Your Daily Phil: Slingshot revamps application process + One federation’s effort to build LGBTQ giving circles

Good Wednesday morning!

Slingshot, a service organization for young philanthropists, has changed the application process for its “10 to Watch” program in the hope of attracting a more diverse applicant pool, Rachel Hodes, Slingshot’s chief program officer, told eJewishPhilanthropy.

Under the new procedure, Slingshot will require applicants to submit a written description of their work and a financial document, but will encourage them to repurpose existing material such as grant proposals, reports and budgets. The annual “10 to Watch” list brings effective new organizations and projects — most of which are small, volunteer organizations — to funders’ attention.

“We’re taking the burden off them and putting more of it on us — the evaluators and the selection committee,” Hodes said. The previous five-page form requested references and asked 14 questions, such as “In what ways do you go ‘above and beyond’ to deliver a high-quality user experience?” and “How are you seeking to succeed where others have fallen short?” There are still eligibility criteria: The groups must be between one and five years old, serve a North American audience and can’t be focused on fundraising.

Slingshot’s move comes amid widespread discussion in the philanthropic world about the ways in which onerous procedures and forms can undermine organizations’ diversity commitments by creating a barrier for new applicants. “A grant application takes a long time, and this was similar to a grant application,” Hodes said.

Ripple effect

San Francisco’s Jewish Community Federation is building a network of LGBTQ giving circles


According to the global directory of giving circles, there are nearly 2,500 of the small philanthropic communities worldwide. Now, the San Francisco-area Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund and The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) have formed a partnership that aims to increase that number by following the example of the Jewish Pride Fund, an LGBTQ giving circle that operates under the federation’s auspices, Danielle Meshorer, the federation’s director of collaborative philanthropy, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff.

New attention, old idea: “We’re going to offer ‘QuickStart’ training to foster a network of these circles dedicated to the Jewish LGBTQ community,” Meshorer said. “We’ll tell people how to get their giving circle started and how to recruit members. We’ll offer them coaching.” About 20 people have signed up for a session on how to start a giving circle on Nov. 9. Some have already decided to start their own, while others want to learn more before making that commitment. Giving circles are groups of people who pool their assets and make a collective decision as to who should receive them. The mechanism is enjoying a moment, but the idea isn’t new. The landsmannschaften formed by Eastern European Jewish immigrants to America served this purpose. In West Africa, they’re called susu, and in Mexico, tanda

Enter Amplifier: In the United States, giving circles have proliferated in recent years, culminating in the spring of 2020 in the formation of Philanthropy Together, whose mission is to help encourage the development of giving circle networks, and which administers the directory. Amplifier, JFNA’s philanthropic innovation group, helped develop Philanthropy Together and still focuses much of its work on helping individual federations develop giving circles. Meshorer was hired to help launch the Jewish Pride Fund, which started with 10 members and will likely have at least twice that number for its fourth grant cycle, which starts in December, she said. During the time the Jewish Pride Fund was taking root and starting to grow, Amplifier joined JFNA and began advising federations about how to nurture a culture of philanthropy. 

A model giving circle: Several federations told Amplifier that they wanted to better engage their local LGBTQ communities, so Amplifier looked to the Jewish Pride Fund for a model, Sasha Raskin-Yin, Amplifier’s program director, said. Building a course around an existing group is a new way of working for Amplifier, she added: “We have not yet said, ‘Here is a specific giving circle that you can use as a blueprint to connect with your communities.’” Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic was causing members of the Jewish Pride Fund to relocate from San Francisco, prompting Meshorer and the fund’s leaders to reflect that the pandemic-related exodus was a chance to replicate their success. “We had a vision of building the field of LGBTQ giving circles nationally,” Meshorer said.

Read the full article here.


The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Jewish community


“More than a year ago, the Jewish community was contemplating how to celebrate Passover without gathering with friends and family. A modern plague, COVID-19, had emerged and upended life as we knew it. We were transfixed by images of hospital ERs and ICUs overwhelmed by patients unable to breathe. Even those lucky enough not to be infected by COVID-19 were coping with a complete upheaval of their personal and Jewish lives,” write Leonard Saxe and Janet Krasner Aronson of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Early concerns: “Jewish communal organizations were unsure of how to respond. Despite having the advantage of eager donors with substantial resources ready to offer their support, it was not known what the most pressing needs would be. The immediate concerns were with widespread job loss, poverty and isolation, especially among the elderly who lacked access to the technology that became the lifeline for many. At the same time, some saw opportunities to increase participation in Jewish life through the use of technology, as online and virtual seders, religious services, Jewish programs and lifecycle events might provide entry points to new constituencies for Jewish involvement.”

Social epidemiology: “As social scientists, we mobilized to provide the Jewish community with timely information about the health, economic, social, emotional and spiritual toll of the pandemic on U.S. Jews. Our ‘social epidemiology’ approach aimed to provide Jewish organizations with a holistic understanding of the most effective ways to serve their communities.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Roar Of The Crowd: In Inside Philanthropy, Ade Adeniji interviews Joanne Pasternack, co-founder of Athletes’ Voices, an agency that helps athletes expand their influence and social impact, and a leader of philanthropic efforts in both the NBA and the NFL. Pasternack launched Athletes’ Voices because in the social media era, athletes were expected to provide quick comment on various hot-button issues — and if they didn’t, that in itself was seen as a statement. “What we’re trying to do is work with individual athletes, and with teams and leagues, to identify the causes that are best aligned with their values,” Pasternack said. “We want them to be able to say, ‘This is why I’m committed to this cause, and this is what I hope to do with my voice.’” [InsidePhilanthropy]

Working It Out: According to conventional wisdom, exercise has mental health benefits, but it’s less well-known that physical activity isn’t a panacea, reports Hilary Achauer in a Washington Post article about a new crop of “mental health gyms” that offer such amenities as meditation and mindfulness classes, journaling sessions and conversation — both online and in-person — on a per-class or membership basis. Emily Anhalt, a psychologist who founded one of these new “gyms,” created a curriculum around the seven traits of emotional fitness: self-awareness, empathy, curiosity, mindfulness, playfulness, resilience and communication. “It’s not about whack-a-mole-ing symptoms and just trying to get something broken to be fixed,” Anhalt said. [WashPost]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

Longtime communal activist, former chair of Chicago’s Jewish United Fund and former chair of United Israel Appeal, Richard Wexlerdied yesterday at 80… Birthright Israel Foundation elected Philip de Toledo as the organization’s next board chair… The iconic “class photo” featuring thousands of Chabad emissaries attending the upcoming Kinus Hashluchim will not take place due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19… Barbra Streisand will fund a “forward-looking” institute at UCLA, focused on solving societal challenges… The American Cancer Society received its largest-ever contribution of cryptocurrency, $250,000, from Christian Linge of SafeBreast communities from Oslo, Norway… Bloomberg Philanthropies and the International Solar Alliance are partneringin an effort to mobilize $1 trillion in global investments over the current decade in support of solar energy across ISA-member countries… The David Prize, an annual $1 million award for New York City residents, announced its five winners for this year’s awards…

Pic of the Day

OTS Darkaynu

Twenty teens and young adults from the U.S., Canada and England arrived in Israel this week to participate in Ohr Torah Stone’s network Darkaynu program, designed to allow students with special needs to enjoy the “year in Israel” experience.


HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – JULY 11: Alona Tal attends the Los Angeles Special Screening of “SKIN” at ArcLight Hollywood on July 11, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for A24)

Israeli-born actress, she is a recurring character on CBS’s “Seal Team,” Alona Tal… 
Economist who earned the nickname “Dr. Doom” during his tenure as the chief economist at Salomon Brothers during the 1970s, Henry Kaufman …. Poet, essayist and literary critic, Robert Pinsky… Professor at Ben-Gurion University, she is the daughter of former Prime Minister and President Shimon Peres, Tsvia Walden… One of two grand rebbes of Satmar, Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum… Former CEO of the American Technion Society, Melvyn “Mel” Bloom… Miami Beach-based real estate developer, Russell W. Galbut… Actress and director of film and television, Melanie Mayron… Composer for many films, winner of six Grammys and an Emmy Award, Thomas Newman… Former longtime House Budget Committee staff director, now an adjunct professorial lecturer at American University, Tom Kahn… U.S. senator (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse… Managing director and partner at Beacon Pointe Advisors, Jordan Heller… Rabbi of the Ramban Synagogue in Jerusalem’s Katamon area and a leading figure at the Israel Democracy Institute, Rabbi Binyamin “Benny” Lau… Russian TV and radio journalist, Vladimir Solovyov… Vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris… U.S. senator (D-Hawaii), Brian Schatz… Classical violinist and a 2008 winner of a MacArthur “genius” fellowship, Leila Josefowicz… Film and television writer, David Caspe… Long Island regional director at AJC Global, Eric Post… Boston-based regional progressive outreach director at AIPAC, Michael Clark… Associate in the New York City office of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Evan G. Zuckerman… Precocious twins from Ranana, Avi and Rafi Granoff…
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