Mixed Sunshine and Clouds

newlogoThe outdoor weather forecast for Tampa-St. Pete today is 80 degrees (F), mixed sunshine and clouds with a 20% chance of rain. Sounds like an apt description for the annual international conference of the Jewish Funders Network that will open at the Renaissance Vinoy, a luxury resort hotel located in St. Petersburg, Florida, this afternoon.

So much has changed in the Jewish philanthropic (and broader) world since this group adjourned from their last conference in Jerusalem. Philanthropy, which has long been a powerful force in the Jewish community, is witnessing a significant shift in both perception and management. Today, philanthropists are more pro-active, draw on a relative abundance of resources, seek greater efficiency and effectiveness and at the same time feel challenged with the definition of “impact”.

This year’s Conference is built around the theme, Funding Genius: Smart Choices for Challenging Times, and couldn’t be more appropriate. With the recently released 2008 Survey of New Jewish Organizations, and a key-finding that Jewish start-ups are feeling the effects of the economic crisis, the Conference is both well-timed and well-themed.

One key new initiative is The Jewish Innovation Forum – which will bring together both innovative programs and nonprofits (from several countries) to engage in informal conversation.

On Monday morning, a new study will be released that explores the motivations and practices of independent Jewish funders during the current economic downturn. Providing a comprehensive look at Jewish philanthropists today, it suggests a “disconnect” exists between this community and innovative, independent programs.

Innovation is not the only topic on the agenda – attendees will also learn about new media tools, discuss governance in today’s changing climate, inter-generational philanthropy, Jewish Peoplehood and more.

And forty-eight hours after the group gathers Nobel Laureate, teacher, ethicist, author and activist Elie Wiesel will close the 2009 Conference. Two full days of learning, networking, planning and of course, some sun.

According to the JFN, “no major announcements are anticipated – though there will be some numbers provided on the most recent matching grant program.”

Additional posts related to this Conference:

Recent initiative announcements from the JFN: