JFN in the Headlines

The latest articles in the media about JFN, as well as op-eds published by JFN members and staff. For a list of articles from before December 2020, email JFN Communications Director Julie Wiener at [email protected]

A Los Angeles Program Is Turning Jewish Teens into Philanthropists

From eJewish Philanthropy (October 4, 2022)

The nine teens were participating in their first session of LAunchpad, a new teen philanthropy program in which Los Angeles-area Jewish teens collectively decide where to allocate thousands of dollars.

After this exercise, Sadie expects that future meetings will try to create consensus around philanthropic giving.

“We probably won’t all agree on what we want to do, necessarily, so using consensus, we won’t do majority votes, but we’ll use it to pick something in a way that includes everyone and is a free-flowing conversation,” she said.

The program’s full name is LAunchpad: The Los Angeles Synagogue Incubator for Youth Philanthropy. It is an initiative of Honeycomb, the teen philanthropy arm of the Jewish Funders Network, and hopes to engage cohorts of adolescents to explore their community’s hyperlocal needs, strengthen leadership skills and learn to become changemakers.

Three L.A.-area Conservative synagogues — Adat Ari El in Valley Village, Congregation Ner Tamid in the South Bay and Sinai Temple in Beverly Hills — and one Reconstructionist congregation, University Synagogue of Irvine — are beginning the new Jewish year by launching this effort, hoping it will yield positive results for Jewish philanthropy in the future, as well as more immediate local impact.



Helping Jewish Funders Step up on Climate Change

From eJewish Philanthropy (October 4, 2022)

Once a hypothetical thing to worry about, climate change has become impossible to ignore, and while its effects are not shared equally, it impacts all of us. I feel it even in my comfortable suburban neighborhood in New Jersey, where each year we have to prepare for stronger and stronger storms that disrupt our power, flood our basements and sometimes kill with falling trees and flash floods.

I’m proud that my organization, the Jewish Funders Network, is one of 20 founding members of the newly launched Jewish Climate Leadership Coalition. Not only are we recognizing that climate change is a matter of moral urgency, but each member has committed to developing and implementing a climate action plan for our organizations. For many members of the coalition, these action plans will focus on reducing the organization’s carbon footprint – and that will certainly be part of JFN’s as well. We’re already greening our annual international conference, including drastically limiting the use of paper, encouraging participants to purchase carbon offsets for their travel, minimizing food waste, offering more plant-based options and limiting the use of plastic.

But as a network serving more than 2,500 funders around the world — a group we estimate collectively gives away $6 billion annually — the most important thing we can do is help those of our members who want to channel more of their resources into climate change prevention and mitigation. We are not just encouraging our members to donate more to environmental causes, but, we are offering them resources to do so as effectively and strategically as possible.



Coalition of Major Jewish Groups Convene in New International Initiative to Fight Climate Change

From eJewish Philanthropy (September 15, 2022)

The Jewish Funders Network has worked to make its conferences paperless in order to reduce waste, and will give future attendees the option to buy carbon offsets for their travel.

But its main climate work, said Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu, the group’s executive vice president, is engaging funders around supporting green initiatives. JFN has a Green Funders Forum and will be encouraging its members to join the coalition. Sirbu said younger funders are especially engaged around the issue. “As an organization we are committed to putting environmental, climate-related content front and center in our programming,” she said.

Read the full article by Ben Sales in eJewish Philanthropy.

Learn more about JFN's role in the coalition and watch a video about the coalition here.


Impacting Investing Goes More Mainstream as ESG Strategies Change

From eJewish Philanthropy (August 15, 2022)

Impact investing eludes a precise definition, as different donors can feel they are making a positive impact with different kinds of investments.

“For some [private] foundations, investing in Israel will be considered impact because it helps Israel,” said Andres Spokoiny, CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, an umbrella group for Jewish private foundations. “Others are going to tell you no, just investing in say, Waze or Mobileye is not really impact…there’s not any tradeoff between profit and philanthropic impact.”

Largely, Jewish community foundations have settled on offering impact investment programs that make donors feel they are making an immediate impact, rather than gaining long-term financial returns from financial markets. Donors aren’t losing money, however, as impact investments are often in the form of recyclable loans.

Read the full article by Lev Gringauz in eJewish Philanthropy.

Read JFN's "Guide to Jewish Impact Investing"

Learn about JFN offerings for impact investors.



Your Daily Phil: New Study on DAF Attitudes

From eJewish Philanthropy (July 19, 2022)

In an article reporting on a new poll finding that most Americans don’t know how charitable foundations and donor-advised funds (DAFs) work but that, one informed, they favor more regulations on them, eJP sought perspective from JFN President and CEO Andres Spokoiny.  

The Ipsos results should be taken “with a lot of salt,” Spokoiny said, noting the low percentage of respondents who were previously aware of DAFs. The survey had 1,005 respondents and a margin of error of 3.5%.

Spokoiny also feels critics overstate the problem, and pointed to a 2021 study from the National Philanthropic Trust, a public charity and philanthropy research organization, showing that DAFs had a payout rate of 23.8% in 2020 – more than double the mandatory payout rate that respondents told Ipsos they support. Meanwhile, private endowed foundations had an average payout rate of 7.3% that year, according to a survey by Candid.


Space at the Table for Everyone

From eJewish Philanthropy (July 11, 2022)

What we learned after this project was well underway is that our model has a name: “participatory grantmaking.” When, this past spring, Jewish Funders Network (JFN) published the guide, “Participatory Grantmaking in the Jewish Community and Beyond,” we discovered we are part of a small but growing community of Jewish funders experimenting with this approach.

Read article by Kim Newstadt in eJewish Philanthropy


How Supply Chain Troubles, Inflation and Stock Market Woes Are Impacting Jewish Nonprofits

From eJewish Philanthropy (June 30, 2022)

“In a time of economic crisis, philanthropy is part of the safety net,” Andres Spokoiny, president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, told eJP, citing the pandemic as an example of funders stepping up in ways they hadn’t before. Of JFN’s 2,500 members, 72% gave more during the pandemic than they had before it started. It’s also too early to see the full impact of inflation and its processes, since “there are many things happening at the same time,” he added.

“We have an objectively strong economy, low unemployment [and] economic reactivation that is easing the burden,” he said. “The scenario we most have to fear is stagflation, inflation with recession. That’s the nightmare situation for humans and the economy.”

Read full article by Esther Kustanowitz in eJewish Philanthropy


Looking To Make Your Grantmaking More Inclusive? Try Participatory Grantmaking.

From eJewish Philanthropy (May 18, 2022)

One of the most famous lines from Pirkei Avot, the compilation of Talmudic wisdom that it’s customary to read at this time of year, is Bar Zoma’s question: “Who is wise? He who learns from all people.”

This teaching is at the heart of participatory grantmaking, an inclusive philanthropic approach that encourages funders to learn from – and in some cases share decision-making power with — the individuals and communities that the funding is designed to benefit.

Read op-ed by JFN Senior Program Director Tamar Frydman in eJP.

Download JFN's "Participatory Grantmaking in the Jewish Community and Beyond."



JFN West Regional Conference Urges Participants to ‘Be the Story’

From eJewish Philanthropy (May 13, 2022)

On arrival at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel earlier this week, there was joyful reunion in the form of cautious hugs, elbow bumps and smiles from mostly maskless participants in the Jewish Funders Network (JFN) West conference, as some 50 philanthropists and fundraising professionals from the western United States gathered for nearly two days of discussion and writing.

“You’re here today because you want to learn, you want to be even more strategic and impactful in your giving, and you want to do it in community with other funders,” JFN West Director Tzivia Schwartz Getzug said in introductory remarks at the event.

Read full article by Esther Kustanowitz in eJewish Philanthropy

Learn more about Be the Story, JFN West's first-ever in-personal regional convening.


It’s Time to Bring Back In-Person Gatherings: Here’s How

From eJewish Philanthropy (May 2, 2022)

“It is so great to be together in person again!”

Last month, at the Jewish Funders Network conference in Palm Beach, Fla., I heard variations of this statement over and over again. After two years of COVID, more than 500 members of our philanthropic community were finally able to meet up in person for a mix of structured programming and informal networking. It was magical! 

As one of the first major Jewish organizations to hold a large in-person conference since COVID upended our lives two years ago, we have learned a lot about how to return safely to in-person gatherings at a time when the pandemic has abated, but not disappeared — a situation that may continue for a long time. In-person gatherings require more planning now than they did in pre-COVID times, but at JFN, we strongly believe that it is worth the extra effort. While we will continue to supplement our in-person gatherings with online ones, we are an organization focused on building networks and relationships, which need human, in-person connections in order to grow and thrive. Because this is a new world that presents new challenges, we thought that sharing our experience may be of help for the broader community as more of us seek to regain the magic of “in person.”

Here are 10 lessons learned...

Read the full article by JFN Executive Vice President Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu in eJewish Philanthropy