BBYO – Writing the Playbook for Jewish Engagement

Starting in 2002 when it became independent of B’nai B’rith and recommitted itself to engage Jewish teens in ways that were relevant to them, BBYO created a powerful model of online and real time connection that offers lessons for every Jewish organization. Whether your constituency is seniors, 40-somethings or young families, BBYO has developed a playbook for how to marry new technology tools with traditional ones and give teens the social connections they seek, the traditions we all want them to embrace and the ability to personalize and shape their Jewish world is ways that will last a lifetime.

Take a good long look at the website for a primer lesson. It’s there where you will find online communities for teens, alumni and parents – each offering targeted menus of engagement that speak to the interests of each demographic and that are also in sync with the BBYO mission. Teens are invited to join b-linked, the largest online network exclusively for Jewish teens – a Jewishly-focused Facebook that connects camp, school and travel friends and helps them stay in touch. BBYO’s 250,000 alumni can use the site to reconnect with old friends and with the organization that brought them together in the first place. And parents can learn how to help their teenagers create their own Jewish pathways and discover what their teens really want in a Jewish space.

A full exploration of BBYO, its web presence and its over all performance over the past seven years (read the Jewish Week coverage here) will help every Jewish organization not only understand BBYO’s approach but also give other organizations some valuable insights into how to think about membership and outreach for the soon-to-be young Jewish adults they will want to engage in their communities. Spend some time with BBYO. It’s well worth it.

Gail Hyman is a marketing and communications professional, with deep experience in both the public and private sectors. She currently focuses her practice, Gail Hyman Consulting, on assisting Jewish nonprofit organizations increase their ranks of supporters and better leverage their communications in the Web 2.0 environment. Gail is a regular contributor to eJewish Philanthropy.