Sylvanvale Foundation + eTapestry

Sylvanvale Foundation was the winner of last year’s bbcon 10k challenge – justifiably so, given their team’s passion and never-ending commitment to empowering and supporting people with a disability to live the life they choose. The 10k donation has had a powerful impact on the organisation and the people it supports.

We enter a world of passion, determination and an overwhelming desire to make an impact in society, and take you on the journey which led to the creation of their winning entry.


Sylvanvale has been supporting people with a disability for 70 years. It was founded in 1947 when a group of parents of children with a disability wanted a better quality of life for their kids. Its very foundation was in the community, and today Sylvanvale remains closely connected to the community. Sylvanvale supports over 750 children and adults with a disability, and assists them to live and participate in the community as they choose.

Jake Lyandon is the Sydney based charity’s Digital Marketing Specialist who has been working at Sylvanvale for over a year. He was instrumental in bringing to life the passion of Sylvanvale’s staff and the people they support in its video entry for Blackbaud’s bbcon $10K Challenge.

With such a strong passion and commitment for what they do in the community every day, it was no surprise that Sylvanvale’s video was built around the theme of ‘PASSION’.

“Our passion is seeing the passions of the people we support come to life,” said Jake.

According to Jake, the $10,000 donation to Sylvanvale could not come at a better time particularly amidst the pre-planning stages of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

“This is a time of significant change for the people we support, their families and for Sylvanvale. The NDIS means a whole new way of doing things and making of the video came at a really fantastic time – it was a great boost to morale,” said Jake.

There are many inspirational stories behind the people shown in the video. One such story is that of Ingrid, who spent two years losing weight and preparing to fulfil her dream of skydiving.

The Sylvanvale video took around a month to complete from conception right through to finalisation. It was promoted through numerous channels such as Sylvanvale’s newsletter and Facebook – and utilised the eTapestry solution to segment their supporter database and enable them to target supporters.

Jake was surprised and excited by some of the results they achieved with the video through social media.

“Over 50,000 people engaged with our video via Facebook which is absolutely amazing, and it was so fantastic to see all of the love and comments that surrounded it.” – Jake Lyandon, Sylvanvale

The video also provided a unique opportunity to convey how, just like everyone, people with a disability have their own unique passions, talents and interests.

According to Cathy Quinn, Sylvanvale’s Executive General Manager, Customer and Community Relations, one of the key ingredients when making this video was ensuring it conveyed the diverse and extensive range activities that that the people Sylvanvale supports participate in. These are activities which they co-design together.

“We are the facilitators and they are the owners. It’s about giving them permission to think differently and creatively instead of just participating in traditional funded programs.” – Cathy Quinn, Sylvanvale

So What Did The Sylvanvale Team End Up Doing With The $10,000?

The money went towards supporting two of their key social enterprise initiatives – Enterprising Women and Art with Heart, both which enable people with disability to use their creative talents and connect with the community.

Enterprising Women is an all abilities group which creates and package beautiful products such as soaps and succulents in hand-made pots. The group originally started with the goal of moving beyond conventional group activities and trying something new, The success they’ve achieved has seen them transform their creative hobby into an income generating business, and they now sell their products at events.  Winning the $10,000 enabled them to purchase materials to make their products, contribute to promoting their products and to further refine their skills.

Last Christmas, Enterprising Women took their business to the next level, running a mass campaign through the Blackbaud eTapestry Ecart that enabled them to sell their products online. This provided a new channel for the women, allowing them to showcase their products more broadly. Art with Heart was the other initiatives that benefited from the 10k donation.

Art with Heart is an art therapy program that allows people with a disability, many of them non-verbal, to explore their creativity and express themselves on the canvas and a range of other mediums. The monies helped Sylvanvale pay for art classes, purchase additional canvases and art supplies and also assisted in preparing another gallery in the Sutherland Shire showcasing these amazing artworks.

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