Lee I. Sherman
The U.S. presidential election is preparing to heat up as we enter the summer months. There has already been much publicity on candidates' views on social and personal choice issues. Undoubtedly, foreign policy discussions will receive much attention as well. But, I keep thinking that the old Clinton adage of "it's the economy, stupid," will be the decisive factor in 2012. I expect to hear candidates from presidential to congressional ask the electorate whether they are "better off" today than they were four years ago and to vote accordingly. Torah would tell us that this is the wrong question.
In the opening parashah of this week's double parashot, B'har-B'hakotai, we read a valuable lesson in economic justice. When someone who is close to us is in financial difficulty, we are instructed to bring him even closer, and to ease his burden by not exacting advance payment or accrued interest. It is our personal responsibility to help this individual maintain his status as a productive member of society. We are told to "let him live by your side," so he is not isolated and alone, but can remain a part of the community. By assisting this person who has suffered financially, we are not only helping him, but strengthening the community so we all do not lose a vital member.
So, perhaps a better question is "what are we as individuals and as a community doing to help those who have or are in danger of falling into poverty?" If we are following the lessons of Torah in that regard, then maybe we can also say we are "better off" as a reflection of a stronger community.
|2012 AJFCA Post Annual Conference Update
Thank you for completing the 2012 Post Annual Conference Evaluation Survey. The results were impressive and AJFCA is thrilled to share the feedback with you.
- 99% of those surveyed rated the overall conference excellent or good
- 100% satisfaction with workshop presenters
"David DeLong was outstanding, as was the Rick Aranson/Brenda Fiske session. Gary Miller/Seth Cohen session on Board Diversity was compelling too. And Paul Levine's session with FEGS on Health Care Reform was very thorough."
"Erin from HIAS did a great job. Will from Repair the World was informative and inspiring. Roundtables allowed us to hear from many people in a short period of time."
"Kevin Trapani, Redwoods Group-I loved his passion, ability to get the message across, clear communication, and a different way to look at what and how we do things."
"Deanna from Chicago gave a very good workshop, probably the best of the ones I attended. She was enthusiastic and offered very helpful and unique information that I've never seen before and in an important area for marketing fools."
- 98% relevance of workshop topics to the work of the attendees
"Staff management/recruitment, board/agency diversity were wonderful. It helped to hear other CEOs speak about the challenges they face-validated hings for me. Great opportunity to share best practices. Made nice contacts."
"National Health Reform-on all our minds. Lots of good ideas-good to hear from the people who are big enough to affect outcomes in their region and who understand all the issues so well. "
"The opening plenary was inspiring. The closing plenary was thought provoking regarding communications and networking. Innovative Models of Young Leadership, Jewish and Multi-Cultural Diversity, and Programs to the Non-Jewish Community were informative and interesting. Engaging Your Board in Fundraising and Top Five Issues Facing Agency Boards were useful and included good discussions."
"I was focused on the Repair the World initiative, but I also found inspiration from the speakers at the breakfast sessions, and also at the round table on LGBTQ inclusion. That's very important to all our agencies, and it's important that we become as educated as possible about inclusion and equality."
AJFCA/Repair the World Volunteer Initiative
At the 2012 AJFCA Annual Conference in Houston, AJFCA launched the AJFCA/Repair the World Volunteer Initiative by bringing together a cohort of 18 volunteer coordinators to participate in a special volunteer track.
We now invite all volunteer managers to connect with Jennie Gates Beckman, Manager of Civic Engagement & Repair the World Programming to ensure that your agency is included in this exciting initiative. Please contact Jennie directly at 410-843-7449 to be added to the email list.
AJFCA will be presenting more opportunities throughout the year for your agency to connect with this initiative aimed at elevating the role and impact of volunteering at your agency and increasing the engagement of young adults with the work of your agency. One such opportunity is available by participating in a national study of Jewish institutions, conducted by our partner, Repair the World. To learn more about the survey and how your agency might be eligible to win a $3,000 grant toward volunteer development click here. Please complete the survey by Friday, June 29, 2012.
Joseph S. Kaplan Memorial Scholarship Award Winner - Thank You Letter
Margaret McWilliams, Social Worker at Jewish Family Services of Durham-Chapel Hill in North Carolina was the 2012 recipient of the Joseph S. Kaplan Memorial Scholarship Award. After the conclusion of the annual conference Margaret shared a warm and complimentary letter with AJFCA expressing her appreciation.
Margaret writes: "Ultimately when I reflect upon the AJFCA conference, I think Seth Cohen's phrase captures it nicely, 'There are no such things as strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.' From Havdalah receptions and kosher BBQ/line dancing to conference business and meals with new colleagues, the spirit of community pervaded this gathering. I think it is this kind of connection that fosters visionary leadership, creative strategy, and ultimately excellence in professional practice." Click here to read Margaret's entire letter.
JWI Releases Shavuot Study Guides
Jewish Women International is releasing the second in a series of study guides related to women, relationships, and Jewish texts, designed to spark new conversations by offering a fresh look at old texts in time for Shavuot.
Rethinking Shavuot is designed thematically to highlight the centrality of three ways to journey toward safety and well-being: living in a community, doing incremental acts of kindness and envisioning a different future. It combines text from the biblical story of Ruth, the heroine of this holiday, with traditional and contemporary commentaries and prompts for conversations.
The guide is designed for use in both formal and informal settings including synagogues, study groups, book clubs, or simply, a group of friends. Please download the guide from the JWI website and share it with friends and colleagues.
A List of Names is Not Enough
A List of Names is Not Enough, May 9, 2012, eJP, by Stephen G. Donshik
Recently, Stephen Donshik, lecturer at Hebrew University's International Nonprofit Management and Leadership Program, had a discussion with the Financial Resource Development (FRD) professional responsible for fundraising for an organization that provides special programming for autistic children. The professional was bemoaning the fact that he cannot get the directors of the centers run by the organization to provide him with a list of past and present clients so that he can solicit them for contributions.
A red light went off in Donshik's head when he was told about this frustration in dealing with the center directors. Donshik immediately thought of several very important issues and possible dilemmas raised by this scenario. Although the professional's request appears to be quite simple, it is actually very complicated and elicits a number of ethical and professional issues.
Read the entire article to learn more about the issues that accompany requesting a list.
|ROI Community Gets Set to Rock and Roll in Jerusalem |
The ROI Community of Jewish innovators will gather 150 dynamic young Jews from across the globe for its annual five-day ROI Summit in Jerusalem, including first-timers from Bolivia, Iceland, Peru and Uganda. This gathering provides these future Jewish leaders with tools, support and the space they need to turn their ideas into innovative work that will change the face of Jewish life.
One hundred twenty new members were carefully selected from over 500 applicants, and hail from 26 countries. The newest ROIers represent a diverse cohort - in age, gender, geographic location, community involvement and area of expertise.
According to Lynn Schusterman, ROI Community's visionary founder, "The number and the quality of the applications we received for the 2012 ROI Summit were impressive and inspiring. I see great potential in these young Jewish activists, and the hundreds of others like them throughout the world, who are committing their time and extraordinary talent to help secure a relevant, meaningful and vibrant future for the Jewish people."
Learn more about ROI and the 2012 Summit here.
2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study Highlights Online Advocacy, Fundraising, and Social Media Metrics
The 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study was recently released and is packed with insightful data on advocacy and fundraising response rates across the nonprofit sector. In particular it is exciting to see advocacy response rates increased 28% between 2010 and 2011. The study also has some great data on how nonprofits are expanding their use of social media and mobile. For example, the median growth rate for nonprofit fan pages was an impressive 70%.
Email Open Rates:
- Advocacy messages had the highest open rates, click-through rates and response rates - as well as the lowest unsubscribe rates, similar to AJFCA's legislative updates.
- Overall, email open rates held steady between 2010 and 2011. This is an important trend to note because over the past few years, the open rates were declining. Considering that list size has increased, and that older names will often grow stale, a year-over-year rate that remains steady is quite positive. AJFCA's open rates continue to climb.
- In 2011, the median email open rate was 14%. In 2011 the AJFCA median email open rate was 25%.
Enewsletters: Newsletter received on average a 13% open rate, a 1.6% click-thru rate, and a 0.17% unsubscribe rate. Again, AJFCA's open rates and click thru rates have a much higher average, as well as a much lower unsubscribe rate.
Email List Size: Nonprofits online lists grew on average by 16%. AJFCA's list continues to grow by almost 10% every two months.
Churn Rates: Churn refers to the rate at which people unsubscribe, opt-out, or otherwise leave your lists and are an important metric to pay attention to. The average list churn rate is 19%.
Learn more data regarding email click-thru rates, online fundraising, average message sent per month per subscriber, social media and mobile by reading Kapin's entire blog.
|Speeding Up Your Nonprofit's Web Site
If your organization's Web site isn't up to speed, you could be losing donors and other supporters. But a free online tool, Google's Page Speed, can help offer a quick analysis of the code on your site to determine whether it is loading as quickly as it can and offers recommendations for changes that can add zip to a sluggish site.
Those recommendations also come with a Page Speed score designed to show how much a site can improve. The score doesn't measure the actual time it takes for a site to load on a computer screen, because that is influenced by the size of a page in bytes, server hardware, and other factors. But it does help gauge whether a site is performing as well as it can.
Read more about web site efficiency here in the remainder of the article.
|If You Say You're Innovative, You're Probably Not
If You Say You're Innovative, You're Probably Not, May 3, 2012, Foundation Center-Philantopic, by Derrick Feldman
One of the best parts of Derrick Feldman's job, beyond working with some great clients, is traveling to speak about the latest trends in fundraising and millennial engagement. After most presentations, individuals will come up to personally ask him for advice. Feldman, CEO of Achieve, an Indianapolis-based consulting firm that works with nonprofits, loves this one-on-one time with folks willing to wait in line just to get one burning question answered.
Many of these conversations start with an all too familiar opening: "My organization is innovative because..." Usually, the individual will go on to describe why the services offered by his or her organization are unique and unlike other nonprofits'. Indeed, this claim of innovation is becoming more and more common.
Unfortunately, while some nonprofits truly do have unique program models and service delivery approaches, most do not. So maybe it's time we had a discussion about what truly makes an organization innovative. When Feldman looks at innovative nonprofits, several traits come to mind:
- They find creative solutions.
- They are not afraid to fail.
- They know when to pivot.
At the end of the day, innovation is more about people letting their networks know about an innovative organization they've discovered, rather than about an organization endlessly promoting itself as innovative. If your nonprofit is truly innovative, it doesn't need to tell the world. Its actions speak for themselves, and we'll know it's innovative because we haven't seen anything else like it.
Read more about the traits that set innovative nonprofits apart from all the rest here.
3 Ways to Inspire Action at Your Next Big Event
3 Ways to Inspire Action at Your Next Big Event, May 3, 2012, Network for Good
Spring event season is in full swing! Whether you're hosting a golf tournament, gala or auction, it's important to plan how you will bring your mission to life - and inspire action - during your event. Here are a few tried and true ideas:
- Live testimonial: Who has your organization touched? What lives have you changed? Invite that person to share a personal story about how their lives have improved because of your organization - this is your most powerful spokesperson.
- An inside look: Ask your executive director or someone on your board to share what changes previous supporters have made possible and how your current work will impact the community. Let attendees know that they are a key part of this change.
- An invitation to do more: Don't forget to give attendees the opportunity to take action. Invite supporters to join your volunteer team. Ask attendees to share their email addresses on a sign-up sheet so they can receive updates on your work and upcoming events. Your supporters will be inspired and ready to do more, so don't forget to turn that motivation into action at your event!
Want more great advice for hosting a successful fundraising event? Download Network for Good's free eBook here.
|10 Great Social Innovation Reads: April 2012
10 Great Social Innovation Reads: April 2012, May 8, 2012, Social Velocity, by Nell Edgington
The month of April in social innovation was all about change. From a changing landscape between nonprofits and public policy, to new nonprofit sector trends, to how foundations and boards need to restructure in response to changing environments. And that's why social innovation is so interesting- it is a work in progress.
Click here to learn view Nell Edgington's, President of Social Velocity, ten picks of the best reads in social innovation in April.
|Plan an event for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), recognized by the United Nations. Use the National Council On Agings' resources to plan an event in your community. You can host a screening and discussion of An Age for Justice, a 16-minute video produced by NCOA and WITNESS. Or use NCOA'a Savvy Saving Seniors training guide to conduct an educational session on how to avoid scams and financial abuse.
|Sharsheret's Annual Benefit is a Tremendous Success
On May 6th Sharsheret celebrated with more than 550 supporters, volunteers, and friends at their Annual Benefit. Sharsheret is thankful for continued support, enabling them to provide critical services to Jewish women, their families, and communities nationwide. The event was a tremendous success and demonstrated that it truly does take a team. Watch their new video, "It Takes A Team", which debuted at the event, and share this link with friends. Save the date for next year's Annual Benefit, Sunday, May 5, 2013!
On Tuesday, May 8th Jewish Family and Community Services of Southwest Florida held a breakfast to celebrate their KOVOD Award and thank the four congregations that participated in the "Seder in a Box" collaborative project to raise funds for Passover Assistance. JFCS Southwest FL presented each of the four congregations with a replica of the AJFCA Kovod award with each congregation's name and logo. So now four congregations have an award with AJFCA and JFCS Southwest FL hanging in their buildings!
On May 16th Samost Jewish Family & Children's Service of Southern New Jersey hosted their 68th Annual Meeting and Recognition of Volunteers. The festive evening is being held at the local JCC. Andi Lowe, JFCS Director of Volunteers publicly acknowledged all the hard work and time that JFCS volunteers have dedicated to the agency. Sharing volunteer successes with the community highlighted their volunteers as role models, while encouraging others to give of their time.
A record-breaking $1 million was raised at the Jewish Child Care Association's "Celebration of Hope" Fundraising Benefit on Tuesday, April 24th at the Mandarin Oriental, New York thanks to Jonathan M. Tisch, CEO of Loews Hotels and more than 300 friends and supporters. JCCA CEO Richard Altman said, "We are so grateful to our wonderful honoree and all our generous donors for believing that every child deserves to grow up hopeful."
Jewish Family Service of Colorado's eighth annual JFS Executive Luncheon held on May 8th at the Grand Hyatt Denver entertained a sold-out crowd of 650 business and professional leaders. The event raised a record $468,000-$156,000 more than last year- to support all programs of JFS, including mental health counseling, senior and adult in-home care, disability and employment services, and family safety net services.
One of JFS's SHALOM Denver clients, Heidi Pittaway, bravely shared her personal success story about how the agency's job training program helped her, as a young single mother of two, transition from welfare to work. "SHALOM guided me," Heidi said. "The program gave me a dose of reality and helped me build my skills and confidence to succeed."
Since 1912, Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford, CT has served adults, children, and families in the Greater Hartford community without regard to age, religion, income, physical ability, or race, through counseling and other vital programs.
To celebrate this milestone, JFS is hosting a Sparkling Evening on June 10th including dinner, tribute program, music, and dessert.
A Recipe for Success: Tracking & Converting to Maximize Returns
Converting new subscribers to donors of course depends on the RIGHT communication strategy; but maximizing the return on your online constituency growth investment depends on the RIGHT data and the RIGHT interpretation. Do you have a plan? Do you know what to look for? ...and what it all means?
Learn from this real-life example how to manage and track new online subscribers and how it can help guide you on your communications and fundraising, as well as pinpoint the real value of your nonprofit's supporters.
In this webinar you will learn:
- Why it is important to recruit new supporters?
- How to keep online subscribers engaged, involved and converting to donors?
- What are the right metrics for measuring success, short term and long term?
- How to compare your online investment to other direct response and marketing channels?
A Recipe for $uccess: Tracking & Converting to Maximize Returns
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2:00pm ET - REGISTER HERE
Improving Outcomes for Transition Age Foster Youth
In the course of six years, the California Connected by 25 Initiative (CC25I) broke down silos, transformed systems of care and improved outcomes for youth aging out of foster care across eight counties. Funded by the Stuart Foundation and the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, county child welfare agencies worked with community partners to provide comprehensive, integrated, youth-focused services with the aim to improve permanency, education, housing, employment and financial literacy outcomes.
How did counties develop community partnerships, engage foster youth as leaders and use data to inform and improve practice? Join Patrick Lester, VP of Social Impact, Social Solutions, for a conversation with CC25 leaders. Speakers will discuss how the collection of data across counties helped increase focus on the needs of transition age youth and ultimately improve outcomes.
Improving Outcomes for Transition Age Foster Youth
Thursday, May 24th, 3:00pm ET - REGISTER HERE
The State of the Nonprofit Cloud: Results of the Study
Consultants and advertisements alike are urging nonprofits "to The Cloud," but how many have heeded the call? Are organizations actually using it? What can you do there? How have Anonymous and LulzSec impacted the Cloud's appeal? To answer these questions and more, NTEN and Idealware surveyed 780 nonprofits nationwide about how they used hosted software.
Did you know:
- that email is the most widely-used cloud software?
- that once a nonprofit starts using one cloud software solution, it's likely to use more?
- that many staff members were using cloud software, but didn't even realize it?
Participate in this free webinar to hear NTEN and Idealware present an overview of their research for the new report, The State of the Nonprofit Cloud: The Results of a Study of Nonprofit Use of Cloud Software. You can download the complete report for free right here .
The State of the Nonprofit Cloud: Results of the Study
Wednesday, May 30th, 11:00am ET - REGISTER HERE
Health Care Conference Calls
The HHS Partnership Center continues to host a series of interactive conference calls discussing the benefits and provisions of the health care law, the Affordable Care Act. 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 encouraged to submit questions to have answered on the calls to ACA101@hhs.gov.
A discussion of the new home and community-based services that are now available as a result of the health care law, the Affordable Care Act. The new Community First Choice Option will be discussed. Speakers are from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Call-in information will be made available 24 hours in advance.
The Health Care Law and Home and Community-Based Services
Wednesday, May 30th, 2:00pm ET - REGISTER HERE
Health Care Symposia: Issues Unique to Younger Jewish Women - Free National Teleconference and Webinar
Join Sharsheret for a free symposium, "New Advances in Gynecological Health Before and After Cancer" . This symposium will focus on the most current research regarding gynecological concerns before and after a breast cancer or ovarian cancer diagnosis. Panelists include Dr. Tessa Cigler, Dr. Elizabeth Poynor, Clinical Supervisor Shera Dubitsky, and a Sharsheret Peer Supporter. For more information and to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
"New Advances in Gynecological Health Before and After Cancer"
Wednesday, July 11th, 8:00pm ET