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.’