Venture Capital Meets Philanthropy as Pro-Israel Moguls Seek New Models

Not All Embrace Glitzy Pitches and Right-Wing Politics

Mogul Rules: Joseph Hyman, president of the Center for Entrepreneurial Jewish Philanthropy, greets Noam Katz, left, minister of public diplomacy at the embassy of Israel, and donor Robert Wiener, right, at the recent Israel Summit.
CEJP
Mogul Rules: Joseph Hyman, president of the Center for Entrepreneurial Jewish Philanthropy, greets Noam Katz, left, minister of public diplomacy at the embassy of Israel, and donor Robert Wiener, right, at the recent Israel Summit.

By Nathan Guttman

Published February 11, 2014, issue of February 21, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

The event in New York City in late January looked more like a pitch meeting for venture capitalists than the usual Jewish philanthropic gathering. Several dozen businessmen and women holding booklets with financial balance sheets listened attentively as 17 heads of Jewish not-for-profit organizations took the stage and spoke for 20 minutes each, as if their futures depended on it.

Which, in a way, they did.

The organizers of this first-ever Israel Summit were attempting to copy the style of venture capital summits, where entrepreneurs try to win over deep-pocketed investors, and adapt it to the world of Jewish giving, which has struggled to attract new donors.

“We’re trying to engage powerful business leaders, leaders on Wall Street, on their terms,” said Joseph Hyman, president of the Center for Entrepreneurial Jewish Philanthropy, which organized the summit.

“I just mirrored what is done in business,” he said of the new initiative. “What we pulled off is the same as in the venture capital world.”

But while this model excites some, it leaves behind more traditional Jewish organizations that provide the kind of social services not always attractive to high-roller donors. And, in the case of the January meeting, it also excludes those whose politics didn’t match the largely center and right-wing non-profits invited to pitch.

“I can’t see how this model will serve us,” said an executive in the federation system who asked not to be named. “We can show proven success, but we’re not only about innovation.”

This was not the first attempt by a Jewish organization to streamline interaction between donors and grantees, but it was by far the most intense effort to date. Despite a snow storm that shut down the city a day earlier, donors representing 65 foundations and organizations arrived in Manhattan on January 23 and sat through a day and a half of presentations by select groups working on Israel-related activity in the fields of media, campus and policy.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.