Is a Charity Jewish Just Because the Word Jewish is in the Name?
As the head of a charity ranked among the fastest-growing in the nation, and with an overall compensation package of more than $800,000, Alan R. Morse just might be one of the highest-paid nonprofit executives in the Jewish world.
But as president and CEO of the Jewish Guild for the Blind, Morse is not a well-known figure in the Jewish community. In fact, in his view, the charity he heads, despite its name, is not Jewish at all. “We are a healthcare organization, the largest of our kind in the country, and not a Jewish Federation or social agency,” Morse stated in an e-mail exchange with the Forward.
The Jewish Guild for the Blind, like several other Jewish charities in the field of social services, has somewhat of a dual identity. It defines itself as “non-sectarian,” and most of those benefiting from its work are not Jewish. But the group’s name, its history and its leadership all point to a Jewish connection, one that does not escape the eyes of current and potential donors to the organization. While exact figures are not available, many of the Guild’s major donors come from the world of Jewish philanthropy and the group frequently reaches out to potential Jewish contributors.
In this, the Guild represents a certain trend in the nonprofit world, as organizations that once were founded to provide services mostly to Jews – or in the case of hospitals and universities, to also provide employment to doctors and academics shunned by non-Jewish institutions – have quietly broadened their missions to accommodate and serve a much more diverse audience.