The Thank You Letter as a Fundraising Tool

As a matter of course, Jewish nonprofit organizations send out thank you letters or e-mails to donors in response to their contributions. However, agencies may do so without always understanding the importance that an expression of appreciation has for donors. The real significance of sending a note, a letter, or even an e-mail message is often lost on many of us who work in the nonprofit sector and are constantly handling one crisis after another. It would behoove us to take a step back and think about what an expression of acknowledgment and appreciation means to donors. Recently this issue was brought to my attention by one of my graduate students in an MA program for nonprofit management. She shared with the class that her supervisor had asked her to send out an e-mail blast numbering more … [Read more...]

Israel’s First Jewish City: Developing Community and Jewish Identity

Courtesy Kedem Auctions

Last week I had the opportunity to spend two days in Tel Aviv and I witnessed firsthand the community redevelopment effort in the southern part of the city - all while searching for a minyan in which to say Kaddish. When I went looking for a minyan that would be davening mincha (afternoon) and maariv (evening), I was told that there are two synagogues very close to the hotel where I was staying. They are both about 80 years old; one is Eadot HaMizrach (Sephardic) and the other is HaGra (Askenazic). I decided to try the Askenazic shul first. It turned out I had been there almost 20 years ago when it looked as if it had just survived a war. The ceilings, walls, and windows were in terrible shape, and everything inside was either cracked or broken. This time, as I entered the building I … [Read more...]

Israeli Nonprofits and Diaspora Funders and Donors: Is An Authentic Partnership Possible?


It is the rare Israel nonprofit that develops a model of partnership in which the donor participates in making the decisions that have an impact on the planning and implementation of the supported programs. By Stephen G. Donshik Jewish professionals and volunteer leaders have learned that people give to people and not organizations. This means that if a nonprofit wants to receive support for its organization and programs, there have to be a personal connection and relationship built between its professional and/or volunteer leaders and the people they seek to attract and cultivate to support the organization. One of the issues that plague the relationship between Israel nonprofits and their funders, donors, supporters, and contributors around the world is developing a real sense of … [Read more...]

Promoting from Within or Hiring from Outside: What is Best for the Nonprofit?

Organizations in the process of engaging new management or supervisory staff members often face a dilemma as whether to promote from within the organization or to bring in someone new from the outside. This is not a simple issue. It depends not only on whether there are capable and appropriate people presently employed who would be in line for a promotion. It also depends on the organization’s believing that bringing someone new into the organization would offer a fresh view that may provide opportunities for rethinking the way the agency provides its services to the community. The issue becomes more complicated when we consider the nonprofit’s interest in developing a solid staff component that will have a sense of the organization’s history and commitment to the community. Often stability is … [Read more...]

The Meaning of Yom Ha’azmaut for Jewish Organizations Around the World

For some Jewish organizations, one of the most difficult happy occasions to celebrate is Yom Ha’azmaut, Israel Independence Day. Of course for “Zionist organizations,” meaning those organizations that promote Israel and support for the Jewish state, this is a non-issue. These Israel advocacy organizations and educational institutions develop programs for their constituencies, their students, and the general community that seek to strengthen support and involvement with Israel and to celebrate the miracle of the establishment and continued growth of a Jewish state in today’s world. Similarly, the religious movements, excluding the anti-Zionist Charedi (Ultra-Orthodox) groups, work to support and strengthen Israel to varying degrees. For the most part, the more right leaning (observant of Jewish … [Read more...]

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...]