Why Funding the Jewish Project You’ve Never Heard of is a Big Deal

by Daniel Bloom As a Jewish innovation enthusiast, and as a software engineer, it was with great excitement and surprise that I learned of the Jim Joseph Foundation awarding a $250,000 grant in support of the Sefaria project. Sefaria describes itself as “a living library of Jewish Texts and their interconnections, in Hebrew and in translation.” It offers a beautiful interface to open source Jewish texts, accompanied by parallel crowdsourced translations, and includes some works translated into English for the very first time. True, there are other repositories for Jewish texts on the web, but here’s why this grant in support of Sefaria is such a big deal: 1. While Sefaria can be used as an excellent standalone application, it has additional potential when viewed as an infrastructure that … [Read more...]

The Tech Side of Camp


by Rabbi Jason Miller New Brunswick, NJ - As Jewish camp leaders once again convened at Leaders Assembly, the Foundation for Jewish Camp's biennial conference here in New Brunswick, there was a lot of networking taking place - both in person and via social media. The dozens of ad hoc camp reunions taking place in the hallways of the hotel also materialized into an exchange of best practices for these Jewish camp professionals. The hot topic this year was the use of technology, both in the back office of the camp operations and front and center for campers, their parents and alumni. What role all of this new technology plays for the Jewish summer camp industry was hashed out in breakout sessions at the camp confab in what were termed "Hot Topics" and also discussed in the "Shuk" where the … [Read more...]

Disrupting the Nonprofit Sector

NTC 2013; photo courtesy JD Lasica.

by Caroline Avakian The 2014 Nonprofit Technology Conference, which took place recently in DC, is a conference that so many nonprofit tech and communications staffers look forward to every year because of the great sessions, useful tips and tools, and awesome people committed to using technology to advance social good. I was pretty excited when I saw that there was a “Disrupting the Nonprofit Sector” session. I like forward-thinking panels of this type because I look to conferences for two things: practical tools and updates on my sector that I can use straightaway on Monday morning, and importantly, sessions on the future of our sector. Here are some of the high-level thoughts and takeaways from the “Disrupting the Nonprofit Sector” session hosted by Amy Sample Ward, CEO, NTEN, … [Read more...]

Is Your Website Vulnerable to Attack?

Cyber security

by Russel Neiss A couple months ago, upon visiting one of my favorite Jewish websites (a well-known site), I was served with a warning that doing so would have potentially infected my computer with malware. This malware could have caused identity theft, stolen my passwords, deleted files on my computer and otherwise generally caused havoc on my machine. This was a minor nuisance, but not the first time my security was imperiled by a Jewish organization not taking adequate security precautions. About three years ago, the email address and password that I used to logon to a well-known Jewish educational listserv were (along with the credentials of more than 3,000 other Jewish educators) released online to various hacker forums around the web after that organization's website was also … [Read more...]

The Dirty Dozen Website Mistakes


by Molly Ritvo A new year offers fresh opportunities to develop new relationships while strengthening existing ones. It is also the perfect time to tune up your website. With 2013 behind us, we encourage staffers to take a close look at your website and examine every single page for content, style, tone and layout. Think about the big questions first and ask yourself: is this page really necessary? What is the main message from this page? Is there a shorter, more effective way of saying it? It’s a best practice to regularly maintain your website to keep it functioning optimally, much like a car. To help kick-off your website tune-up, below are the most common mistakes we’ve seen on websites. Is your site suffering from any of these dirty dozen mistakes? 1. Too much white … [Read more...]

Forget CRM Think Community


by Isaac Shalev Hear me out. CRM is a strategy for reaching our donors, evaluating their interest in and capacity for giving, and then moving them through a funnel to convert them into donors. Since we can track their interactions, we can also measure how effective different types of outreach are in pushing people through that funnel. CRM is a laboratory for filtering and isolating our best donors out from the masses. In a CRM environment, we do a lot of A/B testing and other kinds of experiments. We introduce different stimuli, record behaviors, and compare to baselines. We create hypotheses and theories and fit them to our data. We do all this work in order to bring in donations. Those are good goals, but perhaps there’s a better way to achieve it. The problems with CRM are many. … [Read more...]