Using Starbucks as a Model for Jewish Philanthropy

by James Goldman

What can the Jewish non-profit world learn from corporate coffee mavens? A lot. Starbucks is one of the most successful brands in history, and there are lessons that we use borrow from the barista bigwigs in managing successful nonprofit organizations.

  1. Segment your market smartly. Starbucks isn’t trying to please the Folgers crowd; they gear their marketing to the consumer willing and able to pay a premium price. It’s tempting in the nonprofit arena to try to please all of the people all of the time. The unfortunate reality is that we spend an inefficient amount of time trying to please everyone, and reach very few effectually.
  2. Everything emanates from the top. Hiring the right management team is integral to corporate success, and it’s integral to the success of your organization. Hire people who have a proven record of success. When you are building a complex organization hire people who have experience building these types of organizations. When you are building spirituality within an organization, then hire a rabbi. These types of people have different skill sets. Don’t assume that a Rabbi can build an organization and don’t expect a CEO to be able to provide spirituality.
  3. Exceed expectations. Starbucks measures everything, tests everything and constantly asks outside experts to size them up. By having measurements in place they can define what is success and what is not. Do you know that your organization is truly exceeding the expectations of your target audience – Starbucks does because they have measurements.
  4. Branding/attention to each detail. Everything from the way you order, the music in the background, to their commitment to the community is their branding. By focusing on each detail they make a connection to their customer. That connection is a major part of why they are successful.
    Does your organization brand itself with every action it takes? What is your connection to your customer?

When you think of coffee, you think of Starbucks. When you think of successful Jewish organizations, do you think of your organization?

James Goldman is the founder of Bridgepath, a Jewish Community for Young Adults. Twice James has built new companies that he has then sold to NASDAQ listed companies. He has a BBA from University of Massachusetts Amherst. To learn more about Bridgepath, contact James

Adapted from a presentation at the 2011 Jewish Funders Network Conference.