundation was registered at the end of 2011.  They were satisfied with the results of our work so far, we had laid strong cornerstones, established a dedicated team of trustees, honorary trustees and volunteers, given a good taste of our work to the district’s community where more and more people know us, and become known as the first community foundation in Hungary.

Trustees and honorary trustees played a hugely important role in all of this:  They gave their name to FCF to make it into a credible, trusted organisation in the community, spared no efforts in promoting the community foundation concept and the specific activities of the foundation, contributed their own money as well as time and other resources to help raise funds locally for the operations and programmes of FCF, and used their extensive social networks to root the foundation locally.  Without the trustees and their hard work, the Ferencváros Community Foundation is unimaginable!

It is with great pleasure we report that all nine ‘old’ trustees decided to stay on as ‘new’ trustees.  As for honorary trustees, Zoltán Kucsera and László Nándori will continue to serve FCF; they are joined by Judit Fleischer, Rute Viais and Elica Winchester.



Elica lives in Ferencváros and she has her own travel agency and event organising company based in the district.  For Elica, FCF is in the same kind of work as her company: it is an opportunity to enrich the lives of people in the district, through more events, activities, businesses, etc.







Rute, a native of Portugal, lives and works in Budapest and sees FCF as a perfect ‘means’ to pursue her interest in learning about new cultures and communities and bringing them closer to each other.




Judit is also a resident in the district, well rooted in the local community, and has served FCF in the last year as our first employee.








We were sad that József Répási left us, but we remain grateful for his persistent encouragement and financial support.

Another new landmark in our work was the development of a three-year plan for 2015-2017.  The plan grew out of the internal review and aims to provide a strategic framework for the development of FCF.  Among other things, we have reaffirmed the most important principle of our work: we are committed to develop our community primarily from local resources, including money, time, and ideas from the community.  In the next three years we would like to become a sustainable and reliable community institution with a good understanding of our community, regular grant-making, on-going local fund-raising, commitment to bringing different community actors together and building our endowment.  The full plan (called the End of Heroic Beginnings) is available in Hungarian on our website and will be soon translated to English.

In the autumn we also launched a project (supported by a grant from the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland), which will transform our communication with the community.  Instead of using professionals, we decided to work with volunteers representing our major target groups such as residents, owners of local SMEs, students and people working in the district.  We are hoping that our volunteers, after receiving practical on-the-job training and with guidance from an expert, will be able to produce communication that is more credible and personal and will better catch the attention of the community.  The first experience of this new approach will be during February 2015 when we will be promoting the call for proposals to transform community places.

Other highlights of the period included:

– In the summer we paid a study visit to the Cluj Community Foundation, where we peeped into the finishing touches of the organising of, as well as had a look at the Swimathon event itself. It was very inspiring, we all felt like seeing a new and successful way of fundraising that can, and have to be implemented into our community. We hope to realise it in 2016, keeping in mind its complexity. We are very grateful to the Community Foundation Support Programme in Hungary for supporting our trip, and for the Cluj CF for sharing their knowledge and ideas with us, especially at the very last moments before the realizing of this big yearly event.

– Erika and Judit on behalf of FCF took part in the ‘20th anniversary of community foundations in the Visegrad Region’ study visit and conference in September, and had benefited from the long term experiences of our neighbouring countries’ CFs.

– We won a special prize in the ‘Tell me your story’ competition organised by the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland with our prezi. The story introduced our team of trustees as a group of adventurers, pursuing the magical ‘blue bird’ of happiness (and realising our dreams) from Maurice Maeterlinck‘s famous book.

– Erika Barna, our trustee ran a half-marathon and raised more than HUF 350,000 (€1,150) for the Foundation. She had never run such a long distance before, and nobody had raised money for FCF this way before.

– We were invited (together with the Tuzla Community Foundation) by the Board of the Global Fund for Community Foundations to talk about our work, the community foundation field and the best ways how international funders and community foundations can co-operate and support each other.  We were glad that the blue bird inspired trustees of the Global Fund too.

–  In early December we spent two days in London as guests of The Funding Network to study Donor Circles.  We saw (and loved) their event, talked with several key people, studied materials and came away with a strong commitment to organise one in Budapest in 2015.  We are grateful to people in The Funding Network for their friendly and professional guidance!  The study trip was made possible with the support of the C. S. Mott Foundation.

At the end of the year, just before Christmas the blue bird, this time as a symbol of love and compassion (and as the 2014 edition of our annual Christmas event the ‘Calendar of Gifts’), continued her flight over our district bringing the cakes of our volunteers to places where she could rest and even nest, and also to places where she had waited in vain for a long time.  The blue bird asked many people what they wished for Christmas as a present.  Perhaps the most moving wish was made by two homeless people living in the subway: ‘An undisturbed, peaceful day … at least one quiet, peaceful day during 2015.’


Be our partner, supporter, friend!

If you are interested in our work, please do visit our website and/or see us on facebook regularly. Also please feel encouraged to contact directly Gabriella Benedek, Chairwoman of the Board or Tamás Scsaurszki, Trustee, via e-mail (ferencvarosi.ka@gmail.com) or their mobile (Gabriella +70/613 1965, Tamás +20/243 8491) to get more details about our activities and plans.


Do you want to read more?

You can continue reading the previous chapters of our story from 2013 and 2014