The HATOG (Hungarian Americans Together) Conference was held for the tenth time in May 2017 at Marymount University, VA. During this conference, participants attended a charity ball, as well as multiple presentations and group discussions about grant writing, non-profit management, and ways to get more people interested and involved in Hungarian organizations.

HATOG X Participants

From the many presentations I will only mention a few details, which I thought were the most informative and helpful for the Hungarian Club of Chicago. (Detailed program can be read here.)

First of all, participants saw a presentation about a great program called: Reconnect Hungary Birthright Program. This program “provides the gift of a peer-group heritage and cultural immersion trip to Hungary for Hungarian-American/Canadian young adults between the ages of 18 and 28 who want to strengthen their personal Hungarian identity through connection to the country, culture and heritage. Every summer, groups of individually selected young Hungarian-Americans/Canadians begin a two-week journey of rediscovery together. They learn about their Hungarian roots—culture, traditions and history—in a totally new way.” This program should be something the Club advertises because it provides the experience of a lifetime to participants, and they can feel much closer to their Hungarian heritage, even if they don’t speak perfect Hungarian or know much about the culture prior to the Reconnect Hungary Birthright Program.

Another highlight of the conference was Andrea Lauer Rice’s presentation about the Memory Project. I am sure many of you are familiar with this endeavor, but I thought I should mention it because I had the opportunity to listen to the co-founder about this project. It is a Hungarian American History Archive co-founded by Andrea Lauer Rice and Réka Pigniczky. The goals of this project are to help document and record the personal stories of Hungarians who emigrated to the United States after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and as displaced persons after World War II.

Moreover, Anna Smith Lacey, Executive Director of the Hungary Initiatives Foundation explained important details organizations have to follow when they are writing a grant proposal. From her presentation the most important points were: 1) deadlines have to be respected, 2) the Foundation likes to support projects that effect the Hungarian community as well as other minority groups, 3) collaboration with other sponsors is very appealing, 4) the Foundation would like to see that the organization has at least 50% of the financial requirements to support the specific event/program prior to applying for a grant, and 5) involving more Hungarian organizations is a big plus when the Hungary Initiatives Foundation decides about grants.

On Sunday, Elizabeth Dyar Stiff, Co-Founder of Native Collaboration, held a social media outreach and strategy workshop for participants. She explained how important it is to represent the organization in different social media platforms. Ms. Stiff explained different approaches to reach different group of people. Her main advice to the participants was the following: know the mission of the organization, do a SWAT analysis and based on the information choose the best social media platform to advertise the organization and it’s events.

Lastly, Anna Voloshin, Senior Director of Development at The McCain Institute for International Leadership, held a professional development session on fundraising and grant writing. She highlighted the many untraditional ways fundraising can be possible and she emphasized the importance of communication between donors and the organizations, not just when support is needed but on a regular basis. This ensures that the donors will fill satisfied with their investment and will continue to invest into the organization’s future. She also mentioned another aspect which is important during the grant writing process: sustainability. If donors see that the event has a long lasting effect on a community, they are more willing to invest.

I would like to thank the Hungarian Club of Chicago for enabling me to attend the HATOG X Conference, as well as the American Hungarian Heritage House (AHHH), the Hungarian American Coalition (Coalition), and The Hungary Initiatives Foundation for organizing the conference. It was a great experience, I have learned a lot and I met over 60 representatives from other Hungarian organizations in different states. I hope I can use the knowledge I attained through this experience to further develop the Hungarian Club of Chicago.

Reporting: Fanni Lakatos,
Board Member of the Hungarian Club of Chicago