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!
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • The Cossacks were a feature in every European Jewish kid's worst nightmare. Tuvia Tenenbom went looking for the real-life variety in Ukraine — but you won't believe what he found. http://forward.com/articles/202181/my-hunt-for-the-cossacks-in-ukraine/?
  • 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.