Is the Choice Really One of Judaism or Democracy?

An old issue - how does Israel define itself - has now been resurrected and has come to the fore in the Knesset. Is Israel a Jewish state? Is it a democratic state? Is it a pluralistic state that represents the plurality of its citizens and, if so, should it make any pronouncements as to its ethnic, cultural, or religious identity? How is Judaism defined in the state? What role does Turkish law, HaMaharah, play in the modern Israeli society? … [Read more...]

Choosing Your Funding Sources Carefully


Professionals engaged in resource development should also be cautious of the funders’ expectations once their gift has been secured. By Stephen G. Donshik Often nonprofits are so concerned about identifying funders, cultivating them, and securing their gifts that they forget that they should consider a number of issues when soliciting philanthropic gifts or accepting public support for programs and projects. It is better to consider these concerns before accepting a grant or closing the gift than having to deal with the challenges after the funding has already been received. Before seeking or accepting any gift or grant, nonprofits have to exercise due diligence. Receiving public funding for the provision of services to the community is very enticing. Such support is perceived as the … [Read more...]

Choosing Your Clients Carefully

Nonprofit organizations not only find themselves hiring staff and selecting board members on a frequent basis but also contracting out services to outside providers, such as cleaning services, or hiring consultants in public relations, fundraising, or organizational dynamics. There are many articles written about the criteria that the agency should use to select a particular service provider or consultant. However, we do not generally focus on what criteria the consultant (or service provider) should use when deciding to work with a specific client. It is important that consultants also use criteria when deciding whether to work with a nonprofit organization. In this posting I explore some of the issues that a consultant or consulting company should consider when deciding whether to engage with a … [Read more...]

Modesty is the Best Policy for Jewish Nonprofit Organizations

modesty is best policy

The executive professional leadership of a nonprofit organization - whether the CEO (chief executive officer), associate executives, assistant executives, or other members of the executive staff - must always keep in mind that they are representatives of the organization and that whatever they do reflects on the reputation and standing of the nonprofit in the community. Of course, executives want to be treated respectfully and receive what is due to them, but they must always be mindful of how their actions will be perceived by the community. I would like to share two examples with you. Recently a nonprofit organization that is well known in Israel embarked on a multi-million dollar capital campaign to fund the purchase and renovation of a building to make it appropriate for delivering services … [Read more...]

Implementing the Buffett-Gates Initiative in the Jewish Community

Two weeks ago I reported on a philanthropic initiative developed by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to bring together mega-wealthy people to join them in signing a Giving Pledge that they would set aside a majority of their assets for use in philanthropic ventures. I thought that their idea had relevance for the Jewish community. In response to the posting I received a number of inquiries that endorsed the idea and asked how could such an idea be implemented in Jewish communities. In response, let me suggest guidelines and steps for developing a philanthropic initiative that would involve the wealthiest people in our Jewish communities around the world. Obviously, these are not written in stone, and they would need to be adapted to the culture of giving in each of the individual communities. The … [Read more...]

If It’s Good for Buffett and Gates, It’s Good for the Jewish Community

By Stephen G. Donshik Several weeks ago I watched the most amazing interview with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates on the CBS news magazine program, 60 Minutes. Many of you may have seen it as well. While watching it I immediately thought of Jewish philanthropists who contribute and support nonprofit organizations in their local communities and in Israel. In the TV interview, Buffett and Gates delivered two major messages to philanthropists and donors. … [Read more...]

Confronting Difficult Conflicts: This Is the Time of Year for Organizational Introspection

During this past year Jewish communal and Israeli nonprofit organizations experienced some trying times. Unfortunately there were several extremely negative examples of how nonprofit agencies should not function. In a number of cases the problems revolved around the position of the CEO and behavior that was either inappropriate or illegal or both. These cases raised many of these or similar questions: How did this happen to our organization? What were we doing or not doing? What were we doing wrong? How could it have been prevented? What should we do now to regain the confidence of the community and to reestablish our credibility as a communal organization? Among the most striking problems that confronted some nonprofits were CEOs having extramarital affairs with their staff members, … [Read more...]

Do Israeli Nonprofits Really Have U.S. Counterparts in Friends Organizations?

There is a double-edged sword to continually looking for outside support for Israeli organizations. By Stephen G. Donshik In an article in The Jerusalem Post of September 9, 2014 - “Israeli Nonprofits Look to US Counterparts for Funding” - Niv Elis discuss how Israeli organizations are seeking funding in the United States by creating American-based nonprofits that raise money and then transfer the funds to their Israeli counterparts. He extensively quotes Tidhar Ofek, a board member of American Support for Israel (ASI). According to its website ASI is the first organization that enables Americans to donate online, tax-deductibly, to any nonprofit organization in Israel. We do this in partnership with When you make a donation through these websites, the funds are transferred … [Read more...]