by Marnie Moss
As Gifford kicks off 2015 we are taking a look back at what a special year 2014 was. Along with our grant making and initiatives we celebrated our 60th Anniversary, helped new ideas come to fruition and expanded upon current programs throughout Madison, Onondaga and Oswego Counties.
In an effort to simplify our application process and keep current with technology, Gifford upgraded to an online grants management system. Foundant has allowed us to become a more streamlined organization that is responsive to grantseeker interests. The shift to an online system was a learning process and we continue to explore new ways to enhance it. If you are interested in learning more, we have designated a page of our website to how it works.
Our Community Grant Program gave out over 25 grants with an average grant size of $13,000. In 2014 we supported an array of projects: upgrading technology systems, enhancing current programs, providing consultant support, implementing security systems, educating the youth and preparing them for the future and many more. Gifford believes in building the capacity of the organizations in CNY – our Community Grant Program allows us to see first-hand the hard work involved and the benefits when organizations are strengthened.
Our What If… Mini Grant Program, designed to support City of Syracuse residents coming together to develop their neighborhood’s resources and assets, gave out over $65,000 through a total of 21 grants. These projects ranged from writing workshops, to afterschool programs for New Americans to youth camps and neighborhood enhancement projects. We hosted 11 orientation meetings with attendance from over 55 groups.
Gifford recognizes the importance of nonprofit organizations’ having an engaged and diversified board of directors but realizes it can be difficult to find not only the right community members but also keep current trustees invested. To support organizations in efforts to strengthen their boards we teamed up with The Gorman Foundation to host our fourth Board Development Workshop series in Madison County this past spring. There were 24 organizations in attendance from across Madison County and some from Onondaga County as well.
In an effort to grow and adjust to the current needs of our constituents Gifford collaborated with Leadership Greater Syracuse, the Human Services Leadership Council and the CNY Community Foundation to develop Nourishing Tomorrow’s Leaders. This intense 8-week boardsmanship training program guides individuals interested in learning about how to get on a board and be an engaged member. This program was a huge success and graduated 29 individuals that are now well equipped to be active board members. Nourishing Tomorrow’s Leaders will take place again this spring.
The fourth iteration of our ADVANS Program (Advancing and Developing the Assets and Value of Nonprofits in Syracuse) was in full swing this year. The cohort is made up of six organizations: ACR Health, Child Care Solutions, E. John Gavras Center (in partnership with the Allyn Foundation), Onondaga Community Living, Oswego County Opportunities and Syracuse Model Neighborhood Facility, Inc. (Southwest Community Center.) The organizations undertake an intensive assessment and capacity planning process and receive implementation funds as well as consultant support. (ADVANS follows the organizational capacity model developed by Dr. Susan Kenny Stevens as outlined in the book Nonprofit Lifecycles: Stage-based Wisdom for Nonprofit Capacity.)
Last but not least, Gifford turned 60 years old this past July! We worked with Courtney Rile and Michael Barletta from Daylight Blue Media to create two videos that share our history and celebrate our approach. After many weeks of filming, Courtney and Mike felt like a part of the Gifford team and did a wonderful job of capturing the essence of “The Gifford Way”. The videos debuted as part of our 60th Anniversary Celebration where we, along with the Allyn Foundation, also awarded the 2014 Kathy Goldfarb-Findling Leadership Award to Kerry Quaglia of Home HeadQuarters. The videos can be seen on our website.
2014 was a busy year full of excitement, hard work and collaboration. We hope that 2015 will bring us opportunities to support the community and continue to grow the capacity of the nonprofits in CNY.