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.
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The key, he said, is engaging with the donors. They may be attracted to Jewish philanthropy through a small innovative program on campus, but once the connection is made, they’ll become attentive to other needs. CEJP states that its funders come in with a clear commitment to bring in new dollars to the system, not to shift their contribution from one cause to another.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi had worked with Hyman when she headed the Israel Project and praised his matchmaking capabilities, bringing together top donors and vetted Jewish organizations.

“He works with incredibly high net worth individuals who are incredibly picky about what they want to do with their money,” she said. Laszlo Mizrahi recalled that Hyman matched The Israel Project with donors who had not been involved in Israel programming and who gave gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each.

“He doesn’t work for the charities, he works for the philanthropists,” she said.

One such philanthropist who attended the summit was Michael Leven, president and COO of Las Vegas Sands. “It is a dramatic advantage for funders,” he said. “All the organizations are good, but as a funder, I want to fund a program where you can see the needle move,” he added.

Deals were not finalized at the summit, but initial understandings were reached on funding at least eight programs totaling more than $1 million.

Hyman believes this number is only a beginning. In an email to supporters he estimated that fundraising through this new model could bring in another $100 million. The New York communal professional, who spent much of his career in the federation system, spoke in almost prophetic terms when describing this as a “game changing” moment in Jewish philanthropy.

“We have to stop playing defense,” he said. “The money is there. We’ve got all the right values; we’ve got the right state of mind. The Jewish community is heroic, and we have the talent. What we need now is the belief that we deserve the $100 million gifts.”

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or on Twitter @nathanguttman


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