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Community Initiatives: Helping Build Effective Nonprofits

Initiative to Develop Audiences and Engage Services (IDEAS) Fund

A strong arts and culture landscape can benefit the local region by improving quality of life, increasing tourism, engaging residents, strengthening workforces and serving as an economic engine to revitalize the community. In turn, a more vital Onondaga County will benefit each and every one of the arts and culture organizations through an increased tax base, healthier businesses, and population growth. Recognizing this importance, the Initiative to Develop Audiences and Engage Services (IDEAS) Collaborative was formed by the Gifford Foundation in 2011 to create an opportunity for multiple funders and arts, cultural and heritage organizations to work together towards a common goal — to strengthen the connection between the community and these organizations for more engaged audiences. 

IDEAS, comprised of the Community Foundation and other area funders, supported projects that address long-term audience development. Since its inception, IDEAS awarded more than $280,000 in grants to various organizations through the IDEAS Implementation Fund, which has been managed by the Community Foundation. In addition, significant support has been provided to CNY Arts (formerly the Cultural Resources Council) to launch gotocnyarts.org, plan and organize conference scholarships and training workshops, and drive community arts marketing efforts. This fall, the Implementation Fund will transition to a mini-grant program administered by CNY Arts to support small, targeted marketing objectives and audience development.

IDEAS Collaborative Funders:
Allyn Foundation
Central New York Community Foundation
Gifford Foundation
Dorothy & Marshall M. Reisman Foundation
John Ben Snow Memorial Trust
Trust for Cultural Resources of the County of Onondaga

Performance Management Learning Community

Recognizing that data can have a profound effect on an organization’s ability to share the story of its impact with the community, the Performance Management initiative awards grants to help nonprofits implement data management systems or projects. In addition, each recipient organization is invited to participate in a year-long learning community to share their project implementation experiences with other participants. During the 2014 fiscal year, members of our second Performance Management Learning Community completed their projects and reported that they learned to plan more extensively, enhance or improve programs and provide data-supported evidence of successes for future funding opportunities.

Strategic Partnership Fund

The Strategic Partnership Fund awards grants to cover the expenses associated with creating new collaborations between nonprofits so that they can enhance program delivery and achieve more efficient use of limited financial and human resources. This fiscal year, a total of $35,000 in grants was awarded to two new partnerships. Since the program’s inception, a total of $321,355 in grants has been awarded. Completed grant projects have secured more than $1 million in new revenues through their partnership activities. These groups also saved an estimated $6 million by sharing supportive services and creating other efficiencies that would not have been possible if they continued to operate alone.

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