Igniting the Light of Channuka with Apps

My Menorah App

By Mordecai Holtz When I hear the word nonprofit, I don’t usually think of technology and apps. In the age of digital media and, in many respects, digital communities, Jewish organizations need to continue to find the tools that respond to current interests, technological opportunities, while remaining true to the Jewish traditions of educating and inspiring the next generation. Thankfully, albeit slowly, more Jewish organizations are pushing the envelope by redefining the classic definition of engagement. These organizations and agencies are bridging the gap between classic Jewish education and the technology available to ensure that Judaism remain relevant and engaging to future generations. With chanukah around the corner, many are polishing their silver menorahs, fine tuning their … [Read more...]

How Does Your Website Measure Up?

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Early in 2014, over 500 Canadian charities took a benchmark survey where they were asked about everything from website strategy and revenue tracking to metrics and digital fundraising activities. After you read this report you will be able to answer questions like: Why do we need a web strategy? How often should we plan to update our website? What does the perfect donation page look like? How does my charity measure up to sector benchmarks? What role should our website play in growing our fundraising program? Your organization does not need to be Canadian to benefit from the results. The complete report 2014 State of the Web Nation is available here. … [Read more...]

Why Mechon Hadar’s New Website is a Big Deal

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By Aharon Varady Founded less than a decade ago, Mechon Hadar, or Hadar for short, is the umbrella institution of the celebrated halakhic egalitarian Yeshivat Hadar. Hadar just updated its website and it's not just another institutional facelift. After eight years of growth, Hadar has created a treasure trove of Torah resources, and now it has chosen to share them, intentionally. With very few exceptions, all of Hadar's resources are now shared with an Open Content license. Open Content licenses employ the power of copyright law to ensure that a creative work remains properly attributed while abrogating the normal operation of copyright that forbid the work's redistribution and adaptation. Open Content is an outgrowth of Open Source, a strategy by which computer programmers have long … [Read more...]

Growing Jewish Identity on the Platforms the World is Moving Onto

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By Abigail Pickus When Mordechai Lightstone attended the South by Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSW) in 2010 to speak about ‘Judaism 2.0,’ he packed a little something else in his suitcase besides his clothes. “We bought kosher meat in New York and brought it with us,” said the 29-year-old social media director for Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters who, with his wife, Chana, traveled to Austin from their home in Brooklyn with the plan of throwing a one-off kosher bbq. Little did they know that their bbq, which they initially tweeted as an open invitation for one and all, would soon become a SXSW tradition. Today, #openShabbat, which bills itself as an “unplugged Sabbath,” now attracts upwards of 150 people - many of whom are participants in the popular conference on emerging technology. … [Read more...]

Kickstarter Levels the Financial Playing Field for Women

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Hebrew University research finds crowdfunding reduces barriers to women looking to raise capital Jerusalem, August 18, 2014 - Numerous studies have shown that women engage less than men in either entrepreneurship or business investing. Women also launch firms with significantly less capital than men, which limits their ability to grow their firms and increases their risk of financial distress in periods of adversity. Now, new research from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem shows that crowdfunding could level the playing field for women wishing to raise capital for their ventures, and in some cases even give them an advantage. Crowdfunding is a recent form of fundraising that involves financing projects or ventures by raising small amounts of money from many people, usually via the Internet. … [Read more...]

Coding the Next Iron Dome?

It is clear that there is every possibility that one of the people in the room could be the next Iron Dome inventor, and that their time in Israel has made them even more connected to the possibility of doing something big. Photo courtesy The Jewish Agency.

A group of young 20-somethings stand in a Soho-like loft space in a tech incubator in South Tel Aviv, presenting the future of traffic to a panel of the Start Up Nation’s leading lights. The CTO of PayPal Israel is there (they are sponsoring the event), as is a representative of the Prime Minister’s Office, and so are several experts on the emerging field of smart cities. by Sara K. Eisen "Building Brilliant” is the theme of the day-long hackathon now culminating in what was supposed to be a rooftop cocktail party, but is now a modest meet and greet, because there is a war going on. But the participants are chill. “When the siren sounds we go and code in the shelter, and then we just move on,” says Kevin, a software engineering student from Montevideo with a shrug. Resilient, … [Read more...]

Just Released: A Guide to Synagogue Management Updates for 2014

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UJA-Federation of New York has released Volume 7 in their series of Innovations and Strategies for Synagogues of Tomorrow - A Guide to Synagogue Management: Research and Recommendations Updates for 2014. This report serves as an updated overview of the market for synagogues looking to implement new data-management systems, or those that want to learn more about how their current system compares to others on the market. Even as synagogues look to better understand the many ways technology can help them interact with and manage their congregations, the marketplace is changing, with new software options available all the time. UJA-Federation of New York, along with the Orthodox Union, Union for Reform Judaism, and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, retained Idealware to conduct research in order … [Read more...]

Buyer Beware: The Hidden Costs of Free Software for Nonprofits

by Gretchen Barry The Appeal and Illusion of Free When it comes to purchasing new software, many organizations do so to increase efficiency, save time, and reduce costs. This is particularly true of nonprofits, which often have limited staff and busy schedules. Enter “free” software: on its surface, a simple, cost-effective solution. However, free software isn’t always free, and nonprofit executives often learn this the hard way: after incurring costs from implementation, consultants, ancillary features, support, and ongoing maintenance. These costs add up to more than a solution with an upfront cost but long-term savings. Below are pitfalls to avoid and tips to help you select something that will be a better fit for you, your nonprofit, and your budget over the long haul. The … [Read more...]