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Friday, May 25, 2012
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D'Var Torah

Lee I. Sherman

I have always felt that of all the major Jewish holidays, I understood Shavuot the least. Maybe it was because Shavuot falls at the end of the traditional school year (late May, early June) and did not get much attention in my Hebrew School. Or, maybe it was due to the lack of an obvious symbol of the holiday, unlike the seder, the sukkah, or even the solemnity of the High Holidays (not sure cheesecake qualifies). Also, I have always felt a little baffled in trying to put together the elements of the holiday that I was taught: the receipt of the Torah, one of the three major agricultural festivals, and the reading of the Book of Ruth.


In particular, I have spent some time the past few years trying to gain a greater understanding of the Book of Ruth and its connection to Shavuot. I know that Ruth gleaned from the fields of Boaz, so the grain harvest nexus is there. But, surely there is more. Ruth is a person of commitment and devotion. Ruth is both the giver and recipient of acts of loving kindness. Ruth exhibits the strength of character to support her mother-in-law and the sense of belonging that invigorates a community. Her rewards for her good deeds are to emerge from poverty and to plant the seeds of a nation - she is the great-grandmother of David.


The story of Ruth, her commitment and devotion and the acts of loving kindness, is rooted in the Torah values that were received at Mount Sinai on Shavuot and have been continually received by every succeeding generation. The small acts of kindness that each of us can do every day, and that our agencies do for the thousands of lives that they touch, are a reflection of the life of Ruth and grounded in the same roots of Torah. The connection is a bit clearer to me now.


Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shavuot Sameach.   


AJFCA Adds Blog to Website
We are very excited to add a new feature to the AJFCA website. The AJFCA blog is due to go live the last week in May. You will be able to access the blog both in the utility navigation located in the top right hand corner of the AJFCA website, as well as under the News section. 

This blog will give us the ability to increase the visibility of AJFCA, as well as the opportunity to push out thoughtful content to our network of member and affiliate agencies and beyond. Each member of the AJFCA staff will contribute to this blog, so that you, our network can benefit from each of our perspectives. It is our hope that alternating the content from one portfolio to another will make this a more interesting blog to read and highlight the breadth of the work we do.

Claims Conference Profile  

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany was established in 1951 to secure justice for Jewish victims of Nazi persecution through a combination of negotiations, disbursing funds to individuals aclaims conference logond organizations, and seeking the return of Jewish property lost during the Holocaust. Many AJFCA member agencies work with Holocaust survivors and receive funding from the Claims Conference. AJFCA and the Claims Conference continue their partnership, focusing on issues of concern to survivors and the Jewish community.

The stories of survivors served by our agencies are both poignant and inspiring. Rene Hammond, native Czechoslovakian, learned in school to speak fluent Hungarian, Czech, and English - skills she says "equipped her for survival after the Nazis invaded." Read Rene's entire story to learn about her escape from concentration camp in 1945 and what led her to Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services.

Measuring the Return on Engagement of Community Commitment

Measuring the Return on Engagement of Community Commitment, May 23, 2012, eJP, by Debra Askanase  

Debra Askanase, founder of Community Organizer 2.0, explains below, how to measure the success of one's online presence. Her research clarifies the concepts behind measuring online presence, which is what one should be looking for in a successful online campaign. Additionally, in this clear and specific article that pertains to AJFCA member agencies, Debra shares a sample tool for measuring online persence. 

"I've been talking and thinking a lot about measuring social media engagement with colleagues, nonprofits, and social media activists. Two years ago, those of us participating in social media engagement and strategy were trying to come up with 'the' metric to define social media tactical success. We argued and conversed, exchanged thoughtsejewish philanthropy, and thought about why it's so hard to pin this down. And then social media practice evolved, as did the thinking about measurement. In fact, it's crystal clear to me now:


Measuring Return on Engagement (ROE) is actually two measures:  

SMART goal Return on Engagement, and the ROE of Community Commitment


Using these two metrics, an organization can get a pretty good sense of whether or not its online activities and strategies are working, and whether or not it is building a community of committed stakeholders."


Read the entire article here.

Social Sncoa logoecurity Statements Now Online

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has launched a new online statement that gives eligible workers secure and convenient access to their Social Security earnings and benefit information. The online statement also provides estimates for disability and survivors benefits, and information about qualifying and signing up for Medicare. In February, SSA resumed mailing paper statements to workers age 60+ who are not already receiving Social Security benefits. Learn more here.

Smaller Boards Flexible, Engage All Members

Smaller Boards Flexible, Engage All Members, May 1, 2012, The Nonprofit Times, by Mark Hrywna

Nonprofit boards typically get big because of a give-or-get policy, adding members and morphing board sourceinto fundraising mechanisms, said Nancy Lublin, Do Something's Executive Director. Boards generally go by the law of thirds, according to Lublin: one-third of members are "super engaged," another third are not and essentially "dead weight," and another third are somewhere in the middle, no matter how small. "For a big board like that, it's easy for people to check out," she said.


According to the BoardSource 2010 Governance In­dex Survey, the average size of a board is 16 members, with a mnptmedian of 15. Organizations with budgets of $10 million or more have an average of 18, according to the index, and those with less than $1 million typically have 14. Some states require only a minimum number of board members for a nonprofit, as few as one, two or three.


Read more about smaller boards and engaging members here.

How Do I Draw On A Computer?

How Do I Draw On A Computer? May 2, 2012, Idealware, by Chris Bernard  

Hand-drawn images can add color and personality to your organization's website, blog and Facebook page, but how can you make them on a computer? In this AskIdealware video, Idealware's graphic design intern and resident illustrator Joe Rosshirt explains his process for making illustrations on the computer. 

Establish Social Media Knowledge Sharing Practices

Establish Social Media Knowledge Sharing Practices, May 14, 2012, eJP, by Debra Askanase 
Social media cannot thrive in silos. What is happening online affects the entire organization, not just the marketing department, or the development team, or the executive director. And while social media usage
has truly penetrated the nonprofit sector, reports and activities are usually not shared throughout the organization. What results is a lack of organizational buy-in, misunderstanding of the benefit of digital engagement, missed opportunities, and role confusion. Instead of siloing information, turn it around. Knowledge sharing results in stronger organizations that have a broader knowledge base about its online stakeholders, and a wide net of useful information to meet organizational goals. 


There are six essential pieces of information that should be shared throughout the organization:ejp full logo

  1. Social media metrics
  2. Social media roles and activities
  3. Online mentions of the organization
  4. Online mentions of a specific keyword, phrase, competitor, or conversation topic that is of interest to the organization
  5. Digital campaign activities and results
  6. Online identities, apps, channels, tools, and platforms: what you use to make social media magic

What is essential is that the information is accessible by all, shared routinely, and acted upon. Knowledge sharing adds another layer of social media value to the organization, a feedback loop for your social media efforts, an integrated approach to being social. The more knowledge is shared, the stronger your social media return!


Read the remainder of the article to learn about ideas for establishing a knowledge sharing culture.

A Call for Jewish Innovation Month

A Call for Jewish Innovation Month, May 15, 2012, eJP by Ariel Beery  

In a seemingly parallel world to the political messes of recent months, a new world is being born right before our eyes: a world born out of the visions of young Jewish social entrepreneurs around the world, over a hundred of which will be launchinPresenTenseg their ventures this June. So Ariel Beery, co-founder and co-director of the PresenTense Group, proposes to declare June Jewish Innovation Month.  


Starting on May 31st in Boston, six communities across North America - and five others worldwide - will host a total of eleven Launch Nights to showcase the 117 new Jewish social ventures that PresenTense partners have catalyzed over the past year. These 117 social ventures, in fields as diverse as education, social action, environmental programs and Israel education, will join the 153 community oriented start-ups PresenTense has helped launch over the past five years - 113 (or 74%) of which are still going in the present day. Many of these Jewish social entrepreneurs past and present, and the volunteers who helped them, will meet at the Schusterman Foundation's ROI Summit in Israel - yet another reason that June is a natural for Jewish Innovation Month.


Read the entire article to learn more about PresenTense, the 117 new ventures, and call for Jewish Innovation Month.

NTEN Hosts Technology Leadership Academy

Now more than ever, nonprofit leaders must understand the potential technology has to help them meet their missions. You require effective ways to manage technology and lead others to use tools to their best organizational advantage.


The Nonprofit Technology Network's Technology Leadership Academy is a training program designed to help you do just that. NTEN, endorsed by Brian I. Block, AJFCA Annual Conference presenter and Social Media Strategist, is able to offer the Technology Leadership Academy at no charge to qualifying organizations (with operating revenues of less than $2 million). Learn more and apply (by June 8th).


The Academy is a unique opportunity to learn and interact with your peers while creating a tight network of nonprofit leaders working towards a common mission: using technology to create social change. This intensive nine-week technology boot camp of sorts is led by some of the top names in nonprofit tech including AJFCA partner, IdealNTENware, who will be leading a session on "Bringing Order to Your Constituent Data" at the upcoming academy in July.


NTEN will offer the Academy one more time in 2012.  


Jewish Family & Children's Services of Southern Arizona honored volunteers for Volunteer Appreciation Week with a salute to its volunteer corps. More than 20 volunteers gathered for a luncheon honoring their service on April 19th. JFCS staff turned the tables and served volunteers for a change.    

jfcs tucson 

Linda Krause, Volunteer Services Manager, saluted the volunteers, noting the profound impact each of them has on the success of the agency. "Whether they are project-based volunteers helping at one or two events, or here daily, the organization could not function without them.JFCS volunteers are so dedicated and give from the heart. It is a real pleasure to work with them."   


On Tuesday, May 15th, Jewish Family & Children's Service of Pittsburgh held their 2012 Annual Meeting, sharing accomplishments and progress over the past year and kicking off their 75th Anniversary celebration.

jfcs pittsburgh
JF&CS was honored with a Proclamation from Pittsburgh City Council, declaring May 15th as "Jewish Family & Children's Service Day" in Pittsburgh.


CEO Aryeh Sherman writes, "For 75 years, we've proven that a better day is always within reach, JF&CS has touched the lives of thousands of our friends, neighbors and relatives. As we celebrate this milestone anniversary, we're proud of our 75-year legacy of making a profound impact in peoples' lives, and we are committed to providing support, service, and continued innovation in light of evolving community needs and challenges for the next 75 years and more."


Jewish Family Service of Seattle held an amazing Community of Caring Luncheon on May 17th. The energy among attendees was "absolutely electric."  jfs seattle


CEO, Ken Weinberg writes, "Even if you weren't at the Luncheon, thank you for your ongoing support and helping JFS celebrate believing in one another for 120 years. Listen  to Ken's personal thank you here.   


Volunteer Management: 5 Trends That Can Improve Your Fundraising Bottom Line

Would you be surprised to hear that volunteers give 10x more to an organization than non-volunteers? In Convio's recent webinar with volunteer expert, Jayne Cravens, 5 Volunteer Management trends and how they impact convio logofundraising were discussed. This exclusive webinar, now available on-demand, will give you a new perspective on the value of a volunteer and how to develop a relationship with your volunteers that can result in not just time given to your organization but talent and dollars.


Grab your Volunteer Managers and your Fundraising teams and watch this webinar together! You'll come away with powerful reasons to collaborate on how to engage, cultivate and develop these valuable supporters.


Volunteer Management: 5 Trends That Can Improve Your Fundraising Bottom Line - Watch Here


Download your free copy of the guide From VIP Volunteer to High-Dollar Donor  and a free download of Jayne's sample volunteer survey.


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 .NTEN


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.
hhs logo 

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


Let's Move! Conference Call

Learn how community leaders are encouraging their members of every age to join in physical activities, create community gardens and participate in other intergenerational programs that contribute to the health and wellness of the places they live, worship or play together. May is Older Americans Month and the theme for 2012 is Never Too Old to Play, which encourages older Americans to stay engaged, active and involved in their communities. Share your ideas and your community's experiences in bringing people of all ages together!  


Let's Move!

Wednesday, May 30th, 2:00pm ET - REGISTER HERE


Behavioral Health Information Technology Conference Call

The Jewish Federations of North America is hosting a conference call on to discuss efforts regarding Behavioral Health Information Technology (BHIT) legislation that has already been introduced in the Senate. JFNA has strong reason to believe the legislation will be introduced in the House shortly (please see the attached memo).   


Behavioral healthcare is an umbrella term that comprises both mental health and substance abuse treatment. Many of our partner agencies, particularly Jewish Family & Children's Agencies, are quite engaged in this type of service delivery. Given partner agency involvement, JFNA has become more involved with these legislative efforts and is a leading member of the Behavioral Health Information Technology Coalition.    


The need to expand health information technology to different sectors, such as behavioral healthcare, has grown in recent years given the outpatient treatment options that are now available. JFNA hopes that your agency/federation will be able to join us for this conference call and build on the growing number of communities that are capitalizing on behavioral health service delivery. The call will discuss this issue with noted Behavioral Health advocate Alfonso Guida (bio attached) and Ronald Soloway, Managing Director of Government & External Relations for UJA-Federation of New York. UJA-Fed has been a key leader on behavioral health issues and is quite focused on the BHIT legislation.  jfna logo


Behavioral Health Information Technology 

Wednesday, June 6th, 3:00pm ET

Call-In: 877-304-2955

Conference ID:  6823774516#


Please RSVP to Allison Redisch by COB Thursday, May 31st.


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 teleconference@sharsheret.org .sharsheret


"New Advances in Gynecological Health Before and After Cancer"

Wednesday, July 11th, 8:00pm ET

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