2011 was quite a remarkable year for CFA. CFA is an association, and CFA members are all lodged in regional intermediary organizations. Most of their host organizations do a mix of poverty alleviating programs and church mobilizing for poverty alleviation. The common factor that draws members to CFA is their focus on neighborhood transformation using Asset Based Community Development approaches. CFA members in 2011 have developed into a substantial professional network with an impressive, working tool kit of skills and resources. We can confidently say as an association, that we know how to work within neighborhoods in a way that leads neighbors to directing their own neighborhood progress, and that more churches are engaging in the work in respectful, appropriate, supportive ways .
From a big picture perspective the major challenges for CFA in 2011 were these:
- AmeriCorps funding: After running a very successful grant program teaching neighborhoods how to implement community listening, asset mapping, and neighbor organizing for 6 years, our grant application in 2011 was denied as a result of changing guidelines. The new grant guidelines were a deal breaker, because they would force neighborhoods to work on programs determined by the government. CFA believes the neighborhoods must identify what they want to work on. In 2012, CFA will be looking for other ways to do this work.
- It feels like we have transitioned from a launch phase to a significant growth phase. In 2011, we added more CFA members than any prior year. We ended the year with 22 regional trainer/coaches who are coaching leaders in over 400 neighborhoods nationwide. The challenge is that with only two staff devoting time to new member vetting and coaching, we are beyond our capacity to adequately attend to regional growth. We really need an additional staff person.
- Focusing on adding value: CFA will lose members if we do not add value at all times in sufficient quantity and quality to retain a member’s interest.
- Fundraising continues to be a challenge. While we ended the year in the black, we did not adequately diversify our revenue streams. We are discovering that CFA’s financial future and CFA Partner organizations financial strength are integrally linked. We will be working really hard to figure out how to do joint fundraising in 2012.
- Collaboration – for results. CFA is always scanning the horizon to see what other national associations and organizations we can partner with to the end that more neighborhoods are transformed. CFA has an agreement with Leadership Foundations (they focus on city transformation) and Think Tank-Circles a national community building program focusing on helping people get off welfare in large measure by helping them break out of their personal and communal isolation.
Looking at 2011 in the rear view mirror causes us to praise God for how He has used CFA in raising leadership for transforming a growing number of neighborhoods. May He be pleased and direct our path in 2012.
Jay Van Groningen, Executive Director
Click here for the full annual report.