Time to Change the Model
both articles are from The New Jersey Jewish Standard:
Typically, a federation collects donations and then disburses them, after expenses, where its lay and professional leaders decide they are most needed. It’s able to do this because of what Howard Charish, its executive vice president, called its “centrality.”…
That model has been effective for decades, particularly where Israel’s needs were concerned. But then a fierce new wind blew through the philanthropic world. And you could say that wind was Katrina.
Sociologist Peter Frumkin, just back from speaking before a Hebrew University conference on philanthropy and public policy in Israel, told The Jewish Standard that the challenges federations are facing are part of a broader social trend: “Disintermediation, removal of the middle man. You see it in financial services” as well as in the charitable world, he noted…
Another universal challenge in the field of philanthropy is that donors want “evidence of impact.” There’s a “heightened sense of attention paid to evaluating results, measuring performance, and reporting on impact.”
This emphasis, he said, “stems from a kind of ethos of investing. You want to have some kind of sense of what the impact and the results [of your investing] are.” But while “the metrics we use to measure financial performance are very precise, the metrics we use to measure philanthropic performance are much less precise.”
It is difficult to measure, for example, whether a donation intended to foster Jewish identity does just that.
A particular challenge for Jewish charities is that younger donors “interpret philanthropy as healing the world,” not necessarily the Jewish world. “Their idea is tikkun olam, helping people and changing the world for the better. They are not so deeply aligned with Israel and Jewish causes” as their elders.