Annual Report

MISSION & MEANS

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

The Giraffe Heroes Project moves people to stick their necks out for the common good, and gives them tools to succeed.

Background

The world needs people who stick their necks out for the common good, not letting obstacles stand in their way. The Giraffe Heroes Project has been a pioneer in finding and honoring such people. We call them “Giraffe Heroes.” They are men and women, young and old, from every ethnic and economic background and they are tackling every public problem you can think of, from environmental pollution to gang violence. Others see, hear or read these stories and are moved into action themselves, helping solve the public problems of most concern to them.

The Project's leaders write books, articles and blogs, and give speeches and workshops, offering people both the inspiration and practical tools they need to meet the community and global challenges they care about.

Since 1991, the Project has also been developing classroom materials that cover character development, service learning, civic engagement, experiential learning and literacy. Giraffe curricula help young people build lives as courageous and compassionate citizens. Using the compelling stories of Giraffe Heroes and a unique coaching framework developed for a wide age range, Giraffe programs have helped over half a million kids create and carry out their own initiatives to solve public problems of concern to them. In the process they learn critical academic and life skills, as well as how to play active and successful roles as citizens in their communities and beyond.

From a home office near Seattle WA, the Project has a global reach, via www.giraffe.org; its Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/giraffeheroes; and its Heads Up e-zine (subscribe at http://www.giraffe.org/blog), and from the on-the-ground activities of Giraffe Heroes International (see below and http://www.giraffe.org/global).

Descriptions of all the Project’s programs are at www.giraffe.org. There, you’ll also find an “About Us” section which contains FAQs on Giraffes, Donors, our Most Recent 990, History of the Giraffe Heroes Project, Privacy Policy, FAQs for the Media, this Annual Report, Board and Staff, and “25 Reasons to Support Us.”

I. A Summary of the Project’s Accomplishments in 2015

The Project did well in meeting its stated mission, goals and objectives in 2015. First, an overview:

The Project is increasingly online, reaching far more people with far less expense.

In 2015 we edited, updated and posted 219 Giraffe Heroes' stories, complete with photos and contact information. We worked with hundreds of Giraffes on linking their websites to their Giraffe profiles.

We completed a massive transformation of our print and disc materials for Kindergarten through second-grade classrooms, putting the entire interactive, digitized program of lesson plans, handouts, audios and videos online, free. The online K-2 went live in time for the opening of school in September.

We translated our free, all-ages, classroom session into Spanish and German and posted them at http://www.giraffe.org/resources/teaching-materials.

We engaged a social media specialist to adapt Giraffe materials into forms usable on Twitter and Pinterest, enlarging our presence among users of those social media.

Our own efforts on Facebook expanded Giraffes' following to almost 6,000 by year's end, six times what it was in years past. By Boosting our posts, we got the Giraffe message to an average of 30,000 people a day in 21 countries, far exceeding any reach we had in the days before social media.

Please check out our progress by tapping into www.giraffe.org, and the Giraffe Heroes page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/giraffeheroes. Use office@giraffe.org to sign up for our regular e-zine, Heads Up. Look for our regular posts on Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn—as well as on prestigious online blogs such as Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-graham/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ann-medlock/All this social media action has greatly increased the extent of our outreach.

Our physical presence overseas is growing fast too. Under the banner of Giraffe Heroes International, in 2015 we launched our newest Giraffe affiliate, this one in Singapore.

The Project’s finances remain firmly in the black.

II. The Specifics of Our Accomplishments in 2015

Honoring Giraffe Heroes & Telling Their Stories

2015 Goal: Hold Giraffe juries four times in 2015, commending at least fifteen new Giraffe Heroes, and then telling their stories.

• We honored 13 new Giraffe Heroes in 2015, chosen in four juries, bringing the total number of Giraffe Heroes honored since 1982 to over 1,400. Meet two of the newest Giraffe Heroes, Mike Partain and Jerry Ensminger at http://tinyurl.com/jx6ncyx.

2015 goal: Make major progress in putting the stories and pictures of all 1400 Giraffe Heroes into our searchable web database.

• In 2015 we edited, updated and posted 219 Giraffe Heroes' stories, complete with photos and contact information. The goal of 1400 is now in sight. We worked with hundreds of Giraffes on linking their websites to their Giraffe profiles. These stories and the Giraffes' websites are instantly available, free, to teachers, parents, kids, media—anybody who can get onto the Internet, anywhere in the world.

• We used a management system we created to catalog mountains of archives, tracking hundreds of stories in various stages of completion. This online database is a key part of the Giraffe Project’s long-term gift to the world; a treasury of stories that can keep on inspiring and informing people everywhere, for as long as there’s an Internet.

Giraffe Programs in Schools & After School

2015 Goal: Complete the process of putting our curriculum for 5-8 year-olds online for free download.

• Giraffe curricula are online! Thanks to an initial grant from the Kalliopeia Foundation, in 2013 we began a multi-year program to digitize virtually all of the components of the Giraffe Heroes Program, our nationally recognized character development, service-learning, experiential, and civic engagement curriculum. The idea is to add interactive elements and put the resulting digital programs on our website for free download by teachers, youth leaders and parents. In 2013, we finished that process for It’s Up to Us, our program for young teens, and its Teachers Guide. We urge you to check them out at www.giraffe.org.

• In 2015 we completed the massive transformation of our print and disc materials for Kindergarten through second-grade classrooms, putting the entire interactive, digitized program of lesson plans, handouts, audios and videos online, free. The online K-2 went live in time for the opening of school in September.

• We translated our free, all-ages, classroom session into Spanish and German and posted them at http://www.giraffe.org/resources/teaching-materials.

• We continue to ship physical components of the Giraffe Heroes Program to teachers around the US, helping young people build lives as courageous, compassionate citizens.

• We continue to sell "Giraffe Heroes Kits," a simplified version of our landmark curriculum for kids. The Kit includes a Facilitator’s Guide, a deck of trading cards featuring Giraffe Heroes, plus buttons, stickers, a CD and a DVD. The Kit is designed to be used by afterschool program facilitators and home-schooling parents, as well as in classrooms.

Giraffe Speeches and Workshops

2015 Goal: Expand the audiences for Giraffe speeches and workshops.

• We continue to offer speeches and workshops and trainings all over the world. John Graham and Ann Medlock gave a week-long series of speeches and workshops in Singapore in February, invited by the Mayor. John Graham gave a very well-received speech to a conference of investors in Rye, NY in April. In August he led an all-day workshop helping city leaders in Ketchikan Alaska grapple with thorny public problems, including a drastic drop in (oil) revenues and conflicts between Native Alaskans and whites. An enthusiastic full house greated his speech on leadership to the Seattle Mountaineers in December.

Outreach: Giraffe Website, E-newsletters, blogs, articles, posts, tweets and interviews

2015 Goal: Begin the transition to a new state-of-the art website

• Transition complete. Now more than ever, our attractive, state-of-the-art website is the Project’s primary outreach to the world. To see the full breadth of Giraffe programs on it, start with our Home Page at www.giraffe.org.

2015 Goal: Working with professional consultants, launch the process to completely redesign our web and social media presence, and to greatly increase the impact of both.

• Project completed. Now, all of our online messages easily readable on smartphones and tablets, which is how most people—especially young people—access the internet.

• The Project now has a much more robust presence on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn. Our efforts on Facebook expanded Giraffes' following to almost 6,000 by year's end, six times what it was in years past. By Boosting our posts, we got the Giraffe message to an average of 30,000 people a day in 21 countries, far exceeding any reach we had in the days before social media.

• Many more people see the stories and faces of Giraffe Heroes, and are inspired to move into compassionate action themselves. Many more people read our Executive Director’s comments on public events. The number of people getting Heads Up, the Executive Director’s popular e-zine rose rapidly in 2015. Heads Up gives thousands of Giraffe constituents some Giraffe spark on their computers, smart phones, and tablets. (If you aren’t getting it, email amedlock@giraffe.org and ask to join the Heads Up circle.)

• Our OpEds and blog posts about courage, citizen action, and current events were picked up by thousands of websites across the world, and are regular features on Huffington Post.

• Both the ED and the GHI Director did numerous online interviews and broadcasts about the Project, about teaching courageous compassion, and about the importance of sticking one’s neck out for the common good.

Immense Possibilities did a very good piece on the Project in December. See it at http://www.immensepossibilities.org/ipr-podcasts/giraffes-stick-their-necks-out/

Giraffe Heroes International

2015 Goal: Continue to expand Giraffe Heroes International, launching at least one new affiliate and strengthening all the others.

• Giraffe Heroes International continued to expand in 2015. Led by John Graham, GHI helps nations find and honor their own inspiring heroes and gives their citizens and students the tools and training they need to move into courageous service themselves. In February, GHI launched an affiliate in Singapore.

• GHI continues to coach and support Giraffe operations already launched in Nepal, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Egypt and India. In all those nations, citizens can now honor their own Giraffe Heroes, fostering civil society in places that urgently need role models of compassionate, courageous service. Throughout the year GHI affiliates, especially in Zimbabwe, grew rapidly in size and outreach.

For an update on all GHI programs, see http://www.giraffe.org/global.

Finances

2015 Goal: Continue to keep the Project on a healthy financial footing.

•The Project finished 2015 solidly in the black. See statement below and also Federal Form 990

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IV. Giraffe Heroes Project -- Our Goals, Objectives and Recommendations for Future Actions in 2016

Find and commend new Giraffes. We’ll hold Giraffe juries four times in 2016, commending at least fifteen new Giraffe Heroes, and then telling their stories.

• Expand the Giraffe Hero Database. Using contract and volunteer writers, we’ll continue to write and publish in our website database the inspiring stories of Giraffe Heroes. We will finish the mammoth multi-year task of getting the remainder of the pending stories online

Curricula. We’ll reach kids wherever we find them with our educational materials—inspiring them with the stories of real heroes, coaching them to do service projects that solve real problems they care about, and changing their own lives in the process.

Social Media. We’ll continue to expand effective social media strategies on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn and other avenues to reach potential allies, partners, customers and funders, as a way of inspiring vast numbers of people to stick their necks out for the common good.

Outreach. We will continue to expand the list of people receiving our Heads Up e-zine, spreading the Giraffe message of courageous, compassionate service, and attracting support for our work.

Giraffe Heroes International. We’ll support existing GHI programs in Sierra Leone, India, Nepal, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Singaapore and Kenya, launch a new programs in Ghana and revive one in the Muslim community in the UK.

V. Giraffe Heroes Project Board for 2016

Aaron Davis, Chair

Jayasri Ghosh, Secretary

Malory Graham, Treasurer

Ann Medlock

Dennis Flannigan/Pat Wright