High Impact Philanthropy: The 2008 JFN Conference

We would like to thank the Jewish Funders Network for providing this Conference summary to us. The audio files are available here in the right side-bar.

2008 Conference–A Few Highlights

Top-level presenters, artists, politicians, and thought- leaders, “seminar on wheels” site visits, and a turnout that meant the David Citadel, Jerusalem, was bursting at the seams were all part of the scene at the 2008 International Conference.

It was a rare opportunity to network with a dynamic, multigenerational group of Jewish philanthropists from around the world, and an experience that by all accounts re-energized giving, helped form powerful new collaborations, and suggested new philanthropic strategies for improving impact across a range of initiatives.

We are working to share the contents and outcomes of the 2008 International Conference with you! Spin-off programming is also in the works so check JFN’s website for updates!

2008 Opening Plenary: The Elusive Common Ground?

This plenary explored the relationships between members of the global Jewish community through the prism of the place of Israel in our individual Jewish identities, asking questions like: is Israel at the center of a Jewish People? does it even matter? can we move forward together if we don’t have a common understanding?

Isaac Herzog, Minister for Social Affairs and Services and for Diaspora Affairs; Leonid Nevzlin, Nadav Fund; Raya Strauss Bendror; David Shneer, University of Denver; Moderator, Yaacov Ahimeir

Philanthropy in Israel: Reflections on a New Era

The emergence of a unique Israeli philanthropic community is one of the great stories of the last decade. Conference delegates heard insights from some of the world’s most engaged Jewish philanthropists who discussed a set of central questions about giving in and to Israel and about the quality and growth of Jewish philanthropy today.

Is the emerging Israeli philanthropy unique – and if so, how? What are the biggest obstacles to philanthropic activity in Israel? What is Jewish giving – and is Israeli giving Jewish? Do Israeli philanthropists see a role for themselves outside of Israel? Ought Israelis be involved in alleviating global Jewish issues? Are non-Israelis too involved in funding in Israel?

Danna Azrieli, Azrieli Foundation; Charles R. Bronfman, Chair, Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies; Avner Stepak, CEO, Meitav Investment House; Moderator Dana Weiss

Power and Philanthropy

To quote Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility. As funders, our wealth brings us power and access, and we make an impact with more than just our grants. How we act as grantmakers— both publicly in how we give and to what we give, and privately as persons of influence — has its own effect. How do we fulfill our responsibility honorably and use our power wisely? Where is the line between a project of personal interest that serves a purpose and a vanity project? When does a funder need to hear “no”?

Rivka Carmi, President, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; Dov Lautman, Chair of Executive Board, Tel Aviv University; Eitan Wertheimer, Chair, IMC; Moderator Dalia Yairi-Dolev

The Agony & the Ecstasy: A case study in driving change in a foundation

Managing change in a foundation is no easy task. In this session John Healy used his experience at The Atlantic Philanthropies as a case study for unraveling the complexities of how to organize a foundation’s work to make significant and sustainable impact.

As CEO and President of The Atlantic Philanthropies, John Healy managed the foundation’s successful transition to a more focused model, including the decision to spend down its remaining endowment of approximately $4 billion by 2016.