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Friday, September 28, 2012
D'Var Torah

Lee I. Sherman

"The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray," (a slight modernization of the Robert Burns line from "To a Mouse"), is a familiar concept to all of us. We plan carefully, thinking through each step, and then something unanticipated occurs to sidetrack or delay the expected result. The diverting event may be beyond our control (the weather, an illness, an economic downturn), but the effect on our well-thought out plan of action is nevertheless the same. We have to regroup, adjust, modify, and continue in a new direction, perhaps requiring different resources and additional time, but still on a path to the desired goal.

As we come to the conclusion of our reading of Deuteronomy, I can't help but imagining what Moses must have been thinking. He has given his final words to the People of Israel, including the beautiful poetic verses of the parashah Ha'azinu, words of warning in anticipation of their entry into the Promised Land. Yet, Moses knows he will not be joining his people in this new land. This could not have been the way that he planned it. Four decades ago, when Moses was convincing Pharaoh to release his Hebrew slaves, he had a specific plan of action in mind. The people leave Egypt, gather at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah, and then proceed to the Land of Israel, a trip of perhaps a few months. Moses would lead his people into their new home and establish a great nation.

But, the people did not always cooperate in this plan. The incident of the golden calf, and lots of complaining and bad behavior along the way, meant forty years of wandering in the wilderness was required before the Children of Israel were ready to form a nation. And, Moses exhibited a bit of bad behavior himself, barring his entry into the land of his dreams. We have just experienced the cleansing of the High Holy Days to prepare us to begin anew and make more careful plans for our actions in the coming year. As we sit in our sukkot over the coming week, we are reminded of the wilderness that Moses and his people experienced on their way to their destination, and that we too will be called upon to adjust as our "best laid plans" go awry.

Shabbat Shalom and Yom Tov..
AJFCA and the Claims Conference Hold Important Meeting
On Thursday, September 20th, AJFCA and the Claims Conference co-hosted an informational session and discussion at the offices of the Claims Conference in New York City. AJFCA anajfca logo-resizedd Claims Conference staff were joined by representatives of eight AJFCA member agencies in New York, and another 27 agencies participated by conference call. After Lee Sherman welcomed the participants, framed the issues for discussion, and thanked everyone for the critical work being done in support of Holocaust Survivors in North America, Greg Schneider, Executive Vice Presidclaims conference logoent of the Claims Conference, provided updates on key changes to eligibility definitions and relations with the German Government. Greg also reported on the current state of funding, reporting requirements, and the launching of a new database. AJFCA member agency representatives, Reuben Rotman of JFS MetroWest, NJ, Sheri Sax of JFSA Cleveland, OH, and Jenni Frumer of Alpert JF&CS, West Palm Beach, FL, presented information in the areas of communications, service issues, and funding unmet needs. Greg Schneider provided answers to many of the specific issues that were raised, and to some questions that were subsequently raised by agencies on the conference call.
All of those present at the meeting were appreciative of the opportunity to exchange information. We all understand our obligation to provide for the needs of the victims of Nazi persecution, and AJFCA, the Claims Conference, and our member agencies are all committed to ensuring that those needs are met.  

To listen to a recording of this meeting click here.
Opening Abraham's Tent: The Disability Inclusion Initiative
The Jewish Federations of North America, the Mizrahi Family Charitable Fund, the Jewish Funders Network, and the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes are pleased to announce the creation of a conference dedicated to a discussion of how to build Jewish communities that are more inclusive of individuals with disabilities and their families.

Opening Abraham's Tent: The Disability Inclusion Initiative
Tuesday, November 13th, 6:45pm-10:00pm
Wednesday, November 14th, 7:45am-3:00pm
Baltimore, Maryland

Featuring Keynote Address by Governor Jack Markell of Delaware Chair, National Governors Association sharing his vision for improving employment outcomes for the disability community as well as sessions focusing on
  • the difficult concepts and questions communities must address in order to develop a culture of inclusion
  • how to develop the tools that allow a community to make an immediate impact on inclusion for individuals with disabilities, their loved ones and caregivers
  • the issue of inclusion from the perspective of funders
  • a look at innovative best practices addressing individual issues within the broader context of inclusion 
This conferencjfna logoe will feature leaders with experience in helping communities to promote a culture of inclusion and will provide an opportunity for federation professionals, family service agency professionals, educators, planners and lay leaders to develop the tools necessary to begin the effort to accomplish this important goal.  
Please join JFNA as they gather to discuss how we can work together to achieve the goal of building accessible, accepting, accommodating and welcoming Jewish communities for individuals with disabilities and their families. 

Registration for the Disability Inclusion Initiative
Click here if you plan to attend the 2012 General Assembly and the Disability Inclusion Initiative - $82
Click here if you only plan to attend the Disability Inclusion Initiative - $118

For more information about this conference, click here or contact David Feinman with JFNA.
Rethinking Sukkot: Women, Relationships & Jewish Texts
Just in time for your sukkah dinners, JWI is releasing the third in a series of study guides related to women, relationships, and Jewish texts. JWI envisions women, men, families, friends, study partners, and others sitting around tables in beautifully decorated sukkahs, eating delicious food, and engaged in discussions based on the texts and conversation starters in the guide.
Sukkot occurs as the weather is changing and we feel the beauty of nature. We enjoy eating outside during the first days of fall and welcoming guests for a festive meal before the weather turns cold. The holiday almost encourages us to reflect on the change in season and what change can mean to us. The guide explores several well known prayers and readings for Sukkot and starts conversations about the themes of inspiration, protection, and spiritual growth. It opens the door to discussions about healthy choices and meaningful relationships. It encourages reflection on whether or not we are making the best decisions for ourselves and our families.

These guides have been written by JWI's Clergy Task Force on Domestic Abuse in the Jewish Community in order to encourage healthy relationships. JWI appreciate their contributions to the project and the opportunities it creates for thoughtful conversations. Their earlier Purim and Shavuot guides were widely used and are also available on the JWI website.

JWI encourages you to download the guide from their website, http://www.jwi.org/holidayguides, and explore the concept of sukkat shalom, a home of peace and security. JWI welcomes your comments and feedback.
The Eight-Word Mission Statement
Whatever windy drivel they might put forward as a corporate mission statement, mainstream for-profit businesses have a clear, central mission: make money for shareholders. Some do it more sustainably, some are nicer about it, but they're all in the same boat. If they have a bad idea or execute poorly on a good one, they fail in their mission and eventually go out of business.

Mission statements in the social sector are often the same kind of word-salad, but there isn't a common raison d'etre. As investors in impact, the Mulago Foundation-doesn't want to wade through a bunch of verbiage about "empowerment," "capacity-building," and "sustainability"-they want to know exactly what you're trying to accomplish. They want to cut to the chase, and the tool that works for them is the eight-word mission statement. All they want is this:

A verb, a target population, and an outcome that implies something to measure-and they want in eight words or less.
stanford social innovation review
Why eight words? It just seems to work. It's long enough to be specific and short enough to force clarity. Save kids' lives in Uganda. Rehabilitate coral reefs in the Western Pacific. Prevent maternal-child transmission of HIV in Africa. Get Zambian farmers out of poverty. These statements tell us exactly what the organization has set out to accomplish. Once we've got it, we know whether they are working on something that fits our own mission, and we have a useful starting point for any subsequent conversations.

Click here to read the entire article and see why 8 is sufficient to create a powerful mission statement.
Incentives and Young Jewish Adults: The Questions We Should Be Asking
It is no secret that in order to attract young adult participants, the organized Jewish community has readily provided incentives in exchange for participating in various programs. These incentives take on different forms, from free trips to Israel, to subsidized housing, to discounted JCC memberships, to the provision of free alcohol at events. There are even programs that go so far as to pay young adults to study Jewish topics. Knowing that we as a community are using incentives, it's essential that we use them responsibly, and to do all that we can to ensure that donor dollars used to provide them are having the greatest impact possible.ejewish philanthropy
  1. What will the long-term impact of this particular incentive be?
  2. What are we doing to meaningfully evaluate the incentives themselves?
  3. What does this mean going forward? 
The greatest challenge of all will be countering the historic tendency of Jewish organizations to embrace a narrative of "if it isn't broken, don't fix it," and having it shift to a narrative of "how can we constantly be improving and striving to most efficiently and effectively utilize donor dollars?" Admittedly such a shift will be difficult, but in a Jewish communal world that is contracting, and with donors (rightfully) demanding accountability and data, it is essential.
Read the entire article here.
Everything social freshYou Need To Know About the New Twitter Profiles
A new Twitter profile design launched on September 18th on the Today Show. Twitter has added a nice "header" image for all profiles in the right hand column. This header image also serves as a background image for the Twitter profile image, bio, location, and link.
How To Get It -The new profile design has rolled out to everyone, but the old Twitter profile design will remain for your account until you decide to upload a header image. To check to see if you can access the new profile go to Twitter.com/settings/design and upload a "header" image. It will be right above your background image options.
Old Enhanced Profiles -If you are a brand that previously had the enhanced profile page (EPP), this new design will replace the old wider banner image. EPP advertising partners will still be able to pin Twitter to the top of their Twitter profile.
Background Image Tweaks -Along with this rollout, Twitter has taken the opportunity to improve their background image functionality as well. "Twitter users now have more control of the creative elements within the background image on their profile page. The new design gives marketers the flexibility to align the image and, therefore, use both left and right side of the background image to display rich, engaging content. The photos module on the profile page has also been enhanced to show the most recent six images a user has shared."
More Examples - And of course, with any new combination of a cover photo and profile images, there are already users that have started creating clever visual hacks.

With this new addition, the header image will display really well atop profiles on Twitter's mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android. Similar to Facebook and Path mobile profiles. Since the new profile launched on The Today Show, it looks like NBC had a little lead time as many of their Twitter profiles already have the new design implemented.
Get Ready for Year-End Fundraising
Supporters choose to donate to organizations for a variety of reasons. While most of the time you're better off focusing on the emotional side of giving, at the end of the year data shows you  can get away with an appeal that's focused on the financial side because people love tax deductions.
network for good
Now is the time to focus on building stronger relationships with supporters to lay the groundwork for a big year-end giving season. By checking these items off your list now, you can strengthen the vital relationships that will set your organization up for a strong holiday giving season. Here are five tips to help you kick off your holiday fundraising now:
  1. First things first: Make sure your organization can accept online donations.
  2. Determine the fixes/updates you can make prior to December to your organization's website. 
  3. Become friendly with an email marketing tool to communicate with your donors regularly - not just when you're asking for money. 
  4. Get your story straight. Passion about your work is infectious, but too often fundraisers sap the emotion and color from our work when we seek to put it into words. 
  5. Make a plan.Tips 1-4 get right to the practical heart of your marketing strategy. Don't forget to take a step back to plan ahead. 

Read more about year-end fundraising here

The Social Media Policy Workbook for Jewish Organizations
Darim is pleased to announce the launch of their Social Media Policy Workbook for Jewish Organizations. The Workbook takes staff and lay leaders through step by step processes to explore and articulate your organization's policy and guidelines for social media. Each chapter includes explanations, case studies, and activity worksheets to advance your work thoughtfully and confidently.
Topics include: 
  •  What Does A Social Media Policy Mean to You?
  • Your Organization's Values in Social Mediadarim
  • Social Media Roles: Who Does What?
  • What Should You Say Online?
  • Monitoring
  • Responding to Negative Comments
  • Responding to Positive and Neutral Comments
  • Privacy and Permissions
  • Thinking Through Copyright and Attribution
  • Drawing the Line Between Personal and Professional
  • Sample Policy Language  
The Workbook is made possible through the support and generosity of The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the AVI CHAI Foundation, See3 Communications, UJA Federation of New York, The Covenant Foundation, and Idealware. Download your free copy here
Why Can't We Sell Charity Like We Sell Perfume?
Today, Americans are the world's most generous contributors to philanthropic causes. Each year, we give about 2% of our GDP to nonprofit organizations, nearly twice as much as the U.K., the next closest nation, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Some 65% of all American households with an income of less than $100,000 donate to some type of charity, according to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, as does nearly every household with an income greater than $100,000. These contributions average out to about $732 a year for every man, woman and child in America.

Yet we cling to a puritan approach to how those donations are spent: Self-deprivation is our strategy for social change. The dysfunction at the heart of our approach is neatly captured by our narrow, negative label for the charitable sector: "not-for-profit."
wall street journal
It's time to change how society thinks about charity and social reform. The donating public is obsessed with restrictions-nonprofits shouldn't pay executives too much, or spend a lot on overhead or take risks with donated dollars. It should be asking whether these organizations have what they need to actually solve problems. The conventional wisdom is that low costs serve the higher good. But this view is killing the ability of nonprofits to make progress against our most pressing problems. Long-term solutions require investment in things that don't show results in the short term.

We have two separate rule books: one for charity and one for the rest of the economic world. The result is discrimination against charities in five critical areas.

Read the entire article here.
featured agency  

Nonprofits Must Stop Fearing Money
Nell Edgington was in Birmingham, Alabama a few weekends ago showing AJFCA member agency, Collat Jewish Family Services'  nonprofit board of directors how to finance, not fundraise for, their organization. Nell,collat jfs logo a speaker at AJFCA's 2012 Annual Conference, loves leading these sessions because there is always a point, about 45 minutes into the session, when she sees the light bulb go on around the room. Board members become energized when they realize that instead of fearing money as they have always done, they can employ it to create more social change.
Like it or not, money is an incredible tool. If nonprofit leaders could better understand, stop fearing, and learn how to wield money effectively, the results could be transformative. Here's what it means for a nonprofit to wield the money tool:
  • Add Money to Every Conversation
  • Create a Financing Strategy
  • Make Every Board Member Contribute Financiallysocial velocity
  • Ask For Investments, Not Donations
  • Raise Capital, Not Just Revenue 
Money doesn't have to be a feared, uncomfortable element in the nonprofit sector. It can be an incredibly powerful tool for creating social change. Indeed, the only way for a nonprofit to really succeed is to embrace all that money has to offer.

Read Nell's entire article to learn about money tools in more depth.

The Jewish Federations of North America's (JFNA) National NORCs Aging in Place Initiative peaked in Fiscal Year 2008, and wound down over the next two fiscal cycles. In an 8 year-period, JFNA's initiative secured 99 demonstration grants for nearly 50 institutions in 26 states.

This investment (partnership) was intended to help provide participating communities with the necessary building blocks for successful Aging in Place programming consistent with the trends, preferences, and needs of their communities' older adult populations. It also led to the establishment of the broader Community Innovations for Aging in Place Program of the Administration on Aging (2009-2012).
jfcs greater mercer county
As an Initiative, JFNA worked together with communities on applications, program development, the sharing of best practices, the dissemination of key accomplishments, and in establishing the credentials (bone fides) for lasting programs. For these communities, the work that has been accomplished has created a base of desired programming, experience and infrastructure for healthy and safe aging that ensures the quality of life for their communities' senior members.

Through the National NORCs Aging in Place Initiative, participating communities were ahead of the curve. Now that the program has sunset, these program must transition to locally supported footings.  This would be consistent with the expected course public policy makers have prescribed for the country, and has always been a planning function (responsibility) of the participants. 

Earlier this month, New Jersey's Senate Health and Senior Services Committee approved legislation that provides funding for a NORC-SSP project in Mercer County. A companion bill was approved by the full State Assembly in June.

The Jewish Family & Children's Service of Princeton, New Jersey, has played a significant role in advancing this State initiative, along with the New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations.  Princeton was a participant in the National NORCs Aging in Place Initiative in FY2009.  

New Jersey follows a number of other states that have provided support to NORC-SSP programs. Most notably, neighboring New York State (and City) has enacted permanent legislation that supports multiple NORC-SSP contracts throughout the State. In better fiscal times, Maryland, Georgia, Indiana and Massachusetts also provided support for these initiatives.  New Jersey, which is home to 10 past participants in the National NORCS Initiative, could significantly benefit from a robust program such as New York State's.  Perhaps, with the passage of the Mercer County project, a key footing will be established for future opportunities across New Jersey.

Regional Stakeholder Engagement Teleconference with CMS on Health Insurance Marketplace & Expanded Insurance Options

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) invite you to a regional teleconference with CMS staff to:
  • Update you on the latest information regarding implementation of the Health Insurance Marketplace (Exchanges), part of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Start discussing strategies to educate the uninsured, under-insured, and small businesses about expanded insurance coverage options.  cms
Registration is required. Phone lines are limited. See the teleconference schedule for call details and registration information. If you are unavailable on the date for your region, you may attend any of the other regional sessions. Please forward this invitation to any partners and stakeholders who may want to participate.
CMS values the work you do to ensure that every American is aware of and enrolled in health insurance. For more information on the Affordable Care Act and the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit  
Digital Body Language Summit
Buyer behaviour in todays social world is one that is rather complex and at a constant change. With self-education fronting this change, vendors need to innovate the marketing plan to stay relevant in front of their buyers. Join experts as they share the latest in tracking the obrighttalknline behaviours of he complex B2B sale, content marketing best practices and new technologies that are redefining the way organizations go to market with new products and services.
Marketing Automation: The Blueprint for Sales and Marketing for Success
How to be a Webinar God
Right Content, Right Time, Right Person
How to Gather, Mine and Create Actionable Intelligence Across Webinar Life Cycle
Say What? How To Get the Most Meaning From Digital Body Language
Thursday, September 27th - REGISTER HERE

You can attend any or all of the 45-minute webinars at this summit at no cost, submit real-time questions to presenters and vote in audience polls during the live online event. If you are unable to attend the webinars live, you can view them afterward on demand.
It's All About Content: Using the Internet and Social Media to Reach and Inform Older Adults
Join NCOA and IlluminAge to discover how your aging services organization can maximize online communications and social media to better reach and serve older adults.
Discover: ncoa logo
  • What does it mean to be "content rich" and why is that important?
  • What are some examples of websites and social media that get this right?
  • What are some ways to publish excellent content on a tight budget?  
It's All About Content: Using the Internet and Social Media to Reach and Inform Older Adults
Thursday, September 27th, 1:30pm ET - REGISTER HERE
5 Ways to Ratchet Up Your Fundraising Using LinkedIn
For nonprofits, LinkedIn can be a development and outreach goldmine. It is a tool that boards, executives, and staff must understand because e-based outreach will be the norm. LinkedIn is the one social medium geared to business people inventureneerterested in professional development and connections. It links 175 million personal profiles that can be tapped according to interest, specialty, location, and background.
Join this webinar and learn how to:
  • Enhance your nonprofit's brand image
  • Increase your visibility with keywords  
  • Research potential major donors
  • Meet the people you want to know  
  • Build long-term relationships 
5 Ways to Ratchet Up Your Fundraising Using LinkedIn
Tuesday, October 2nd, 3:00pm ET - REGISTER HERE
National Medicare Education Program (NMEP) Meeting
The annual Medicare Open Enrollment Period is October 15th -December 7th.  It is time for people with Medicare to compare plans and make sure they have the right health and prescription drug coverage.  
This webinar is designed to provide you with an overview of the differences between the types of Medicare plans and what that means to people with Medicare, how to compare plans, important issues to consider in choosing a plan and where you can get more information or assistance on making a selection.  Helpful information about the Annual Open Enrollment campaign, MA & Part D plan update, Medicare Advantage Landscape, Part D Benefit, and Medicare Plan finder October update will also be presented.
Please email Anne.Avery@cms.hhs.gov or Janet.Miller2@cms.hhs.gov with questions or suggestions.

National Medicare Education Program (NMEP) Meeting
Thursday, October 4th, 2:00pm ET
Call-in number:  1-877-267-1577 Meeting ID:  3358
An Introduction to WealthEngine
Identifying and cultivating the right donors and prospects is the key to driving your organization forward. But finding your top donors with significant wealth, disposable income and an inclination to give to your organization can be a challenge.
wealth engine
Whether you have a small donor database or millions of donor and prospect records, WealthEngine can screen and segment your data so you can focus on efficiency and affective communication to the right donors and prospects. For 19 years, WealthEngine has been helping nonprofit organizations of all spectrums increase their fundraising goals. More than 2,000 clients ranging in size and representing healthcare, higher education, advocacy, and other industries use WealthEngine for their prospect research and screening needs.

An Introduction to WealthEngine
Tuesday, October 16th, 2:00pm ET
To register for this webinar please email Megan by Friday, October 12th.
Save More Money for your Jewish Family & Children's Services Agency  
You ar501c for newslettere 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. 
Save MORE Money for your Jewish Family & Children's Services Agency
Thursday, October 18th, 3:00pm ET
Please contact Heidi Posada, 800-442-4867 x142 with questions.
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