There are key lessons in the success of new programs aimed at building community, fostering engagement, and deepening a sense of peoplehood:
- Lower Barriers , says Pippi Kessler of the Mothers Circle. “We always offer our programs for free, and let them know they don’t have to be a member of anything.”
- Personalize, says PJ Library’s Marcie Greenfield-Simons. “Each family is unique. Organizations that adopt the concierge model, where outreach to families happens almost one-on-one, will have the biggest impact.”
- Welcome, advises Arielle Morrison of San Diego’s YAD. “If you don’t help someone new feel welcome, they won’t come back. We have 12 volunteers solely dedicated to newcomers at events.”
- Wait, cautions Jewish Gateway’s Bridget Wynne. “If the mentality is, ‘Let’s get them in and get the money,’ we’re going to lose them. If we support them to pursue their own Jewish interests, then we’ll get buy-in.”
- Adapt, says Professor Susan Chambre of Baruch College. “Our lives are different than two generations ago. Our expectations are different. Our participation is different. Jewish organizations have to undergo structural and cultural changes to meet those shifts.”
Excerpted from an article in TOGETHER: Jewish Giving Today, published by The Jewish Federations of North America.