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From the Executive Director

Fundraising and Telling Our Story

By Jay House Samios, Spring 2014
Jay House Samios

Jay House Samios

At our most recent board meeting, the Board and I began a process of examining the Board’s relationship to fundraising. I am excited to see their interest in a sometimes daunting issue, and their commitment to stewardship of the organization we love so much. Fundraising in this economic climate takes a coordinated effort. We will need all the help we can get—more on that below!

As Corinna mentioned in her note from the Board, we initiated a spring fund drive this year, something I expect we will continue on an annual basis along with the end-of-year fund drive. I am pleased to report that, as of this writing, we are more than 50% of the way to our goal of $15,000, thanks to your generosity. Corinna and I will also be taking on the roles of Auction Maven for West and East Coast camps, respectively. This is a good opportunity for us as lead fundraisers for the EEFC, since the auctions at camp represent our largest fundraising events each year.

In my 18 months as Executive Director, I have heard a few community members urge us to use more varied fundraising, such as grant writing, or seeking large gifts from new donors. Getting the full support of the Board is exactly what we need to be able to back up these good ideas with a real plan. That, combined with the efforts of our new Development and Marketing Committees, means we are well on our way to getting this process going, But, yes, we need more helpers in this effort. We need you. We will begin building a database of foundations, individuals and other entities that may be viable candidates for funding our mission to promote, celebrate, and educate the public about Balkan music and dance. As with any relationship, however, the one between funder and “fundee” requires cultivation. We welcome your ideas for specific organizations and people that would be interested in the work we are doing.

Some of the exciting things I see coming up in the next 12 months include a project I will kick off at both camps this year, interviewing people about their favorite stories from the history of the EEFC. It’s my sense that, as would be the case in any “village,” ours has a myriad of stories that, if documented, would speak volumes about the meaning represented by its inhabitants. Dances and songs have been preserved; endangered instruments have literally had new life breathed into them. For the purposes of fundraising, I am looking to uncover the stories that will make it clear to the world why the EEFC matters. I am seeking stories that show our impact in areas such as cultural preservation, cross-cultural exchange, arts education, adult education and other areas. Please drop me a line if you have such a story to share, or if you would be interested in doing the same sort of thing, at camp or locally in your community. I also expect to have a report on Čoček Nation’s (the East Coast kids’ band) performance at Golden Festival in NYC last January, which was supported by donations made by campers at Iroquois Springs last year.

If you are interested in getting involved, we are looking for people to join in our outreach and storytelling efforts in the coming year. You needn’t commit to long-term committee membership if that’s not for you; instead, you can, for example, work on a project basis researching foundations and other folk organizations, or turning stories into documentation for grant proposals. We need your help, and we welcome your input.

Jay House Samios

EEFC Executive Director

© 2014 East European Folklife Center