JFN 2009: Discussion Topics

This year’s JFN Conference features a wide-range of discussion topics. These are just a few – they all have application to most organizations. The goal is to spur conversation.

  • Smart Choices for Challenging Times: Innovation seems a simple enough concept, but is it really as straightforward as just “doing something new?” Or does being innovative require something more, such as making a pattern-breaking change, or altering the boundaries of the possible? As the economic downturn continues, funders and nonprofits alike are asking tough questions, reassessing priorities, and looking at new challenges.
  • Leveraging Your Grants: Tough times require tough choices. Often there is a desire to hunker down and focus on core business. Another approach is to recognize the low-opportunity cost of building or trying something new.

  • Social Media for Social Animals: Not only can new media tools build trust and collaboration, but they eliminate the restraints of geography, age, and disparate missions among groups of people working offline.
  • Funding Innovation and Nurturing Social Entrepreneurs: Social entrepreneurs offer an intriguing approach to funding innovation. They are individuals who drive change through pattern-breaking solutions, looking outside existing boundaries to turn a vision into reality.
  • After Madoff – Governance and Investment in a Changing Regulatory Climate: Good governance and investment oversight are important and time-consuming fiduciary responsibilities. After the Madoff scandal, the exercise of fiduciary duties by foundation trustees and directors has come under greater scrutiny by state and federal regulators.
  • Storytelling Between Generations – New Approaches to Intergenerational Philanthropy: When multiple generations of family-members make decisions together there is always a need for effective cross-generational communications and succession planning.
  • Peoplehood, Pluralism and the Diaspora – Jewish Identity For Israelis: The issue of Jewish identity among Israelis continues to challenge the philanthropic world and the Israeli public. How do Israelis relate to their Judaism? How do they relate to the Jewish people? Can we work together to forge better communities?
  • Beyond Limits – Thinking Differently about Risk: “Bounded rationality” is a term that refers to the limitations of decision makers, and how those limitations sometimes compromise the quality of their decisions – features an exploration of how decision makers think about risk, how risk influences the decisions they make, and what steps they can take to mitigate risk’s negative effects on their decision-making.
  • New Approaches to Foundation Evaluation: Imagine if evaluation were simple, inexpensive, and provided useful information that helped you become a more effective grantmaker? A recent study from FSG Social Impact Advisors examined nearly 100 staffed foundations with grant budgets ranging from $1 million to $1 billion and found a profound shift in the field toward more pragmatic and participatory evaluation approaches.
  • Communications Best Practices: In today’s “connected” world, it is critical for nonprofits to have a thoughtful and well funded communications strategy that includes new media for relationship building, recruitment, fundraising and more. This session will explore detailed, case studies of successful social media communications models in Jewish organizations, including social networking (Facebook), blogs, data management, online fundraising and how to “tell your story” online.