During 2006, we (the trustees) "turned up the dial" on our activity level. The following are a few examples of those actions along with our comments:
1. Updated our Web-site: We hired Deborah Chow, an extraordinarily talented Web-designer, to rebuild the site. About the only part of the site that remained the same was Phil's picture on Page 1 it is way too handsome to tinker with...
2. Caren is taking a more active role: During 2006, she began to work more closely with the Aids Service Center, including attending some of their "peer graduation" ceremonies and Poetry Readings, which are held at Barnes and Noble. In addition, she has taken over the "books", including the preparation of our annual financial audit. For the 2005 audit, (completed May 2006) we hired Eisner and Lubin, a well known CPA firm, to make sure that we continue to operate the foundation properly in an increasingly regulated environment.
3. We donated a record amount of money and added new donors. In one example we donated money to the "Empire State Aids Ride". We identified two bicycle riders (who happened to be sisters), who rode during one week in August about 560 miles from Niagara Falls to the tip of Manhattan. These two young ladies did not have any relation to AIDS victims, but just wanted to "do it". Part of the ride proceeds went to fund a community services program for people living with AIDS's in the New Paltz area. New Paltz is a town near to our families' heart as Phil went to college there.
4. We tweaked our mission statement to include/increase collaboration efforts. Potential grantees and ongoing organizations that we fund were told that we are now more favorably inclined to continue/potentially fund them if they keep collaboration possibilities in mind.
5. Pro-Bono work: Allen spent a significant amount of time aiding existing and potential grantees. He introduced outsiders (including a financial printer) to our grant recipients, and in one case helped to upgrade the accounting systems of a grantee organization. As we all know, the amount of dollars and time "spent" both privately and publicly to work on HIV/Aids related causes has been declining rapidly. Thus, our "outreach" is imperative and welcomed by the "community".
6. In late 2006, Seymour made a large contribution of shares in a private company. In early 2007, the shares were repurchased by the company. As a result, our endowment has significantly increased. While we are still a small foundation within the world of philanthropy, Seymour's gift enables us to increase funding to existing grantors and expand our reach. However, we are not going to change our "hands on" approach. As a historic comment, Seymour and I have given about 95% of the assets that the foundation has received.
7. Last but not least, Rights and Reactions, Phil's award winning film, was shown by three different organizations; In February at a Twenty Year retrospective of award winning films displayed at the Berlin Film Festival; on two separate occasions on television by PBS (Channel 13 New York) during Gay Pride month; and at City Hall by Assembly Leader Christine Quinn, as part of a different Twenty Year celebration, this one being the passage of the historic NYC "Gay Rights Bill".
It was a great year. 2007 is already shaping up to be every bit as good and we look forward to reporting to you about it. As always, if you have any ideas let us know.