JFN 2020 Virtual Convening Materials

Hundreds of people participated in our first-ever virtual convening on March 23 and 24.

Amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus, we couldn't risk traveling and meeting face to face, which is why we made the difficult decision a few weeks earlier to cancel our annual conference. But because it was critical to discuss what we, as funders, can do to help the community and each other we convened virtually on March 23 and March 24. Our program included a few sessions from our conference that we believed had real bearing and relevance on where we are today. And we also had new sessions specifically focused on the current situation and the ways in which we, the funder community, can be most helpful moving forward.

In case you weren't able to make it -- or even if you were, but you want to review it -- please find below a video and text of JFN President and CEO Andrés Spokoiny's speech, as well as videos of several sessions. You can also view them directly on our YouTube channel or Facebook page.


Coronavirus Is a Test and Failing Is Not an Option (Presidential Address, March 23, 2020)


Day 1 Plenary (March 23)

In this unexpected moment of upheaval, what resources can Jewish funders use to review and revise their work and priorities? This online plenary program brings together funders with wisdom and experience in responding to crisis along with the ethical treasures of Jewish wisdom to help guide our decisions. In this program: Victoria Vrana, Deputy Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, a world leader in health philanthropy provides an overview of philanthropic response in these times; JFN members Jeff Solomon and Marc Baker share lessons from their experience and Jewish sources on how to remain ethical, caring and mentschlich in these times.


Tzedakah We Can Believe In: A $600 Billion Opportunity to Secure the Jewish Future (March 23)

Jewish philanthropy is declining, as many families are increasing their giving to causes outside the community. A rising percentage of the next generation of Jews are disconnecting from Judaism and the State of Israel. Now is the time to do something radical to secure the Jewish future. The Jewish Future Pledge is igniting a national conversation and encouraging Jews to commit at least 50 percent or more of the charitable dollars in their legacy giving to Jewish and Israel-related causes. Eric Fingerhut (Jewish Federations of North America), Terry Kassel (Paul E. Singer Found'n), Mike Leven (Michael & Andrea Leven Family Found'n), David Zalik (Zalik Family Found'n) & Alana Newhouse (Tablet) discuss this new initiative, which has an estimated $600 billion potential to create an influx of financial resources to benefit the entire Jewish world.


Israel’s Social Sector In the Wake of COVID-19 — Roles, Challenges and Needs (March 23)

This program lays out the current state of Israel’s social sector, the role it plays in the coronavirus crisis, and the potential role for philanthropy.

In this briefing, we hear from Lior Finkel-Perl, CEO of Civil Leadership, about the status of the social sector in Israel, especially given the lack of a governmental budget over the past year and now further impacted by the coronavirus. She will share results from a recent survey of the needs of the NGO sector in Israel and potential directions for involvement. JDC Israel’s director of planning and development, Galit Sagie, presents on examples for emergency adaptations they have implemented in the past few weeks in reaction to the situation. Finally, we discuss steps funders can take to react effectively to the situation as well as points to think about in the months to come.


Democratizing Philanthropy (March 23)

Are the values of philanthropy and democracy compatible? Join the Applied Research Collective for American Jewry at NYU for an exploration of new models of grantmaking, particularly those that extend some decision-making power to a wider circle of stakeholders. Do the practical and ethical benefits outweigh trade-offs in efficiency and expertise? How might foundations, federations, donor advised funds, and giving circles consider integrating new practices and voices into their work?
Speakers: Professor Lila Corwin Berman, Temple University; Mark Charendoff, The Maimonides Fund; Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, Bronfman Center for Jewish Life, New York University.


Expand Your Comfort Zone: Taking Risks in Philanthropy (March 23)

Philanthropy is often described as society’s “risk capital.” However, the idea of risk in philanthropy quickly muddies as we direct our generosity through a foundation, donor-advised fund, giving circle, or other collective effort. Our ideas about–and tolerance for–risk diverge, shaped by family, professional, volunteer, and other experiences. In this session, you’ll learn how funders can clarify types of philanthropic risk, assess and manage risk, and expand their comfort zone to embrace increased uncertainty in their strategies. Speaker: Tony Macklin, principal of Tony Macklin Consulting


Day 2 Plenary (March 24)

Note: This video is available upon request to JFN members. To receive a private link to the video, please email [email protected]

Hear from one of Israel’s most popular speakers, Yoram Yovell, who brings insights from the world of brain science on how we build resilience and create mental and emotional strength for ourselves, our families and our extended communities, especially when social distancing requires us to be physically separate. Jude Yovel Recanati, founder of Natal and chair of Gandyr Foundation, speaks to working with vulnerable populations, and Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz offers a message of hope and strength.


Relational Engagement and its Power to Change Your Community (March 24)

Explore the challenges, values, and opportunities around relational engagement and alternative community-building in Jewish life. The panel of funders, practitioners, and program leaders offer a framing and experiential exercises to invite participants to experience the art and power of relational moments. Funders will reflect on the challenges, risks, and successes in funding Jewish relational engagement in local communities, with a focus on young adults. Participants will learn how to bring relational engagement techniques to their communities in ways that enhance Jewish life and experiences across multiple generations. Speakers: Karyn Cohen of One8 Foundation, Beth Cousens of Jewish Federations of North America, Adina Dubin Barkinskiy of the Morningstar Foundation, and Rachel Gildiner of GatherDC.


Going on Offense: Fighting Antisemitism in Legal, Policy and Social Media Arenas (March 24)

The technologies that have “flattened the globe” also ease the ability to organize for those who seek to stoke hate against Jews and Israel. And too frequently of late, online activity turns into real-world attacks and hate-filled rallies—places like Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, Christchurch, and Poway are now associated with indelible images of tragedy. Efforts to combat this kind of organization on social media and in other corners of the Internet is a massive challenge, being slowly addressed through civil society, legal action, and lobbying for laws that better address the challenges contemporary technologies and behavior present. This session convenes lawyers, funders, activists, and lobbyists to examine: What the law actually says about free speech and hate speech, and how to hold social media/Internet companies accountable to create a safer environment; The role of legal action—such as Sines v. Kessler (Integrity First for America’s case against the leaders of the Charlottesville rally)—in fighting white nationalists;How Jew hatred has become more socially acceptable in cyberspace and what can be done about it; Public and policymaker campaigns for legislative change, including legislation targeting BDS supporters and commercial boycotts of Israel. Speakers: Rachel Fish of Foundation to Combat Antisemitism; Dillion Hosier of Israeli-American Civic Action Network; Dave Sifry of the Anti-Defamation League; Amy Spitalnick of Integrity First for America

Download related resources.

Supporting Grantee Resilience (March 24)

Funders often consider what makes a nonprofit organization resilient in a crisis or downturn, and what funders can do to proactively help their grantees prepare. And here we are today—beyond the window of preparing, and fully into responding. What can funders learn from what was helpful — and what wasn’t — in the 2008 economic downturn and prior recessions? What are the initial actions funders are taking? What is similar about this crisis, and what unique attributes should funders be anticipating with and for their grantees? Facilitated by Emily Sterling, founder and CEO of Olive Grove.

Download presentation materials.