Over the past year, with examples like the now moribund but once cutting-edge Jewish record company JDub on people’s minds, the Jewish community has spent significant time reflecting on how to make these types of innovative startups more sustainable. Funders, in particular, have tried to figure out how to transition them safely on to the “second stage” of their lives as community institutions. And, more fundamentally, a few questions have presented themselves: What are the obligations of original funders once they have reached the end of the initial funding relationship? Where can an organization turn as it enters a stage of growth that requires larger annual budgets and a greater investment in infrastructure? In what ways does an organization need to adapt structurally in order to survive the transition from pioneering startup to stable fixture in the Jewish communal landscape?
At the end of last year, as the Madoff scandal and the economic crisis rocked the Jewish philanthropic world, a sense of near panic erupted within the Jewish community. It turns out that the big revelation was not that we were suddenly faced with a drastic reduction of communal resources; it was that there was a whole sector of Jewish organizations demonstrating that we could, in fact, do more with less.