Your Daily Phil: How Good Today trains the generosity muscles of individuals and corporations
Good Friday morning!
Ed. note: In honor of Memorial Day, the next edition of Your Daily Phil will arrive on Tuesday morning. Wishing you all a wonderful extended weekend.
About 23,000 people attended an online rally against antisemitism yesterday hosted by several Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, Hadassah, Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and the Union for Reform Judaism, Elana Broitman, JFNA’s senior vice president for public affairs, told eJewishPhilanthropy. Walter Kim, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York, spoke at the event, in addition to Rabbi Moshe Hauer, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union.
World Mizrachi, a religious Zionist organization, raised almost $6 million over two days to support 21 yeshivas and seminaries attended by “gap year” students between high school and college. About 15,000 donors contributed.
The organization held its first such fundraiser last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused both higher operating costs and more need for financial aid. It raised more than $5 million.
Jewish campus life organization Hillel International announced the 20 members of its 2021-2022 student cabinet, who are from 12 states, Canada and Israel. Rising seniors Jade Gordon, who attends Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and Ben Lefkowitz, who attends Emory University in Atlanta, will serve as co-chairs.
Good Today brings the pushke to corporate social responsibility
Financial services provider Jefferies Group; Shutterstock, an online image provider and horror film maker Blumhouse Productions have at least one thing in common — they are some of the 50 companies raising money on Good Today, a nonprofit donation platform. About 20,000 people, including individuals who sign themselves up, use the platform every day, co-founder Joe Teplow told eJewishPhilanthropy.
A daily practice: Companies join by sponsoring each employee for the same amount every day — a quarter, 50 cents or a dollar. The employees receive a daily email from the platform, which gives them information about a cause or problem, and offers a choice of two organizations that are working in that issue area. The employee selects one of them, which becomes the recipient of that day’s quarter. If the employee has linked their profile to a bank account or credit card, Good Today will also offer them the option to make an additional donation.
Vetting process: “It’s not an expensive program to launch,” said Teplow, who now serves on the board but also still helps run the organization. “It’s frictionless. It’s in the work stream.” A Good Today staff member decides which charities will be featured on the platform; political and religious charities are off-limits. The organization plans its recipients about 20 days in advance, but this past year it also realized the need for a rapid-response team to offer charities that give users a way to address crises such as the recent surge of COVID-19 infections and death in India, or a mass shooting.
Getting stronger: Good Today was born as a newsletter called Good St., which Teplow published as a pre-med undergraduate at Yeshiva University. The model was somewhat similar: Subscribers paid a quarter a day and picked one of two charitable options presented to them. Teplow totaled the amounts and forwarded the money. He was inspired by the idea, attributed to many Jewish thinkers including Maimonides and Lubavicher rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, that it’s better to give frequently in small amounts than only rarely, even if the amounts are bigger. “It’s the idea that generosity is a muscle,” he said. “The more you build that muscle, the more you give. Also, I was a student at the time and I didn’t have much money, so it spoke to me.”
GROWTH AND CHANGE
Mentoring towards growth
“Being a great mentee starts with the premise that with enough reflection and remaining true to ourselves, which is far more easily said than done, we each will be able to locate ourselves in this world. Being a great mentor means serving as the guiding hand that supports a growth-based relationship, based not in fixing problems, but rather in opening up conversations,” write Dr. Michelle Lynn-Sachs and Or Mars, co-coordinators of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program Alumni Mentoring Program, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Message to mentees: “Your mentoring experience will be helpful to you only if you really want to grow. Your mentor may give you pro tips along the way, but it is your job to use your mentor as a catalyst for your own reflection, growth and change.”
Message to mentors: “For a satisfying and successful career, Cindy Chazan (the other co-creator of this mentoring program) recommends to Jewish professionals to ‘swap your to-do list with your to-be list.’ This advice is not only beneficial for your mentee’s growth, but in your growth as a mentor.”
Enduring lessons from the past year
“It is difficult to look back on the past year without expressing truly mixed emotions. On the one hand, the struggles and hardships experienced across the globe during COVID-19 – the first pandemic in a century – have been sobering. On the other, glimmers of light, displays of resilience and kindness, and a redoubling of our collective efforts to love thy neighbor gives us hope for the brighter days that lay ahead,” writes Marc Newburgh, Hillel Ontario’s chief executive officer, in an opinion piece for eJewish Philanthropy.
The COVID year: “Even this year, with in-person operations suspended, students and staff forced online, and the very real challenge posed by Zoom fatigue, the data we have collected shows we continue to have much to be proud of. While a reduction in our organizational ability to fully engage Jewish students during the pandemic was difficult, we remained committed to our mandate and the students we serve.”
Internal Debate: Phil Buchanan shares his concern that rhetoric from the leaders of the Philanthropy Roundtable, a right-leaning philanthropy service organization, isn’t in keeping with the more ecumenical tone sought by the prior CEO, who sought “common ground across the ideological spectrum.” Buchanan criticizes Philanthropy Roundtable CEO Elise Westhoff and Richard Graber, its board chair, of trying to sow division between philanthropists by conflating, without evidence, the pursuit of justice with a subversion of capitalism and the neglect of poor white populations.“So why does the hard right turn of a philanthropy membership organization even matter? It leaves thoughtful, conservative donors and foundations, like the many with whom CEP works as clients of our assessments and funders of our research, with nowhere to turn.” [CEP]
Reversal Of Fortune: A recent $1.6 million grant from the Charles Koch Foundation was a financial lifeline for the struggling philosophy department at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, but some professors are concerned that the foundation is wielding excess influence, reports Nell Gluckman in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The foundation has asserted control over its academic grantees before, as when a committee it chose was empowered to make hiring recommendations at Florida State University, and its agreements with George Mason University enabled it to influence hiring and evaluation of professors. Department chair Michael Weber said he didn’t think Bowling Green was in the same situation, but the tension persists. “I’d certainly much rather have gotten a grant from a less controversial source, but there aren’t many,” Weber said. “Especially for philosophy.” [ChronicleHigherEd]
Financial Bridge: Arts supporters in Los Angeles County have put together the $38.5 million LA Arts Recovery Fund in an effort to give local organizations another cash infusion to get them through to what backers hope will be a more normal environment this fall, Mike Scutari reports in Inside Philanthropy. The J. Paul Getty Trust initiated the fund; the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and Netflix were among those who contributed to the fund, and 90 organizations will benefit from it. “The recovery so far in the U.S. is partial and uneven. Some organizations are now being rewarded with record subscription sales. At the same time, organizations that have effectively hibernated for the past year will find re-engaging with their audiences far more challenging,” said Jill Robinson, CEO of TRG Arts, a research firm. [InsidePhilanthropy]
Embarrassment Of Riches: In New York Magazine, Angelina Chapin interviews Mirella Ceja-Orozco and Elizer Darris, co-executive directors of the Minnesota Freedom Fund, about the volunteer-based bail fund that almost broke under the strain of a $30 million deluge in donations in the days after George Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police. Accustomed to working under the radar and with an annual budget of about $150,000, the fund was grateful for the support and attention, but found that it created serious difficulties — their bank couldn’t handle the amounts coming in, staff started to be doxxed and to receive death threats for being “anti-American” and all the while, their city was being overwhelmed by protests and riots. The organization managed to adapt and to expand its operations, but not before they got slammed for reacting too slowly: “We were a tiny organization dealing with a chaotic situation, which not everyone understood,” Ceja-Orozco said. “People thought we weren’t moving fast enough.” [NYMag]
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Word on the Street
Israel is preparing to lift final COVID-19 restrictions… TheBlaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling at HUC-JIR, will host a conference, “Moral Injury and Soul Repair: A Jewish Perspective,” June 2-3… Israel Museum director Ido Bruno has announced he will be stepping down after four years in the position… The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom has named Tahija Vikalo, a survivor of the war in Sarajevo, as its executive director… A lawsuit accuses Long Island rabbis of retaliating against businesses that do not accept their kosher certification process… Minister of Housing and Construction Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) will be indicted, subject to a hearing
Pic of the Day
Rabbi Irving Elson, head of the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council and Doron Krakow, CEO of the JCC Association of North America, began their observance of Memorial Day by meeting with a serviceman on board the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Nathan Bruckenthal. The cutter is named for the first Jewish Coast Guardsman killed in combat since the Vietnam War, who was killed deflecting a sea-borne explosive device during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Founding rabbi of both Lincoln Square Synagogue in NYC and then later the City of Efrat, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin today…
FRIDAY: Long-time activist in the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater (Virginia), Arnold H. Leon… Director of UCSF’s Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, he won the 1997 Nobel Prize in Medicine, Stanley Benjamin Prusiner M.D…. Former mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani… Executive director of Ner Israel Rabbinical College, Jerome H. Kadden… Mayor of Toronto, his maternal grandmother is said to have been Jewish, John Howard Tory… Winnipeg-born attorney and prior campaign chair for Winnipeg’s Combined Jewish Appeal and governor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Gail Sheryl Asper… U.S. Senator, Marco Rubio (R-FL)… Member of the Knesset since 2009 on behalf of the Likud party, Ofir Akunis… Rabbi at Temple B’nai Sholom in Huntsville, Alabama, Eric Berk… Manager of the Executive Office at The Pew Charitable Trusts, Lauren Mandelker… Singer-songwriter and one half of the band The Moldy Peaches, Adam Green… Entrepreneur and investor, Matthew Pritzker… VP at lobbying firm Kasirer LLC, David A. Lobl… Founder of At The Well, a women’s wellness organization rooted in Jewish spirituality and women’s health, Sarah Michal Waxman… Director of communications at Citizens for a Secure and Safe America, Adelle Malka Nazarian… Freelance journalist, Thea Glassman… Harry Weinstein… Executive Director at JQY, Rachael Fried…
SATURDAY: Former member of the Knesset and later Israel’s ambassador to Japan, Eli Cohen… Actor, singer-songwriter and record producer, Danny Elfman… U.S. Senator, Jerry Moran (R-KS)… Television writer, producer and actor, Mitchell Hurwitz… Economist on the faculty of the University of Chicago, co-author of the best-selling books in the Freakonomics series, Steven Levitt... CEO and executive editor of 70 Faces Media, Amiram “Ami” Eden… Policy analyst at Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Yaakov Feinstein… Founding partner of Blandford Capital, Nathaniel Jerome Meyohas… Fashion designer and the founder of the fashion label Shoshanna, style director for Elizabeth Arden, Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss… Film producer and former corporate lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Edward Frank “Teddy” Schwarzman… Senior political reporter at The Forward, Jacob Kornbluh… Swedish-born pro-Israel activist and commentator, Annika Hernroth-Rothstein… Partner at Cove Lane Partners, Alexander Berger… Jewish liaison for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Jake Adler... Israeli-born baseball player and coach, now working in the Seattle Mariners’ player development program, he coached for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Alon Leichman…
SUNDAY: Santa Monica-based historian of Sephardic and Crypto-Jewish studies, Dolores Sloan… Real estate developer and former chair of UJA-NY, Larry A. Silverstein… Partner in the NYC law firm of Mintz & Gold, Ira Lee “Ike” Sorkin… Board member of the Colliers County chapter of the Florida ACLU and the Naples Florida Council on World Affairs, Maureen McCully “Mo” Winograd… Agent at Creative Artists Agency, Alan Louis Berger… The owner and chef at Los Angeles-based Catering by Brenda, Brenda Walt... Former Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Uriel Bernheim… Encino, California-based business attorney, Andrew W. Hyman… Author and a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and Tablet magazine, Daphne Miriam Merkin… Former member of the U.S. House of Representatives (2001-2017), since leaving Congress he has written two novels, Steve Israel… Science editor for BBC News, David Shukman… Editorial writer at The New York Times, Michelle Cottle… Actress and singer-songwriter, she sang the national anthem at the Super Bowl in 2015, Idina Menzel… Member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Oded Forer… Director of engagement and program at NYC’s Congregation Rodeph Sholom, Scott Hertz… Deputy director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, Reema Dodin… Alina T. Katz… and her husband, renown challah baker and manager of San Francisco’s Howard Properties, Jason Friend… Counsel at Gilead Sciences, Ashley Bender Spirn… Senior advisor for U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Miryam Esther Lipper… Writer for CNN Digital, Eric Levenson… Brandeis University chaplain and executive director of Brandeis Hillel, Rabbi Seth Winberg…
MONDAY: Investment advisor working at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, Alfred Phillip Stern… Industrialist and philanthropist, Ira Leon Rennert… Food critic at Vogue magazine and judge on Iron Chef America, Jeffrey Steingarten… Founder and retired CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council, Al From… Author, political pundit and a correspondent for HBO’s Real Sports, Bernie Goldberg… Comedian, actress and TV producer, Susie Essman… Founder and chairman of the Katz Group of Companies, Daryl Katz… Reality television personality on The Millionaire Matchmaker, Patti Stanger... Jerusalem-born serial entrepreneur, novelist and the founder of CyberArk Software, Alon Nisim Cohen… Co-founder of CryptoLogic, an online casino software firm, and FUN Technologies, Andrew Rivkin… Former Democratic mayor of Annapolis, Maryland (2009-2013), now director of policy at Greenlots, Josh Cohen… Assistant director of community outreach at the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, Melissa York… Israeli actress, singer and dancer, she played a Mossad agent in the espionage TV series Tehran, Liraz Charhi… Author of the Money Stuff column at Bloomberg Opinion, Matthew S. Levine… Freelance writer in Brooklyn, Sara Trappler Spielman… Attorney and NYT-bestselling author of the Mara Dyer Trilogy, Michelle Hodkin… Head of corporate and regulatory affairs at Zoox, Bert Eli Kaufman… Program director at public mobility firm Via, Zoe Goldfarb… Head of corporate and brand partnerships at Politico, Brad E. Bosserman… Rabbi at Sixth & I, Aaron Potek… NYC-based politics editor for BuzzFeed News, Matt Berman… Amital Isaac…
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