It Could Have Been a Lot Worse

For me the end of the year is a time of assessment. What were the RFC's major achievements and challenges in 2010? 2009 was very difficult and 2010 wasn’t much easier, although by early this year we’d gotten used to rough times. We knew what we faced. Since we must raise the funds we give away, we knew we’d have to make an extraordinary effort even to match our 2009 level of awards, which was $50,000 lower than in 2008.

January 2010 began our 20th anniversary year. We resolved to go on the road, attend as many events to mark the occasion as we could manage, greet our old friends and spread the word to potential new supporters. The success of this effort, which we dubbed our “20/20/20 Program” (20 events, in 20 cities, in 20 months to celebrate our 20th anniversary), was probably our single greatest achievement of 2010. The additional funds we raised enabled us to award $350,000 again this year to children left even more vulnerable by the recession. There were, however, other achievements as well.

Almost no one in our community is aware of a job description change for one of our staff members because we haven’t the space to put her new and longer title on our letterhead. Amber Black, who has been our Public Relations Coordinator for 11 years, is now our Public Relations and Technology Coordinator. This is not a cosmetic change, but instead reflects a massive investment on her part to learn and keep up with the ever-changing mosaic of online communication. Anyone who has visited our website or Facebook page has seen the result. But Amber’s most significant achievement in this realm in 2010 was orchestrating an online outreach campaign that has resulted in increasing the size of our email list by over 50%. I expect that this will have a lasting positive impact by raising the profile of the RFC for a younger generation of progressives.

The most emotionally satisfying achievement of 2010 was our Grantmaking Coordinator, Jenn Meeropol’s, success in obtaining a grant from a family foundation that will enable us to restart our Carry it Forward Gathering Program next summer. The worst blow the recession has dealt us and our beneficiary families was having to cancel the 2009 Gathering. Jenn’s very effective proposal, coupled with an additional award from our old friends at The Puffin Foundation, will fully fund the 2011 event. And, of course, Jenn’s done this on top of her ongoing work with dozens of beneficiary families and providers while administering over 150 grants this year.

As you can see, in many ways this has been a fruitful year and one that gives me grounds for optimism as we approach 2011. However, the challenge we face is to maintain our momentum against stiff economic headwinds that show no sign of slackening. We’ll keep plugging away as hard as we can in 2011. We’re in this for the long haul. And having the RFC community with us and the children we aid is what keeps us going.

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