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Friday, March 30, 2012
D'Var Torah

Lee I. Sherman


This week, I have had the pleasure to visit our member JFS Seattle and to participate in meetings with board and staff, and on the special occasion of their dedication of a brand new building. Sensitive to environmental issues and aesthetics, the building is overwhelmingly about the people who will occupy it, certainly staff and volunteers, but, most importantly, the clients who come there for service. The physical space is a reflection of the dignity with which all of our agencies treat their clients. As I joined with CEO Ken Weinberg and Board President Emily Alhadeff and the rest of the board to hang the mezuzah on the building's outer door, I couldn't help but think about the how long tradition of service to the community by JFS Seattle, all of our member agencies, and generations of the Jewish people, was reflected in that spiritual icon.


A whole range of Jewish values are contained in the meaning of that mezuzah of the JFS door, but I think that the following excerpt from AJFCA's just published The AJFCA Network: Bringing Jewish Values to Life, perhaps, exemplifies this best:


Through Jewish family service agencies, the Jewish community fulfills our obligations of tzedakah and tikkun olam. 

The Jewish concept of tzedakah, often translated as charity, but more precisely defined as justice, forms an obligation for the Jewish community to act to create justice in the world.  This is not seen as a mere good deed, but instead as a necessity, something that must be done because it is the right thing to do.  All Jews are required to work toward tikkun olam, perfecting the world, setting it right, whole, and the way it should be.  Such a strong obligation that applies to the entire community demands a collective response.  Jewish family service agencies serve as the collective response of the Jewish community to work toward justice and a whole and perfect world, and the vehicles through which each of us can meet our obligations.


The work done by our agencies is difficult. But, the commitment of each of you to face the challenge, to treat all of those around you with dignity, to continue to perfect the world, ensures our success as a people, as a community.


Have a meaningful Shabbat.

2012 AC combined logo-3.6.12

AJFCA's 40th Annual Conference

AJFCA's 2012 Annual Conference Program  is available. Registration will close on April 6th. All unpaid registrations (credit card payments and checks) are due on April 6th as well. Please contact Barbara Tapper for details. Don't forget to check the AJFCA website regarding travel, hotel, special events and guest speakers.     


The TrailBlazer Award winners are:  

Professional TrailBlazer - Beth Joseph - Director of Communications & Donor Relations - Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties, NJ
Volunteer TrailBlazer - Barbara Sterensis - Board Chair - Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, FL

Congratulations! Both Beth and Barbara will receive complimentary registrations to AJFCA's 2013 Annual Conference, in addition to an award.     

AJFCA Calls on Member Agencies to Partner with Yad Vashem on the Historic Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project

Join the ranks of Yad Vashem's worldwide network of Jewish communities and volunteers working in one-on-one outreach efforts with Holocaust survivors and members of their generation to recover and commemorate the names of Shoah victims before they are lost forever. Several JFS agencies have already successfully augmented their Holocaust Survivor Services with this meaningful program by assisting survivors to fill out Pages of Testimony and honor the memory of those they knew who were murdered in the Holocaust.


Over four million names and short biographies of Jews murdered in the Holocaust are recorded in Yad Vashem's  Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names. The names of millions of victims remain unknown, and time is running out. We need your help to complete this historic task! Submit a Page of Testimony for each victim today.

shoah names project 


SEARCH the Database for victims you know of and check into your own personal family history

 SUBMIT additional (unrecorded) names by filling out a Page of Testimony for each victim online.


DOWNLOAD Pages of Testimony and fill one out for each victim.

SEND your completed Pages of Testimony directly to:  

Cynthia Wroclawski

c/o Yad Vashem, Names Project

POB 3477

Jerusalem 91034 Israel


READ the stories of family connections and reunions thanks to the Names Database.  


Contact names.outreach@yadvashem.org.il for more information.

6 Habits of True Strategic Thinkers
6 Habits of True Strategic Thinkers, March 20, 2012, Inc. (LinkedIn), by Paul J. H. Schoemaker

You're the boss, but you still spend too much time on the day-to-day. Here's how to become the strategic leader your organization needs.

linkedin logo

If you find yourself resisting "being strategic," because it sounds like a fast track to irrelevance, or vaguely like an excuse to slack off, you're not alone. Every leader's temptation is to deal with what's directly in front, because it always seems more urgent and concrete. Unfortunately, if you do that, you put your organization at risk. While you concentrate on steering around potholes, you'll miss windfall opportunities, not to mention any signals that the road you're on is leading off a cliff.


This is a tough job, make no mistake. "We need strategic leaders!" is a pretty constant refrain at every agency, large and small. One reason the job is so tough: no one really understands what it entails. It's hard to be a strategic leader if you don't know what strategic leaders are supposed to do.


Adaptive strategic leaders - the kind who thrive in today's uncertain environment - do six things well:

  • Anticipate Inc magazine logo
  • Think Critically
  • Interpret
  • Decide 
  • Align
  • Learn

Obviously, this is a daunting list of tasks, and frankly, no one is born a black belt in all these different skills. But they can be taught and whatever gaps exist in your skill set can be filled in. Read the entire article to learn more about the six things strategic leaders do well.

The Challenge of Recruiting and Training Volunteer Solicitors
The Challenge of Recruiting and Training Volunteer Solicitors, March 21, 2012, eJP, by Stephen G. Donshik 
Nonprofit organizations thrive when their fundraising campaigns are made up of knowledgeable, skillful, personable and enthusiastic volunteer solicitors. Of course the real challenge is developing a cadre of such volunteers who know how to best represent the agency and can approach potential contributors for support during the course of the year. Organizations that have their financial resource development (FRD) process usually have professional fundraisers working with them. However, the presence of a professional does not take the place of committed volunteers who are involved in soliciting people in the community.

ejp full logo 

Yes, it is true that there are some people who are "natural fundraisers" and they have the ability to engage with potential contributors and contributors. They understand the meaning of "engaging" someone in a conversation that is focused on the other person's interests. During the course of the exchange, the skillful solicitor makes a connection between what is important to the contributor and the mission, purpose and services of the nonprofit organization.


Read the entire article to learn about the challenges organizations face when recruiting and training new people who will become an effective cadre of volunteer solicitors.

Real Innovation in Social Change Lies in Reinvention

"Innovation" has become such a buzzword lately, particularly among people working on social change. But let's take a step back and talk about what the word could really mean. Innovation is more than just new ideas. It means taking a completely new approach to how we finance, structure, and prove social change.

 chronicle philanthropy

The nonprofit world has never lacked new ideas to address problems. In fact, you could argue that nonprofits are innately entrepreneurial, being borne out of a recognized market failing and a new idea to remedy it.


The need, then, is not more new ideas. Rather, true innovation lies in reinventing a field built on social change. Here are some ways that is starting to happen:

  • New support mechanisms.
  • A converging economy.
  • Proof of social change.

Although these innovations are encouraging, there is room for so much more. What if:

  • The best and the brightest of Generation Y worked to remake existing organizations from the inside out instead of just starting their own social-change groups?
  • The social-capital market that's emerging to provide financial vehicles for budding social businesses also included support for social entrepreneurs in the nonprofit world?
  • Venture-philanthropy funds (growth capital for nonprofits) shared investor prospects with social-venture funds (growth capital for social businesses) and vice versa?
  • All nonprofits interested in growth and with a proven model for success had access to enough capital and management expertise to expand?
  • A nonprofit that solves social problems received as many resources and as much respect and attention as a business that solves a consumer need?

These things require sweeping, fundamental changes to the current structures of the nonprofit, government, and private sectors. That's real innovation. Read more about some ways that social change is starting to happen in Real Innovation in Social Change Lies in Reinvention.     


ajfca logo-resizedCheck out Nell's sessions at AJFCA's 40th Annual Conference:  

Engaging Your Board in Fundraising; and  

Financing Not Fundraising  

The State of the Nonprofit Cloud  

Idealware and The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) recently released a 35-page report called The State of the Nonprofit Cloud:The Results of a Study of Nonprofit Use of Cloud Software. The report includes a data-rich look at perceptions of NTENcloud-based software and addresses everything from security to adoption, offering a view of cloud usage in the real world through case studies of a number of nonprofits. The entire report is free-download it now

2012 Jewish Organization Equality Index - Survey Deadline Extended JOEI logo

AJFCA has partnered with the  Human Rights Campaign Foundation to promote their important initiative:  The 2012 Jewish Organization Equality Index (JOEI). ApprHRC logooximately 200 organizations have logged into the survey since its launch last fall, including AJFCA and some of our member agencies.


The 2012 Jewish Organization Equality Index was created in the pursuit of education, dialogue and continual improvement. The more organizations that partake, the more we will be able to learn from one another. This is an opportunity for all of us to take an impartial inventory of our internal policies and practices in line with the Jewish traditions of b'tzelem elohim, derech eretz and tikkun olam.  


If you would like to complete the survey please click on this link:  http://www.hrc.org/joei/pages/request-joei-survey-login prior to the April 6th deadline. If you would like to learn more, you can visit JOEI's website at www.hrc.org/joei or email questions to JewishEquality@hrc.org

Dead or Alive? What Do Your Board's Vital Signs Tell You?  Dead or alive? What do your board's vital signs tell you?, March 20, 2012, Board Source 
When was the last time your board members had a checkup? No, we're not talking about strapping on blood pressure cuffs! We're talking about completing an online survey to assess the state of your board's health, to monitor its vital signs in its areas of responsibility.  


While most boards don't assess their performance annually, the HeathPoint board in Renton, Washington, can't imagine doing it less frequently. It has institutionalized the practice of assessing the board's performance in conjunction with assessing the chief executive's performance. It believes that one assessment informs the other, and when the results are reviewed back to back, they enable the board to identify and prioritize those issues most in need of attention. The results serve as springboards for board and chief executive improvement or set the stage for strategic planning.  

 board source

Learn more now. 

6 Tax-Tncoa logoime Tips for Seniors

April 17th-this year's tax deadline-is right around the corner. How can you and the older adults in your life save as much as possible? Here are 6 tips to consider.

1. See if there
's a tax relief program that can help you. Use BenefitsCheckUp.
2. Get free tax assistance from the IRS. Find out more from the IRS.
3. Protect yourself from tax scams. Learn about scams  and how to protect yourself.
4. Explore how to use and protect your home equity.  Visit Home Equity Advisor.
5. Review this year's changes in the tax law.  See what's new.
6. Save your tax refund.  Learn about savings bonds.

Find more tax tips for seniors here.

Why Nonprofits Should Love Pinterest

Why I Love Pinterest and Nonprofits Should Too, March 21, 2012, Social Velocity, by Nell Edgington 

Pinterest holds an enormous opportunity for nonprofits. Pinterest is a social media network based on images. If you find a recipe, a blog post, a pair of pants, a livingroom set, you can "pin" it to a board and share it with your followers. Similarly, if you see something someone else has "pinned" you can "repin" it to your board. Picture an enormous blank wall with individual bulletin boards organized by your interests.


Nell Edgington has 12 "boards". Some are not work-related like "Home" and "Healthy Recipes." But the rest are directly related to Social Velocity and her passion for social innovation and the nonprofit sector, like "Nonprofit/Social Change Books," "Nonprofit Campaigns," "Cool Infographics," and "Nonprofit Media." That last board is actually a shared board among 40+ people and organizations where all can add to and edit the board.


There have been many articles about the potential of Pinterest for companies. People can pin images of particular products and encourage their friends and followers to purchase. Pinterest is a particularly powerful opportunity for nonprofits for several reasons:

  • Nonprofits are naturally image-based.
  • Nonprofits easily connect to passionpinterest
  • Female donors are a large and growing force.
  • Nonprofits are all about good story-telling.

If you want a quick guide to getting started on Pinterest, check out this great HubSpot post, although it's focused on businesses, it definitely applies to nonprofits.


Read Nell's blog here to learn more about the reason's she feels Pinterest in a particularly powerful tool for nonprofits.

Save MORE Money for your Jewish Family & Children's Services Agency  

You are invited to attend a webinar on how to Save MORE Money for your Jewish Family & Children's Services Agency. This webinar is designed for CEOs, Executive Directors, HR Directors, and CFOs in AJFCA's network.


At this webinar you will learn:

  • Why nonprofit employers are paying more for their unemployment taxes--and what it costs you.
  • Understanding the legal option for nonprofits to leave the unemployment tax system and just reimburse  the state for claims.              
  • How your nonprofit can potentially save thousands of dollars annually with this reimbursing option.
  • Learn about the advantages and disadvantages and whether it's right for your nonprofit. (Best for nonprofits with over $1 million in payroll.)    
  • How 501(c) Agencies Trust helps AJFCA member agencies reimburse, safely and securely, with services to reduce your costs.

501c for newsletterSave MORE Money for your Jewish Family & Children's Services Agency

Wednesday, April 4th, 1:00pm ET

Monday, April 30th, 12:00pm ET

Wednesday, May 2nd, 12:00pm ET



Please contact Heidi Posada, 800-442-4867 x142 with questions.

Please Help Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit win $250,000!  

project build 

Thank you to everyone who helped Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit's Project Build! win $25,000 in January 2012 in The Home Depot Foun-jfs detroitdation's Aprons in Action Facebook contest. As a result of that win, JFS Detroit is now in the championship round and needs your help throughout March to bring home the grand prize of $250,000.  


Project Build! provides essential home repairs and modifications for people who have low-incomes and/or physical challenges. Because we need you to vote every day in March, we want to make it easy by signing you up for a daily email reminder (you do need a Facebook account to vote). Just click here to visit the voting page. Here's the link to the voting page. Thanks for your help and stay tuned for more details as the competition continues.


Jewish Family Service of Metrowest, MA recently received a $30,000 grant from the anonymous Boston-based foundation to support a program to close education achievement gaps at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Framingham.

jfs metrowest, ma 

"This is your urban poverty elementary school in suburbia," said JFS CEO Marc Jacobs. "When you think about the gigantic achievement gaps that are there for children in the commonwealth, you usually think about Lawrence and Lowell and Mission Hill and the like, but it's also right here in Framingham." 


Health Care Conference Calls

The Health and Human Services Partnership Center continues to host a series of interactive conference calls discussing the benefits and provisions of the health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act.

hhs logo 

All calls are open to the public and include a question and answer session where you can ask HHS staff any questions you may have about the health care reform law. You are also encouraged you to submit questions you would like to have answered on the calls to  ACA101@hhs.gov.


To participate in one of the conference calls, please select your preferred date from the list below and submit the necessary information. Call-in information and Power Point slides will be made available 24 hours in advance.


PowerPoint slides for the Health Care Law 101 calls can be found by clicking here.


Tour of HealthCare.gov

Thursday, April 5th, 12:30pm ET 



Tour of www.healthcare.gov 

Tuesday, April 17th, 2:00pm ET 



Health Care Law and Health Care Disparities (in Spanish)

Tuesday, April 24th, 2:00pm ET



Nonprofit Sustainability: Understanding and Changing Your Business Model in 90 Minutes

Too often program goals are discussed separately from financial means, although we all know that both must be discussed together. Jan Masaoka and Steve Zimmerman will present the methodology for doing so from the book they recently co-authored (with Jeanne Bell): Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability. This free webinar will present a fresh look at choosing the mix of programs, earned income, and donations that will be sustainable for your organization.


Nonprofit Sustainability: Understanding and Changing Your Business Model in 90 Minutes

Wednesday, May 3rd, 11:00am PT


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