Last year was busy busy busy – and we liked it that way! This year promises to be equally exciting, as we approach a major anniversary, explore new initiatives and continue our work building capacity through grants and convenings. In 2013 $816,000 in community grants were awarded, 17 projects were initiated through “What if…” mini grants, six new nonprofits began to ADVANS and we continued our investment in the arts and culture of our community through the IDEAS Collaborative. Not to mention our ongoing engagement with community residents and nonprofit agencies that resulted in the convening of a Refugee Alliance, fiscal management and partnership on the community-wide TRUCE initiative, implementing the Syracuse Neighborhood Action Conference and two fully enrolled board development workshop series, one dedicated to Oswego County (in total over 100 individuals representing 44 nonprofit organizations participated in board development series last year.)
We helped Syracuse shine at the New York State Funders conference, and our staff attended over a dozen local and national professional development opportunities, including two presentations at national conferences. In March we, along with many in Central New York, grieved over the loss of our former executive director Kathy Goldfarb-Findling – her passing cemented our commitment to the philosophy of engagement to which she was dedicated. Partnering with the Allyn Foundation, we celebrated Kathy by awarding two imaginative and creative nonprofit leaders “The Kathy.” Over the entire year our program staff met or visited with over 125 organizations to discuss not just projects, but their potential and dreams. A survey of grantees and other nonprofits showed 88% felt that the Foundation had extraordinary impact and over 80% identified our personal interactions as a primary strength.
We don’t believe in resting on our laurels, however. That same survey showed us we need to build on our communications, and this year we’ll strengthen the telling of not just the Gifford story, but the stories of nonprofits in our community. We’ll continue to build the capacity of organizations and our community through ADVANS, bidding farewell in 2014 to five organizations that will complete their work, and watch our six new organizations complete assessments and identify capacity areas for investment. The highly popular board development workshop series will continue this spring with a session for Madison County organizations, and the “What If…” Film Series, now hosted by ArtRage Gallery, will expand its community connections by “going on the road” with screenings in neighborhoods. We’re still at the table with the Refugee Alliance as it grows in strength and focus. Stay tuned for more details on these and other new initiatives.
Last, but by no means least, in April we kick off our 60th Anniversary as a Foundation. Throughout the year we will celebrate our grantmaking history by telling and sharing stories, and celebrate Rosamond Gifford herself with a birthday party in September. So stay tuned, keep an eye out for future e-newsletters, and start thinking about how everyone, from the Foundation to residents, are fostering growth and encouraging change each and every day.
P.S. Part of sharing our stories will include bolstering our social media presence. “Like” us on Facebook and follow @GiffordCNY to receive the most up to the minute information!