Mind The Gap

(eJP note: as “Tomorrow” opens later today, an extremely relevant guest post from the Jewish Donor Blog).

There exists a broad generational leadership gap within many Jewish organizations, large and small.

This gap, and how well we handle the transition, will have a profound effect on the future of Jewish fundraising.

Here are my thoughts on the aforementioned Jewish organizational leadership gap:

Many high profile Jewish institutions have simply not properly groomed the next generation of leaders on how to be viable and successful future leaders.

I’m not sure if this has occurred out of a lack of available talent in the next generation, which I doubt very highly, a lack or foresight, or possibly mistrust by the current generation of leadership in turning the reigns over to the new generation.

Have the Boomers been at the helm so long that they can’t or won’t imagine it any other way?

Are the Boomers really “indispensable”?

One undeniable fact in this multi-dimensional debate, and that is that the baby boomer generation is nearing retirement age.

If the Boomers can’t or won’t see far enough down the proverbial road to properly train the future generation then I think that they are doing themselves, their organizations, and really the greater Jewish community a huge disservice.

Do we need some sort trust building seminar between the Boomers and the next generation in order to realize that yes, Jewish organizations will continue to thrive in the future? Maybe the Boomers need to let go a of a little bit of their well deserved ego and the young leadership needs to get a little swagger in their step.

Does the new generation need to prove themselves before any responsibility will change hands? Maybe, but it’s tough to prove oneself unless given the opportunity and the proper preparation.

One things for sure: We have come a long way with our current organizational leadership and in order to preserve our gains and carry on successfully in the future we need capable new leaders to be properly trained and given the opportunity to show that we too can be great leaders!

One last plea to the Boomers: Set the next generation up for success not failure. Believe in us and give us the proper tools to achieve what you have. You earned your wings, let us have that opportunity as well.

Here’s to a a successful new generation of Jewish leadership and here’s a hat tip to Aimee Neistat who wrote the article I read that put the the wheels in motion for this post…

“Ideally yes – if you’re a Zionist and you’re a Jew, you should live in Israel.
But that’s ideally. In the meantime, just because you don’t live in Israel that
doesn’t mean you don’t have to take responsibility and some sort of role in the
state. Whether that’s done by raising money [or] by bringing people to the
country, there are plenty of ways you can [support Israel],” she said. Despite her undying loyalty to WIZO, Gostin points out that many of the group’s leaders had considered themselves indispensable, and hadn’t bothered to train successors. According to Gostin, this organizational flaw (hardly unique to WIZO) caused an age gap, and could possibly have led to the group’s demise. But in recent years, she says, WIZO Australia has focused on closing that age gap through programs designed to attract younger members. “We now have some very active [young members]. They’re tremendous – they understand what they’re doing and they’re thrilled with what they’re doing,” she says. “It’s fine that I’m president, but the next one should be younger,” she adds.”

– Aimee Neistat,
Jerusalem Post, Jan 2008.

Yoav Kaufman, is a List Manager with Negev Direct Marketing Inc.