Category: Message from the Board

A Good Year for Giving!

It’s been a busy but sunny spring for the development team. We are happy to have an active committee of fundraisers who are determined to see the EEFC move forward on a steady financial keel.

We began 2016 by setting ourselves several ambitious fundraising goals. After a detailed budget analysis in January, we decided that we needed to increase our fundraising goal from $48,000 to $75,300. This amount keeps EEFC on track to finish the year in the black. Our second goal is to increase member/donor participation to 400, up from 344 contributors in 2015.

Thanks to your generosity, we are well on our way to achieving both goals. In fact, the EEFC has already received 65% of the donations we need in 2016! With 259 contributors in the circle, we’re also two-thirds of the way to our goal of 400 active supporters.

Several community members have been particularly generous. Twice this season, the EEFC has received an anonymous gift of $5,000 through the Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund. Please join us in extending thanks for these kind donations! Kudos are also due to Zlatne Uste for supporting the EEFC with a portion of the profits made at the previous year’s Golden Fest. Bravo for paying it forward!

Most importantly, a great big THANK YOU to all of you who have already demonstrated your support for your East European Folklife Center.

With smiles on our faces from this happy news, we’re energized to keep making a difference. Won’t you join us? You can support Balkan music, dance and culture today!

Love and thanks,
Your Development Committee
Craig Kurumada, Linnea Mandell, Amy Mills, Elizabeth Ryan and Barbara Uhlemann

Just What Does the EEFC Board Do?

Carol Friedman sums it up beautifully in her recent blog post: Just Showing Up Isn’t Enough: Defining Your Board’s Job, and has been kind enough to share it with us here.

Your Board of Directors is the heart and soul of your nonprofit organization – carrying the responsibility for prudent fiscal management, overseeing programs that fulfill your mission, and defining organizational focus. But board members cannot do their job if they don’t know their roles and responsibilities.

So here are some basics of the job:

Mission: The board is responsible for defining the organization’s mission and what it strives to accomplish. This mission serves as a guide to organizational and program planning, board and staff decision-making, volunteer initiatives, fundraising and outreach, and setting priorities for the future.

Community representation: Your board should represent your community and your clients as you make decisions, and ensure that the membership of the board and its committees is appropriately balanced.

Public outreach: Board members serve as the organization’s ambassadors and advocates, along with overseeing an effective public relations program.

Program Management: The board’s fundamental role is to assure that current and proposed programs are consistent with the mission and of high quality. This also includes developing and approving governance policies in regard to program.

Fundraising: An organization can only be effective if it has funds to meet its purposes. Board members should set fundraising goals, help develop effective fundraising plans, make annual gifts, provide connections to potential donors and other financial resources, and participate actively in annual fundraising events and campaigns.

Planning: The board works in partnership with staff to evaluate strategies and plan for the future. The planning process enables the board and staff to translate the mission of the organization into feasible, measureable goals and objectives.

Legal Compliance: This includes monitoring and updating personnel policies, your policy and procedures manual, and health and safety plan; adherence to local, state, and federal laws (including tax reporting, personnel, health, safety, labor); and adherence to provisions of your bylaws and articles of incorporation.

Financial Management: This encompasses monitoring and understanding the budget, ensuring cash-management controls are in place, overseeing investments and insurance, ensuring that revenues are stable, and encouraging cultivation of resources that are sustainable for the long term.

Executive Director Supervision: Every board should do an annual performance review in order to support the Executive Director, strengthen the relationship between board and staff, and plan for the future. The board also makes final decisions when hiring or firing the chief executive.

Board Recruitment: All boards have a responsibility to identify needs in terms of member experience, skills, influence, diversity, and demographics, as well as taking an active role in recruiting new members. Your board is also responsible for properly orienting new board members and periodically assessing board effectiveness.

One of the biggest mistakes nonprofits make is luring people onto a Board by saying all they have to do is show up for a meeting once a month. Problem is, if that’s what you tell them, that’s usually all you’re going to get. If you want more, you need to ask for more. You need to be upfront, honest, and clear about what the job really entails.

Carol Friedman is not just an accomplished consultant to not for profits, she is also an avid folk dancer (and fan of Mendocino Balkan Camp) and teaches ongoing international folk dance classes in Marin and Sonoma. She graciously allowed us to repost her recent blog post that defines the job of a not for profit Board.

Supporting the Čoček Nation Youth Scholarship


EEFC and DROM present the 6th Annual

January 17, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Come dance to great bands and support the youth of the Balkan Music and Dance community in the US! This is the event’s second year as a benefit for the Čoček Nation Youth Scholarship to the annual Iroquois Springs Balkan Music and Dance Workshop. Last year we made enough for 2 half-scholarships—this year, let’s make sure we have at least enough to provide that again!

* Čoček Nation
* Friends of Dragi Spasovski (AKA Odglasi)
* Eva Salina & Peter Stan
* Special Guests from Austria (this is a wonderful ensemble of Balkan Ex-Pat musicians who are here on a tourist visa so we can’t publicize their name–but they are AMAZING!)

This event runs till 9, after which the incredible trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf plays and then the infamous NY Gypsy All-Stars, so make it a fantastic evening at DROM!

$10 dollars at the door ($5 with goldenfest wristband) BUT this is a benefit for a scholarship funds so please consider making additional donations. Can’t make it or prefer this method: DONATE HERE.

85 Avenue A
New York, New York

Check it out on Facebook!

Fall 2015 Board Meeting Summary Letter

by Corinna Snyder, EEFC Board President

It was a productive and fun fall meeting that brought together three new board members, four continuing members, and one long-standing team member in a new role. Our new board members are: Noel Kropf, our new Secretary, and Ad Hoc Tech Task Force Chair; Helen Marx, our new Vice President; and Barbara Uhlemann, our new Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair. Our continuing members are Amy Mills, who will continue as Fundraising Committee Chair; Demetri Tashie, continuing as Program Committee Chair; Corinna Snyder, continuing as President; and Elena Erber, who will continue as Marketing Committee Chair. We welcomed General Manager Rachel MacFarlane as a full participant in our two-day meeting.

The board met in New York City, and thanks to the generosity of PwC’s (PricewaterhouseCoopers’) Corporate Responsibility program, we were able to use conference space in midtown Manhattan for the meeting, at no cost. We also had a team dinner on Friday night at the nearby Balkanika restaurant, with great food (and beer) from all across the Balkans.

Our agenda followed the cadence that we’ve established over the past few years. On day 1 the committee and task force chairs shared updates on their efforts over the 6 months, discussed their short- and long-term goals and needs, and the board collectively developed 6- and 12-month goals for each committee and task force. On day 2 we discussed the broader horizon for the organization. This time we brought in two outside consultants who work with organizations like ours on strategic planning efforts, to ask them: What do we need to be doing to prepare for our longer-term sustainability?

We all serve on the board because we are passionate about the EEFC. We want to bring the joy of Balkan music and dance to as many people as possible, and we want to make sure the EEFC has the resources and supports it needs to endure for years to come. As a board we always struggle with tension between our lofty and exciting goals, and the reality of our very limited resources. I am proud of the team for being able to commit to individual and committee goals for the next 6 to 12 months that were both meaningful and achievable, given the resources we have as an organization—both financially and in terms of time by staff, board members and other volunteers. This was a great accomplishment.

We have a beloved and important program (our two camps) and as a board and a community our core goal is to assure its sustainability. As a result of our conversations on Saturday, we agreed that we do not currently have the capacity (resources/staff/infrastructure) nor an immediate need to implement a significant strategic plan, and that what we need to do is develop a more immediate plan (18-36 months) to make the EEFC sustainable. We agreed on the need for three things:

  1. A fund development plan that delivers a secure income stream and a solid base of funds well invested to provide returns over the long term
  2. A clear understanding of who current members/camp participants are, and a clear understanding of who our future members/camp participants might be, and a plan for turning them into campers
  3. The right amount of staff, infrastructure and resources for us to be sustainable, with the goal of having the capacity to grow in the future in response to board and community goals.

We all left our meeting feeling energized by our shared clarity on what we are  going to be doing, collectively, and individually, for the next 6 to 12 months to strengthen the EEFC now and into the future.

Read the full Fall 2015 Board Meeting Report.

A Few Changes to Membership

change in membership rhythm

If you’re a detail-oriented person (as many of us are!), you have already noticed a few changes in our membership program this year. We want to keep you in the loop, so you understand what prompted these decisions.

First increase since 2009

First, the cost of a core membership is now $75. This is the first rate increase since 2009. Camp tuition payments do not cover all the costs of putting on our workshops, and the cost of renting the Mendocino and Iroquois Springs facilities, by far the largest item in our budget, has gone up over the past several years. The discount rate for students, low-income, and working artists remains at $35.

A different kind of thank-you

Second, we have removed the thank-you gift options for higher levels of giving. We looked at whether offering EEFC bottles, totebags and earplugs encouraged people to donate more. Overall, it did not. We also looked at what other organizations do and professional fundraisers advise. And we realized that your thank-you gift really is ensuring that we can keep creating excellent programs for you to enjoy. (Oh, and the totes, bottles, and t-shirts won’t go to waste. We’ll still have them available for purchase online and at the summer workshops.)

Memberships run January-December

Finally, after much consideration, we have returned to memberships that run January through December. Last year we tried an annual, by-month schedule, which needed much more effort than we could capably implement. We also concluded that a calendar-year model helps us more effectively manage finances and measure how we meet annual fundraising goals. So, what does this mean for you? If you became a member between October and December 2015, your membership will be counted through the end of December 2016. If you became a member midway through 2015, we will keep your name on the website through 2016 to make sure we’re being fair. If you always become a member when you register for camp, you may certainly continue to do that. However, we encourage you to consider changing your pattern and become a member now, not only because it will ensure you are acknowledged for a full year of support, but also because your donation will help us plan more effectively for the 2016 season.

To join or renew your membership use the online form.

A Banner Year for Scholarships

By Amy Mills, EEFC Board Member
Published May 13, 2015

Amidst the hellos and hugs on the first day at camp, one of my favorite moments is when the new scholarship recipients are announced during orientation. It’s a moment to cheer for new acquaintances and greet old friends. This year, I suspect there will be a roar of enthusiasm—an unprecedented number of scholarship recipients will be attending the Balkan Music & Dance workshops this summer, thanks to the generosity of our community.

Since the scholarship program was started in 2003, the equivalent of 58.5 full-time scholarships have helped 78 recipients attend one of the summer workshops. Over the years, we’ve been able to offer as many as 13 and as few as two. A total of $16,825.50 was donated for the 2015 season. When combined with two endowed scholarships, this allows us to support the equivalent of 18.5 full-time scholarships this year. A great huzzah and hearty thank you to each of you who donated to the program!

Scholarships have now been awarded for both 2015 summer workshops. These include the equivalent of 15.5 Crum/Kef scholarships, as well as one funded by Balkan Night Northwest, one honoring Stefni Agin, one honoring Lillie Cooper, and two Čoček Nation half-scholarships for young musicians attending Iroquois Springs. Thank you to the members of the Scholarship Committee for donating much time and energy to select this year’s recipients.

Scholarships are a fantastic way to spread the joy of Balkan music and dance. They help us build community by bringing new faces into the circle. They let us support one another in a tough economy by making it possible for community members with limited means participate fully. And they can make it affordable for participants from more remote communities to attend. They create a ripple effect when scholars return home to share their passion and new knowledge.

Scholarships are also helping us cultivate the next generation of leaders, performers and community members. For example, this year, 2012 recipient Alex Marković will be teaching dance at both camps, and 2009 recipient Corinne Sykes has taken the Site Manager reins at Mendocino. Many other recipients are sharing music and dance in their own communities around the world.

One other key thing that scholarships do is to help EEFC remain viable. This is because a scholarship not only helps fill camp, it does so directly. 100% of scholarship donations go to tuition costs to bring someone to camp. The number of scholarships awarded each year depends directly on funds donated by our community. Supporting scholarships is one of the most effective ways that we can help spread the joy of Balkan music and dance.

Please take a moment to learn more about scholarships and how you can support them on our website. And if you’re attending camp this summer, join me at orientation to cheer on our new scholars and our generous community!

Spring 2015 Board Meeting Summary Letter

From board member Nancy Leeper

Hi all,

Thank you so much for our productive meeting! It is a joy to work with all of you, and I am continually impressed with everyone’s dedication to our “cause” and passion for putting the effort into “getting it right.” We all want the best for EEFC and each other, and, to me, this meeting really laid that commitment out on the table—both the easy stuff and the hard stuff—and we dealt with it. I, for one, can see some clarity in our path forward and, through this in-person gathering, I am reassured of our collective commitment to doing what is right for our organization.

This meeting was particularly special (for me, anyway) because we were able to touch in with significant members of our Bay Area community in a highly meaningful way. We managed to attract an almost perfect demographic of founders, medium-timers (I consider myself in this group, at about 27 years of connection with the community), and relative newcomers. Everyone in the room had something to say, sometimes with widely differing opinions on the way forward, but without rancor and with positive intent from all participants.

As always, we have a lot of work to do in the wake of our meeting. Amy is compiling our resulting to-do list today and/or tomorrow in the cracks of time in her work day, and we can review that list and continue to chug forward.

It was particularly good to have the technology to conference people in via skype or other means. We are all very busy people, and we all have personal, professional, and family issues that we are dealing with. I am so grateful that no one had to completely forego participation, while still attending to “real life.” Thank you all for your patience and willingness to adapt to our dispersed meeting style this past weekend. Meeting in person is, of course, optimal, but sometimes that simply can’t happen. Thank you Noel, Corinna, & Demetri for hanging in with us. It would be great to find a different platform that would allow a stronger technical connection and offer the ability for remote participants to, at the very least, visually indicate their interest in speaking/responding to each other and those at the table. It’s reassuring to know that these solutions exist and that we have the technical expertise on the board and within our community to implement them. Our adoption of this technology internally will go a long way toward hosting virtual forums effectively.

And thank you Rachel and Traci for joining us! As we are currently a more or less working board, your knowledge resulting from immersion in operations is a keystone of our conversations regarding sorting out our respective roles (board and admin staff), and how we can most effectively move forward on expanding our human resources structure to include volunteer resources. Thank you so much, Noel, for stepping up to organize and launch a volunteer coordinator position and system.

Once again, thank you all for a great meeting. We had a perfect space (thank you Elena, for organizing it!), fantastic food (thanks Eva for taking the lead!), and even managed so celebrate Pi Day with the appropriate pastries (thank you Trader Joe’s)!

Now—back to work! Please review Erin’s notes from the forum, the meeting minutes, and Amy’s action list. In my estimation, we’re in pretty good shape, so let’s continue to develop and maintain our very special organization.

Best to you all,


Note. Community Forum, Ashkenaz: Attendance included 6 board members, 2 staff, and (at my count) 15 other community members, with input from another member via letter to the board, which Craig read in full at the beginning of the meeting.

Read the Spring Board Meeting Report.

Yes, you’re in the right place!

We’ve launched our new website. It’s new, so there will still be some kinks to work out. The exciting part is that we pulled it together in time to open registration for west coast camp!

The old website served us well for quite a few years thanks to Demetri’s creativity, technological savvy and deep, deep well of generosity. And while it is bitter sweet to see a body of your work pass on, Demetri confirms that passing the baton to board member Elena Erber and long-time EEFC member and former board member Matthew Fass is a welcome change of pace: “Congratulations on our new website. It really looks great and I know it will help shepherd the EEFC to being the ‘go to place’ for all things Balkan music and dance! Thank you for all your hard work!”

Why a new website? It was time to make the site easier to use. The site is designed to take advantage of newer technology like adapting to be viewed on different sized screens including handhelds. It’s built on a WordPress platform which provides a user-friendly back-end which means it will be easier for our staff and volunteers to add and update the content and keep you informed in a more timely manner. We’ve simplified many of the forms so we hope the process of registering or donating will be that much simpler. We’ve updated the calendar and have high hopes that you will use it often so it becomes the “go to ” place Balkan music & dance events and activities.

Rachel MacFarlane, Elena and Matthew have been pulling long hours to get the site up and running in time to offer a new interface for registration and payment. We made certain strategic decisions together regarding what content to bring over from the old site.

You may notice a few things missing. We’ve removed the EEFC radio since it hadn’t been added to for quite a few years. You won’t find the “Balkan Culture” pages for now. We’ll be relaunching that section with is resources and information about various aspects of Balkan music, dance, and traditions, in the future. We will take the seed of the idea that Demetri planted and grow into a revised and updated version. If you are interested in helping please volunteer.

Kef Times and Forum Folkloristika can be found under the “publications” drop down in the navigation bar. The contents of Forum Folklorisitka is being moved over little by little. Its a big job but we’ll get it there.

EEFC 2015 Community Forums

In the fall of 2014 the board set about to create occasions for us all to talk together about what camp means to us and what we think the future holds. What brings us to camp? What do we most love about it? What do we think needs to be changed? Who do we think will be coming to camp 5, or 25 years from now? Who do we want to be coming to camp? What will camp look like then?

We are a community that wears lots of different hats, often at the same time—members, founding mothers and fathers, staff, volunteers, teachers, current and past board members, grew-up-at-camp campers, new campers, lapsed campers, family campers, East Coast, West Coast, Middle Coast. We want to make sure that all these different perspectives are brought to the table.

Five forums were scheduled (Boulder, Brooklyn, Seattle, Berkeley, and Boston) for the first quarter of 2015. Invitations shared via the EEFC newsletter, listserv, website and Facebook—come and share your passion, love, questions, and constructive energy with us!


Summaries of the Forums

Boulder Community Forum January 11, 2015

1 Board member (Biz Hertzberg) and 3 community members got together to talk about the future of the EEFC.

How can the EEFC provide more tour support?
  • some sort of online community repository for what venues and/or folk dance groups in what towns are receptive to touring Balkan oriented bands.
How can we get more college kids to come to camp?
  • Facilitating college credit.
  • Talking to music/ethnomusic faculty.

Brooklyn Community Forum January 17, 2015

4 Board members (Corinna Snyder, Eva Salina Primack, Noel Kropf and Elena Erber) joined Rachel MacFarlane and about 12 community members in the back room at Freddy’s Bar to talk about the EEFC and its future. The major topics and ideas discussed were:

How the EEFC can support bands:
  • Fiscal sponsorship for grants – noted how helpful this is for bands looking for grants given only to not for profits, clarified that this is not a money maker for the EEFC
  • Talked about using the website to publish a list of Balkan-friendly venues, gigs, bands around the U.S., to help bands and musicians plan tours.
  • Use of membership list more to get people to shows.
Using non-EEFC events to promote the EEFC
  • Discussion of partnership with ZU and our role at Golden Festival in terms of how much EEFC publicity we do and how much is acceptable/appropriate. Rachel affirmed that it really is ZU’s festival.
Board communications
  • Community is looking for more particulars about how things work organizationally/ programatically. What is on the website, and in our monthly newsletters do not do enough. Board should be talking more about how programming happens, what are the complications/limitations insofar as advance hiring is concerned, what criteria come into play when creating a full slate of teacher/performers, constraints teachers have.
Collaborating with ethnic and émigré communities
  • Talked about how valuable it is for us to collaborate more with ethnic/émigré communities in North America, and performing artists in the Balkans
  • Talked about how we balance and bring together music, dance, and community from disparate cultures, and manage the tensions that sometimes arise.
How can we grow camp attendance:
  • Rachel pointed out that we’re not always sure as to what affects attendance. Many different factors. Group conclusion: Word of mouth still best way to get people to camp.
Confirming current staffing approach for ED
  • Confirmed that Amy is pro bono and focusing her continuing efforts on development, and that we don’t know yet what the ED role should look like in the future, and when/how we will staff it.
Importance of scholarships in expanding our community.
  • Discussed scholarships at other camps — KlezKanada is +/- 25% scholarship, thanks to a large donor base — and what we have done to grow scholarship. Local scholarships are a great and viable option. Also personal scholarships (similar to Biz’s pay it forward arrangement and what Diane Montgomery has done for years).
How can we bring young people to camp?
  • How can we harness the excitement of Golden fest and get these people to EEFC events?
  • Important to have an option that’s open for newcomers, and good transportation support/options.
  • Idea: 1-day intensive midweek workshop at camp that would bring a charter busload from New York — arrive for or after lunch, attend a dance class, a primer on music and dance in the Balkans, and maybe an instrument or singing class. They have dinner with the week-long campers, go to the dance party and even an hour of the kafana and take the bus back to NY.
Noted that the B&B option at IS is a great way to try camp out. Idea of a van that drives people up to camp (IS) for overnights.
  • Implications of that, however, are the additional admin work.
  • Noted changing demographic (younger musicians vs. recreational folk dancers). We rely on an aging dancer-heavy group for our donations and financial support.
  • Noted that the “thrashers/noodle dancers” will eventually join the line. Have patience.
  • Many said that personal connection is what works to raise awareness. Not sure if Balkan Shout out achieved the goal. The EEFC website should be THE online resource for Balkan music in the U.S.
  • Trying to get young people to come to folk dancing is tough—local dance scenes are very different from Golden Fest (implying they are much less appealing to young people).
  • Once people get into the scene, through a festival or any such event, they will hear about camp.
Power of volunteering
  • Crucial to the operation of both our workshops and our organization.
    Important to mentor the next wave of volunteers.
Community building
  • Need for a “real” development plan and a strategic plan, a re-assesment and a clarification of our story
  • Need that process to be very inclusive of community engagementIdea: a 1-day facilitated retreat for planning and conversation — Berkshire-Taconic Foundation ( — they assist groups with their organizational needs.

Seattle Community Forum February 21, 2015

Berkeley Community Forum March 14, 2015

Boston Community Forum March 21, 2015


Update from Executive Director Jay House

It has been a busy summer, with two wonderful camps, and the June launch of Kef Times in its new, easy-to-share format, as well as its expansion to a thrice-yearly publication (look for a new issue on or about Sept 15). Now, as I see back-to-school pictures spread across Facebook, and prepare to send my own daughter to kindergarten here in NY, in just about a week, it begins to feel like Fall.

There is something about the change of season and new start of each school-year that makes me feel like renewal. With that in mind, I am excited to get back into the swing of giving you all monthly updates about EEFC news and accomplishments.

We have a lot of fresh energy in this area, inspired by the board’s commitment, made in our Spring 2014 board meeting, to an active role in fundraising for the organization. I am also really happy to be working with a strong chair of the development committee, board member Amy Mills, who has recently signed on in this capacity. Here are a few highlights.

  • Amy, along with board and fundraising committee member Nancy Leeper, and I are about to start working on the end-of year donation/membership renewal letter. Please stay tuned for that in November (and as a reminder, if you are a member, memberships all run on a calender year, and therefore are up for renewal as of December 31, 2014).
  • We are pleased to share that the spring fund drive generated $6,000 in donations. Our goal was $15,000, but we learned a lot from our first time out, and will come back in the spring of 2015 to reprise the effort.
  • Even more exciting, we are very happy to share that an anonymous donor has committed to a two-year gift of $10,000 per year for general support. We learned this while at Iroquois Springs, and are very excited about the support from the community this shows.
  • Finally, I am delighted to share that between the two camps this summer, we raised $13,000 in scholarship money. I will work with the board and the scholarship committee to determine the best way to use the money, with an eye towards leveraging an unprecedented amount of scholarship money for long-term benefit.

There is also quite a bit of financial work going on right now, as Traci and Rachel reconcile camp expenses and income, all of which is necessary for developing a 2015 budget in time for the start of the EEFC’s new fiscal year on October 1. That takes a lot of focused energy, and means that we don’t yet know the full picture of the year, financially speaking, but we are dedicating our energies there now.

This month, in advance of the fall board meeting (Sept 18-20, in NYC) I will be developing the 2015 budget, which the board will review at the meeting. In the past, we have struggled to have this ready, due to the tight turn-around between the end of the East Coast Camp, and the end of the fiscal year.

None of this could have happened without the support, both in terms of volunteer effort, and memberships and donations, that you, our community contribute. Thank you for your part in the work we do.

Next month, look for my update in the next issue of the all-new Kef Times which will now be appearing three time each year.

Thanks for reading, and please keep in touch with me if you have questions, comments, or concerns about what’s happening with the EEFC.


Posted By Jay House, Aug 29, 2014