The Need For a Funding Roadmap

Adene Sacks, program director at the Jim Joseph Foundation, writing in the JTA: What social entrepreneurs really need ... As a foundation program director, I learn a great deal from observing the fate of entrepreneurs in the private sector. In that world, it is standard practice that a venture investor commits to the development of the entire enterprise and its entrepreneur rather than a distinct product line. Before investment, a venture investor, in addition to determining the potential in a given market, looks carefully at the growth stage of the venture and abilities of the lead entrepreneur. ... The Jewish philanthropic world needs the kind of role articulation and active management that characterizes the world of private investment. The lack of these guideposts has serious … [Read more...]

New Research Explores What “System Change” Means for Foundation Strategy

The USC-based Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy has published “Foundation Strategy for Social Impact: A System Change Perspective.” The research explores what system change means in the context of foundation strategy and examines how foundations can design strategies that create transformative rather than incremental change. The research defines and presents the essential elements of a system, examines the manner in which system change can be realized, and provides lessons for foundation decision-making and practice. In addition to their growing interest in leveraging philanthropic assets to create change in society, foundations have increasingly focused on leveraging their resources to create system change in order to achieve broader-based, longer-lasting changes in social outcomes. Yet, … [Read more...]

Spelling Success Together

In his article “How PresenTense Defines Success for Ventures Launched,” Ariel Beery explains that when PresenTense claims that “11 out of the 27 ventures that PresenTense’s summer Institute launched in the first two years of existence are successes, we mean that 11 of those 27 ventures have received follow-on funding or merged into other organizations.” Rigorous methods to determine and measure desired impact is critical for the overall growth and ultimate health of the Jewish community. UpStart Bay Area, whose mission is to advance early stage non-profits that offer innovative Jewish engagement opportunities, applauds PresenTense’s work, and encourages the Jewish community at large to think more about the elements of success for our community’s innovative ventures. If we use our burgeoning … [Read more...]

How PresenTense Defines Success for Ventures Launched

Last Thursday, July 23, the 16 fellows of PresenTense's summer Institute 2009 cohort stood before close to 250 people and in one fell swoop launched 14 new social ventures into the world. The next morning we got together for brunch to do one last reflection on the summer and its program, and the main question on everyone's mind was: now what? This question - where do PresenTense ventures go after the six weeks of the summer Institute - has been much talked about recently: it was brought up by Raphael Ahren in Haaretz, who wrote that "A number of last year's fellows, however, seem to have neglected their projects after departing the institute, with their Web sites lying barren ever since." In response a number of PresenTense's contributors and members have emailed saying that they felt fellows … [Read more...]

Social Justice Philanthropy Seeing a Resurgence

After a number of years of declining faith in the efficacy of social justice philanthropy, grantmakers and practitioners alike are showing renewed optimism, according to Social Justice Grantmaking II, a benchmarking study released today by the Foundation Center that provides an in-depth look at current attitudes and giving patterns of social justice philanthropists. The report updates the Foundation Center's groundbreaking 2005 study on this topic and includes numerous recommendations based on interviews with social justice grantmakers and practitioners. They cite a changed political environment, the success of community organizing in the recent election, and new ideas and energy in the field among a number of factors reinvigorating a commitment to social justice philanthropy. Among other … [Read more...]

Is Innovation a Driver in Jewish Engagement?

Innovation is the hot topic in the Jewish world these days and so there is no better time to point you to two articles from the current issue of the Journal of Jewish Communal Service. On the Value and Values of Social Entrepreneurship by Yoni Gordis Philanthropists play a key role in encouraging and supporting new developments that keep the Jewish community vibrant and relevant. Where they choose to focus their resources can make the difference between stasis and progress. Jewish communal debate in the past years has focused significantly on the role of Jewish philanthropists in funding new ideas and new organizations. To best understand the context in which the discussion is occurring, it is necessary to understand the unusual relationship of the Jewish community to the phenomena of … [Read more...]