Discovering Armenia has taken on a new meaning. In 2007 Suzy Antounian organized a trip to learn more about Armenia's civil society organizations, many of them homegrown initiatives established since independence. While some receive support from local Armenian sources, many depend on foreign funding sources such as large international non-governmental organizations, some faith based organizations, government aid agencies and international agencies such as the UN or European Union agencies.
The trip was conducted as a Giving Circle, with each participant committing to contribute a certain amount in a common pool to be re-granted to the NGOs that the group would collectively identify as the most deserving. All travel expenses were paid for separately by the participants themselves. The idea was born from a desire to support those leaders in Armenia who, having seen a need, have taken the initiative to act and invest themselves in efforts to bring about social change. By supporting local leaders and local institutions, the group felt that it would not only affect social change, but also support the local capacity to do so.
Since 2007 Suzy has led 4 Giving Circle trips to Armenia introducing donors to over 25 non-governmental organizations and thought leaders. During these trips, participants have a chance to visit privately with a diverse range of organizations and leaders and learn first-hand about their work. They get a better understanding of life and society in Armenia and gain an appreciation of the country’s social challenges. After their visit to Armenia, Giving Circle participants identify one or two potential grantees from whom they solicit a project proposal. Grantees are selected based on the following criteria:
The importance of the NGO's work in improving the conditions of the community which it serves;
The multiplier effect of the services provided and their impact on individuals and society;
The nature of the organization’s leadership – the leaders’ level of engagement in the organization’s mission, their abidance to ethical standards, their investment in the organization’s capacity and their track record of successful implementation.
Grants are awarded based on the proposals submitted and the final approval of BAFA’s board.
You can meet many of our grantees on The Change makers which you can view by clicking here. Since its inception, the Giving Circle has made small grants to the following organizations:
AIDS Prevention, Education and Care NGO (APEC)
To conduct HIV/AIDS Education in Secondary Schools
To conduct teacher training in support of new curriculum
Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment (AWHHE)
To produce a documentary, The Victims of the Black Bull, and conduct public education on the ecological challenges in the North of Armenia. Click here to view the video.
To report on the conditions of Armenian citizens living and working in Turkey. Many of these articles are available on the HETQ website.
To update and translate its website
Our Lady of Armenia Convent (Armenian Sisters' Academy)
General operating support for their youth summer programs
United Methodist Committee of Relief (UMCOR) – Armenia
To conduct vocational training for the vulnerable youth in Armenia
Women's Resource Center
To support its work in promoting women’s role in Armenian Society
If you would like more information on how to join the next Giving Circle trip to Armenia, please contact
or write to:
Bay Area Friends of Armenia P.O. Box 3584 Daly City, CA 94015-0584