Your Daily Phil: Amy Holtz on nonprofit mission creep + Don’t forget suburban millennials

Good Tuesday morning!

For the first time since 2019, around 150 professionals from a range of Israel advocacy organizations are convening in person in Denver at the Israel on Campus Coalition’s Field Professional Retreat. The conference, which started on Monday afternoon and runs through Wednesday, aims to reinforce the common ground shared among staff in a field increasingly fractured by ideological differences, and facing an environment in which a recent survey found that nearly a third of Jewish college students had experienced antisemitism.

“We’re living in a more challenging world and environment than we ever have before, in terms of the divisiveness, in terms of the rising antisemitism in the United States, in terms of the growing divide between left and right,” ICC CEO Jacob Baime told eJewishPhilanthropy. “ICC is one place where people can come together to transcend those differences.”

For Baime, successfully bringing together different Israel-related organizations is about serving rank-and-file participants’ fundamental needs: professional development, strategic planning and, most importantly, networking.

“We have built a coalition over the years that is based on personal relationships,” Baime said. “It’s very important to convene executives. But we have found that the best way to spur real, meaningful collaboration is to introduce frontline practitioners employed by various organizations to each other. And that’s really what we’re doing here.”

The conference’s professional development is focused in part on mental health, with the Mayo Clinic running a two-hour session on its  Stress Management and Resiliency Training, or SMART, program. Another breakout session is titled “Finding Spirituality, Meaning, and Connection in an Overwhelming World.”

Though burnout among professionals is an oft-discussed topic in the Jewish world, Baime said the mental health-focused sessions weren’t prompted by any particular concerns for Israel advocacy staff. Instead, they grew out of the effort to “provide real value to all of the professionals who are employed by our coalition partners,” he said.

“We want to invest in the individuals who have chosen to step onto the front lines and fight for Jewish civil rights in the United States [and] for a strong relationship between the United States and Israel,” Baime said.

During part of the conference, participants will be divided into groups based on the regions they oversee in order to coordinate for the upcoming school year, which Baime expects will keep Israel advocacy organizations busy, particularly on college campuses.

“We are preparing for…a very difficult academic year starting this coming fall,” he said. “Our adversaries are investing way more in the fight to alienate the next generation of American leaders from the Jewish state. So that is one of the primary dynamics our coalition will have to confront in the months ahead.”

The ask

Amy Holtz on helping nonprofits achieve their vision and avoid mission creep

Photo of Amy Holtz

Courtesy of Amy Holtz

About 15 years ago, Amy Holtz changed her life: Throughout the previous few years, she had started growing more Jewishly observant, and then moved from a decades-long career in the private sector to the Jewish nonprofit world — serving at the head of a succession of Jewish organizations. A few years ago, Holtz, 58, moved to consulting, and is working with a company called EOS Worldwide. She spoke with eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales about the biggest challenges she’s seen across the Jewish organizational sphere and what she’s learned through four decades of career changes.

Too much vision: “So the first thing is vision, getting everyone 100% on the same page with where you’re going and how you’re going to get there,” she said. “What typically happens isn’t lack of vision but too much vision. So the chair of the board might have one vision, right? And everybody on the board might have a different vision. The CEO could have a completely separate vision… So we clarify why they exist and what they do, and we use that as a filter to avoid mission creep.”

Getting buy-in: “I think running a Jewish nonprofit is harder” than running a for-profit business, she said. “When I make a decision at Party City, it’s like, I make a decision and I execute. When I want to make a decision at a nonprofit, I have to get the board to buy in. I have to get my major donors to buy in. You need to be a much more sophisticated leader in a nonprofit.”

Read the full interview here.


Don’t forget the other millennials


“Since becoming a leader within the Jewish community just over 20 years ago, I have observed a major focus on engaging young adults. We can see that there are services and programs set up with the explicit purpose of attracting young adults to connect with synagogues or to their Jewish identity. More recently the language has shifted from young adults to millennials, so that currently we are talking about engaging people who are now between the ages of 26 and 41,” writes Rabbi Danny Burkeman, senior rabbi at Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland, Mass., in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy

Urban Judaism: “But despite the articulated focus of this work on young adults/millennials, the real target group has often ended up being single Jews in their 20s and 30s (with emphasis at one point being Jewish singles events). This has also meant that almost all the investment has gone into urban centers where people in this age group tend to choose to live. For the longest time it has felt like attracting and engaging young adult singles is the ‘Holy Grail’ of the Jewish community, even for synagogues and communities who might be located in areas without critical mass in this demographic.”

Living in ‘the burbs’: “And while this is an important group worth investing in, it does miss an often-neglected group of their peers – those in the suburbs as young singles, young couples and young families… Having worked in both urban and suburban settings, I have seen that the differences in the young adults/millennials with whom I was engaging often revolved around where they were on their personal life’s journey. Those who had moved to the suburbs tended to (though not exclusively) have found their life partner, or have begun growing their own family. A move to the suburbs is often less determined by age and more by stage of life, which can happen at different times for different people. There are lots of young adults/millennials we need to invest in, they just happen to no longer be singles living in the city.”

Read the full piece here.


Space at the table for everyone


“Like many Jewish communities, Cincinnati seeks to widen the tent and foster Jewish connections for more people. And we know we cannot do this work alone,” writes Kim Newstadt, director of research & learning at the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Community study: “Data from our 2019 Community Study conducted by Brandeis University revealed that 48% of Jewish adults seek greater connection to Jewish life, but many of them rarely participate in Jewish organizations and experience barriers to connection… Because we have a mandate to serve the entire Jewish community, the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati (TJF) took this data to heart.”

Reflect Cincy: “Enter Reflect Cincy, a pool of innovation funding — provided by TJF — designed to spark meaning and connections with underrepresented segments in the community, specifically young adults without children, interfaith families with children and families with young children.”?

The team: “When we first began planning Reflect Cincy, our trustees and staff understood that for this money to make a difference, the people we wanted to engage would need to be at the table… We wanted to build a grantmaking team with a mix of lived experiences and connection to their Jewishness, including bridge-builders — people who are involved in local Jewish organizations with broad networks. Ten people now serve on Reflect Cincy’s creative team. For most of these individuals, Reflect Cincy was their first grantmaking experience and for several, it was their first compelling encounter with a local Jewish institution in recent years.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Stand Out from the Crowd: Nonprofits shouldn’t focus their marketing campaigns solely on raising funds, Candice Pascoal writes in NonProfitPRO, but should try new things and attempt  to stand out amid the sea of nonprofits: “The first thing you need to focus on as a nonprofit organization is raising awareness and making people see why your specific cause is essential…At times, you just want to start a conversation and make people aware of the consequences of not paying attention. In such cases, surprise campaigns work effectively and leave a lasting impression on the audience. It grabs the attention and urges them to know more about your cause. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that your message reaches the masses.” [NonProfitPRO]

Closing the Loop after Closing the Gift: 
Reporting back to donors can make a huge difference in their connection to the organization and in their future giving or involvement potential, Richard Perry writes in NonProfitPRO: “[Major gifts officers] who closed the loop and told their donor that their gift made a difference had the following experiences: A $5,000 donor was asked for $6,000 but gave $75,000. A $10,000 donor gave $100,000. A donor who gave $100,000 the previous year gave $350,000 and then gave another $250,000 two months later. What is the critical difference? Telling the donor that their gift made a difference. That’s it. Nothing more. Just that act alone is a powerful input to the donor as they realize that what they dreamed about doing actually happened…One tiny report makes a tremendous difference.”[NonProfitPRO]

Money & Millennials: 
Charlotte Cowles reports for The New York Times on her interviews with more than 30 millennials about their finances, how they save, spend and invest, and what their struggles are: “By the time our parents (baby boomers, typically) were our age, most of them were already raising us. But the majority of millennials aren’t yet married, let alone having children. One reason, of course, is lack of money. They are contending with a student debt crisis and staggering racial wealth inequities. Kneecapped by the Great Recession, the average millennial in 2016 was earning about 20 percent less than baby boomers did at the same stage of life. That wage gap casts a long shadow over what millennials can save and invest. By 2019, Americans born in the 1980s were 11 percent behind wealth expectations based on previous generations. (And that was good news; the deficit was 34 percent just three years earlier.) Meanwhile, loans rule their lives: The debt-to-income ratio of Americans born in the 1980s is higher than any other birth group, making them especially vulnerable to financial setbacks. Now that most millennials are in their 30s, a point when many of their parents were able to own homes, they’re squeezed between the worst inflation rates of their lifetimes, eye-watering housing prices and the precarious fallout of the pandemic.” [NYTimes]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

Fig Tree Books has become an imprint of Mandel Vilar Press

Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., announced a $52.1 million pledge from an anonymous donor in support of the Tuck School of Business…

Film and television producer and Vassar College alum Jason Blum donated $10 million to the college for the purposes of financial aid…

Hazon has announced that Risa Alyson Cooper has joined the organization as chief climate officer and Liore Milgrom-Gartner has joined as deputy climate action director; Cooper was the founding executive director of Shoresh, a nature-based Jewish education group in Toronto…   

Composer Monty Norman, who wrote the theme song for the James Bond films, died at 94…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy of Sheila Katz

Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Dana Gershon, Bobbie Pesner, Jared Lang, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, Adene Cytron-Walker, Sheila Katz and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff gathered at the White House on Monday to celebrate the passage of the Safer Communities Act, which aims to reduce gun violence.


Eyal Ben Yaish

News anchor of the Israeli television channels Keshet 12 and Arutz 2, Yonit Levi

Former U.S. ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council, Rita E. Hauser… Former congressman from Oklahoma from 1977 to 1993, Marvin Henry “Mickey” Edwards… Former executive director of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, Dan Botnick… Canadian journalist, social activist and author of three bestselling books, Michele Landsberg… Former member of the Florida House of Representatives, Franklin Sands… Bestselling author, screenwriter and playwright, sister of the late Nora Ephron, Delia Ephron… Professor of religion at the University of Vermont, he was an advisor to Bernie Sanders on his 2016 presidential campaign, as an undergrad at Yale his roommate was Joe Lieberman, Richard Sugarman… Co-founder of Imagine Entertainment, Brian Grazer… Board certified lactation consultant based in Riverdale, N.Y., Rhona Yolkut… Founding executive director (now retired) of Newton, Mass.-based Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, focused on children with special educational needs, Arlene Remz… Co-owner of the Midland Group with holdings in steel, shipping, real estate, agriculture and sports, Eduard Shifrin… Member of the Knesset for the Blue and White party, Alon Tal… Nancy Billin… Chief television critic for The New York TimesJames “Jim” Poniewozik… Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, Jessica Rosenworcel… Israeli journalist and former member of Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Anastassia Michaeli… Founder of Innovation Policy Solutions, Jennifer Leib… U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)… Winner of an Olympic gold medal (Athens, 2004) and a silver medal (Sydney, 2000) as a freestyle swimmer, Scott Daniel Goldblatt… Senior reporter at CNN, Edward-Isaac Dovere… Partner in the Des Moines, Iowa-based public relations firm AdelmanDean Group, Liz Rodgers Adelman… Israeli media personality, sociologist and designer, Ortal Ben Dayan… President of executive communications firm A.H. Levy & Co based in NYC, Alex Halpern Levy… Registered nurse now living in Jerusalem, Rena Meira Rotter… Benjamin Birnbaum…

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