Keeping Your Eye on the Ball and Controlling Your Tongue

eye on the ball

In every resource development activity, event, and conversation it is important to keep your eye on the ball, and by this I mean to maintain your focus on strengthening your relationship with donors and supporters. This can only be done by using yourself purposefully and consciously in your relationships with the supporters of your organization. However, there are times when resource development professionals, as hard as they try, sometimes lose their professionalism and commit a major error in their manner of speaking or the words they choose in certain conversations. Not too long ago, a fundraiser for the All for Children (AFC) organization, which provides services for abused and neglected children and their families, committed a major error during a conversation with one of her supporters, who … [Read more...]

Planning to Meet the Challenge Grant

challenge grant

Nonprofit organizations usually prefer receiving unrestricted donations and allocations from foundations. Such unrestricted grants give nonprofits the ability to use that money for their capital projects or programs or to add to their endowment funds. However, donors often limit how their funds can be used by identifying a specific purpose for them or by making the funding dependent on the organization’s raising additional funds for the same project. Recently an organization I am familiar with received a sizable allocation from a foundation for a capital project, but its receipt was dependent on its raising additional funds from other sources. This kind of donation is referred to as a challenge grant. It means the nonprofit is challenged to raise a certain amount of money, and receiving the … [Read more...]

Mother, Please, I Would Rather Do It Myself: The Role of Delegating Responsibilities in the Nonprofit Organization

Some of you reading this headline may remember a TV commercial for a headache remedy that ran in North America some years back. It showed an adult daughter who is focused on cooking a meal for her family, but is suffering from a terrible headache. When her mother approaches her to offer some assistance, the daughter turns to her and says, “Mother, please, I would rather do it myself.” How many of us have worked with people who give us the same message when we attempt to be helpful? How many of us work with directors, managers, and supervisors who, instead of delegating responsibilities, always let us know that they can do it better themselves? This is a challenge for both professional staff and volunteer leaders. Although I am discussing the relationship between professionals here the same could … [Read more...]

Transitioning the Donor: How to Maintain Your Organization’s Relationship with Key Supporters

person al connection

There has to be a personal connection between the donor and someone at the organization - and if and when the donor’s connection leaves the nonprofit organization, there has to be a way to continue that personal connection to the organization. By Stephen G. Donshik Every nonprofit continually strives to recruit new donors and to cultivate and maintain the connection it has with its supporters. Ideally the donors will not only think highly of the organization’s purpose and its delivery of valued services but will also have a strong connection with the chief executive officer or one of the senior staff, such as the financial resource development professional. What happens when there is a major change in the agency’s staffing, and either the CEO or the FRD professionals move on to another … [Read more...]

The Search for the Right Job: A Continual Challenge


I receive requests from colleagues on a regular basis to offer some assistance in their search for a new job. They may feel that they have accomplished all they can in their present position, or they may come to realize that there are limited opportunities for advancement or to take on new responsibilities at their current job. Sometimes they may want to work with a different client population or to focus on a different issue in Israeli society or in the Jewish community where they live. They often ask me, “How do I find out if there are opportunities working with a specific client population or focused on a particular social issue?” Such opportunities are usually not listed in the want ads in the Anglo-Jewish press or on websites that focus on either the nonprofit sector or Jewish communal … [Read more...]

Reflections on a Visit to Amsterdam’s Jewish Community

When we think of the Jews of Europe and their present struggle against anti-Semitic and anti-Israel attitudes, we have to appreciate the richness of the lives they have and their desire to continue to live in their communities. By Stephen G. Donshik Last week I had the opportunity to spend some time in Amsterdam, most of which I spent in the neighborhoods where a significant number of Jews live. The initial reason for my visit was to see several very special museum exhibits: one at the Rijks Museum of Rembrandt’s late years, an exhibit of large portraits of groups and individuals at the Amsterdam Hermitage, and two fascinating exhibits at the Jewish Historical Museum on the Jews of the Caribbean and of Indonesia. However, my mother died six weeks ago, which meant I had to plan the visit around … [Read more...]

The New Immigrant and the Israeli Nonprofit Organization


I meet with four to six new olim (immigrants) from North America each month as they seek my counsel and advice during their search for meaningful work in Israel’s voluntary sector. Most of the time olim are referred to me by people who know me or have heard of my work in the third sector in Israel. I have been on the new immigrant networking list for many years, and I am happy to share my suggestions, expertise, and experience with them. I am always struck by the experiences they have had learning to negotiate the Israeli nonprofit sector. It is not unusual for bright, talented, experienced, creative, and personable professionals from a variety of backgrounds to feel a great sense of frustration as they meet with their Israeli colleagues working for various voluntary organizations. Often they are … [Read more...]

Knowing How to Say Goodbye: The Process of Letting Someone Go

you're fired

Terminating employees is a part of our professional lives in the Jewish community, and we should strive to handle what needs to be done in the most professional and sensitive manner. By Stephen G. Donshik There is no question that it is easier to hire someone than it is to fire someone. Similarly it is more comfortable to be hired than to be fired. However, the firing process is less painful and more responsive to the sensitivities of the laid-off individual if it follows principles of appropriate professional practice informed by Jewish ethics. In terms of Jewish ethics, denying someone employment is something that should be done only in the most extreme circumstances. However, a reality of our world is that sometimes people find themselves in the wrong job, one that is suited neither to … [Read more...]