The first six months of 2013 have gone by quickly.  Perhaps because we worked so hard in pursuit of a single idea:  we wanted to “complete the circle“ – to raise enough money, HUF 1 million (about €3,450) for the Foundation’s Children’s Fund, to be able to announce the first ever open call for proposals of the Ferencváros Community Foundation.

We did make grants last year, but in effect it was a closed process.  We also achieved a number of important things – for example we established our strategic goals for the year, and launched several new programmes. However, we were measuring our progress in terms of one thing – whether we raised enough money locally to support worthy projects  which would improve our community.  How did this work out?

At first we thought our glass was half empty …  On one hand, at the end of June, we had to realise that we had not reached our target.  We had raised more than a million forints, but only 580,000 forints of this was for the Children’s Fund and our target was 1 million.  This was a substantial sum for us, but we were still far away from our dream, and this made us reflect on whether the goal was realistic for us at this point in the development of our organisation.  If not, then what should we do differently in the future?

When we looked at these questions we realised that, in fact, our glass was half full!  The goals of our ‘Fill it up’ Spring fundraising campaign were to promote local giving and make our community more aware of our work, as well as raising enough money to carry out the call for proposals in the autumn. To this end, we organised three major events.

i.     In late April, we held the 3rd “Dad in Goal” Football Cup for the district’s elementary schools.  The event was intended to promote sports for children as well as to show local residents how they could use the district’s beautiful public spaces for community events.  The flea market we organised alongside the football was so popular that we were asked to do it regularly so that local residents can get to know each other better.  One of the highlights of the day was the high scoring match between local actors and cafes participating in our ‘Have a soda for Ferencváros‘ programme.  (You can watch a short film of the event if you click here.)

ii.    The next event was the Gathering of Easy Riders, for children between 2 and 5 riding the ever popular plastic motorbikes.  As the philanthropists of the future, we asked them to start practising now: we asked them to give us their broken toys in exchange for lamps and other small bicycle parts.  In spite of the rain, a couple of dozen children gathered and thoroughly enjoyed riding together (click here to watch the film).

iii.   The last event took place on the 1st of June. Together with the local Ferencváros History Association, we organised two walks visiting buildings, squares, and statues to remind us of good deeds done by past philanthropists.  More than 150 people took part of the walks and the quiz afterwards. (If you are interested, you can follow one of the walks here.)

According to the feedback we received, the events were interesting and good, they were attended by hundreds of local residents and supported by dozens of companies and individuals.  We managed to talk about the Ferencváros Community Foundation to a good number of people while we were watching football, bargaining over second-hand clothes, dressed as parents of bikers or walking along our streets.  Therefore, during our regular half-year strategic day in early July, we decided to keep on filling up the glass. So, we will continue to follow our dream, and will renew our fundraising efforts in the second half of the year in order to be able to announce our call for proposal some time later this year.

Other major events/news from the first half of 2013:

We had a fantastic study trip to Banska Bystrica in mid-June to visit the first community foundation in Central and Eastern Europe.  We focused on learning as much as possible about the community foundation’s grant-making practice: how it selects areas where support is most needed; how it promotes its call for proposals and its grant-making in general through the local media and other channels of communication; how it selects worthy projects in a transparent and accountable manner while also involving donors and experts; and how it supports its grantees in addition to providing the cash.  We were also invited to the beneficiary concert for Arusha, the partner community foundation in Tanzania.  We were very impressed by the idea of raising funds here for poorer communities of the world – to make us, people from Central and Eastern Europe realise that we are privileged enough to support others.  In addition to studying hard, eight of us participating on the trip had such a bonding experience that we will never forget!  Thank you Beata and Ida for organising and hosting our visit and to the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland for supporting it.

In the last few months we have been aware that one of the great challenges the community foundation faces is a shortage of manpower.  In other words, there is an increasing amount of work that needs to be done to realise our dreams and the full potential of the community foundation, but the trustees just cannot keep up with it.  So we badly needed people who could join our team to work with us either as trustees or as long-term volunteers doing professional work for the organisation.  We therefore feel extremely lucky that two fantastic people joined our team as core volunteers: Zsuzsa Gyetvai, a young professional film-maker specialised in producing werkfilms for advert spots, and Iván Bardócz, an accomplished economic journalist.  Zsuzsa makes the films and photos at our events, while Ivan writes articles and news items for our home-page and the local electronic paper where we have a special section.

Back in March, we learnt the hard financial figures of our first full year.  In 2012 altogether we raised HUF 1,406,716 (€4,850).  47 % of this money came from regular donations from individuals connected to our district, largely through our 100 Friends of the Ferencváros Community Foundation; 30 % from local SMEs; and we received the remaining 23 % from two district-based larger nonprofits as well as from Civitalis Association which transferred to us the funds it had collected for us while the community foundation was not registered.  Our endowment grew from the initial 100,000 forints to 360,000 forints (€1,240) by the end of the year.  As for our expenditure, the biggest item was HUF 507,500 which was spent on grants.

As always, we spent the first few weeks of the year planning.  We established the community foundation’s major goals for 2013 as follows:

  1. We will play a greater role in shaping our district as before through our events, grant-making, communication and networking.
  2. We will increase our knowledge of the district’s needs and issues as well as our potential grantees and partners.
  3. We will develop our (external) activities in harmony with increasing our (internal) capacity so that the Foundation’s increasing organisational capacities will enable us to do more, whilst the activities will expand our organisational capacity.
  4. We shall continue to take care of each other:  the work should be exciting, interesting, novel, but it should not be more than what we can fulfil individually and as a team.

In six months’ time we will let you know how its going…