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]

How Israeli Philanthropy Is Changing in the COVID Era

From eJewish Philanthropy (April 28, 2022)


“There’s a steady rise, slow but stable, in the amount of money donated and the number of donors giving in Israel,” Sigal Yaniv Feller, executive director of the Jewish Funders Network in Israel, told eJP. “More people understand that it’s important to give, and have the ability to give.”

Historically, Israel was a developing nation whose populace had a strong tradition of volunteerism and national service, rather than a culture of financial giving. Israel’s mandatory draft, which conscripts most 18-year-olds for two to three years, continues to reinforce an Israel ethos of giving time and physical energy. As of 2020, Israelis on average donated 1% of their disposable income, as opposed to Americans, who donated 2% on average.

But there are signs that as Israel has become more affluent, and particularly as its tech sector has brought wealth to the country, Israelis are beginning to open their wallets. According to a study commissioned by the government and Tel Aviv University, Israeli philanthropy grew 43% between 2009 and 2015 in total shekels given, and native Israeli philanthropy accounted for more than a third of donations in the country.


Read full article by Linda Gradstein and Ben Sales in eJewish Philanthropy


Incoming UAE Envoy to the Vatican Says Warming Ties with Israel is the Real Deal

From The Circuit (April 11, 2022)

Speaking to JI on the sidelines of the recent Jewish Funders Network Conference in Palm Beach, Fla., Ghobash, 50, who is a well-known diplomat, businessman and author in his own country, will soon be at the forefront of interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance in the Vatican as his country leads a historic process in the Arab world to encourage peaceful relations with the world’s only Jewish state.

Ghobash explained that because the UAE is a “leadership organized society,” everyone looks to the royals for guidance, and his fellow countrymen have chosen to embrace the historic steps taken over the past two years by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, better known by his initials, MBZ.

Read the full article by Ruth Eglash in The Circuit


How Jewish Funders Are Mobilizing to Fight Climate Change

From Inside Philanthropy (April 6, 2022)

Jewish voters care deeply about climate change. In 2020, prior to the United States presidential elections, 80% of Jewish voters told pollsters that climate change was a major concern. In fact, climate change was Jewish voters’ No. 2 issue, just below the coronavirus pandemic. Since vaccines have become available, climate change has replaced COVID-19 as the issue that matters most to them.

That level of concern shows up in Jewish philanthropy, as well. There is a large and growing ecosystem of Jewish donors prioritizing climate change, motivated by a combination of care for their communities, concerns over inequality and suffering, and any number of other core Jewish values. And those involved see it as a critical cause that others should be taking up, one in which Jewish voices have a unique role to play.

This article mentions JFN's Green Funders Forum, quotes JFN Israel Executive Director Sigal Yaniv Feller, and quotes JFN members Marla Stein and Stephen Bronfman.

Read the full article by Simone Ellin in Inside Philanthropy. JFN members get a 25 percent discount on Inside Philanthropy subscriptions. Learn more and get your discount code here.




Amid Rise in Terror, Arab Israeli Minister Says Abraham Accords Can Spark Peace with Palestinians

From Jewish Insider (April 4, 2022)

“The Middle East is like a picture, with Israel and other countries, the Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and Jordanian in the frame, but the picture is not complete without the Palestinians,” said [Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation Esawi] Frej, who was in West Palm Beach, Fla., last week to attend the Jewish Funders Network Conference.

Read the full article by Ruth Eglash in Jewish Insider.


How the Big Givers Are Looking at the Post-Pandemic Jewish World

From Jewish Telegraphic Agency (April 3, 2022)

In a good year, the annual conference of the Jewish Funders Network functions like a Jewish Aspen Institute: The Jewish fundraising elite, from private and family foundations that represent about $6 billion in annual philanthropy, gather to discuss the Next Big Ideas in Jewish life and who is going to pay for them.

And if this was hardly a good year, it was the first time in three years that the members were able to gather in person, from Sunday through Tuesday in Palm Beach, Florida. Some 540 people took part; according to JFN’s president and CEO Andrés Spokoiny, about 60% were funders themselves, and 40% professionals representing foundations and other Jewish philanthropies.

Read the full article by Andrew Silow-Carroll on the Jewish Telegraphic Agency


Takeaways From This Year’s Jewish Funders Network Conference

From eJewish Philanthropy (March 30, 2022)

Most attendees at the Jewish Funders Network International Conference, which wrapped up yesterday afternoon in Palm Beach, Fla., appeared to agree on one thing: It was nice to be back in person — to meet at the hotel bar, to have spontaneous brainstorming sessions with colleagues, to see people, as several attendees said, “in three dimensions” — not on Zoom.

Beyond that, attendees told eJewishPhilanthropy that a few trends emerged from the three-day gathering, the organization’s first in-person conference since 2019: Everyone is eager to keep aiding Ukrainian refugees. People also said they want to see more collaboration between foundations and grantees — though it’s unclear how many funders will take up JFN’s call for “participatory grant making,” which would let grantees in on funding decisions.

Read the full article by Ben Sales on eJewish Philanthropy.


Philanthropists Share Ideas, Concerns at Jewish Funders Network Conference

From the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle (March 29, 2022)

For the 500 attendees of the first in-person Jewish Funders Network conference since the pandemic, philanthropy is much more than just writing a check.

It’s collaborative, strategic and data-driven.

Read the full article by Toby Tabachnik in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle


On the Ground at the Jewish Funders Network Conference

From eJewish Philanthropy (March 29, 2022)

Yesterday was the only full day of the Jewish Funders Network conference, which kicked off Sunday afternoon and ends at lunchtime today. And while philanthropy was certainly discussed, it wouldn’t be accurate to describe the day as a niche gathering focused on the praxis and philosophy of allocating money to Jewish organizations.

Sessions throughout the day touched on subjects that wouldn’t have been out of place at any general-interest American Jewish conference. The morning plenary featuring journalists Anne Applebaum and Bret Stephens, moderated by Forward Editor-in-Chief Jodi Rudoren, was about threats to democracy — a conversation that focused mostly on Ukraine and domestic American politics. Only at the end did Rudoren draw the discussion back to what threats to democracy mean to donors.

Read the full article by Ben Sales on eJewish Philanthropy


Awardees at JFN Call for Jewish Funders to Broaden Their Reach

From eJewish Philanthropy (March 29, 2022)

The three people presented with awards at the Jewish Funders Network International Conference all encouraged Jewish philanthropists to expand their giving — and all three had slightly different suggestions for how to do so.

This article reports on highlights from the acceptance speeches delivered at the conference by Tova Katz (JJ Greenberg Memorial Award), Eitan Hersh (Ilia Salita Excellence in Research Award), and Nik Kafka (Charles Bronfman Prize).

Read the full article by Ben Sales on eJewish Philanthropy


Z3 Project Presents: Andrés Spokoiny

From Jewish Telegraphic Agency (December 1, 2021)

This Z3 2021 Futures Workshop-sponsored article is a Q&A with JFN President and CEO Andrés Spokoiny. Responding to a question on where funders’ priorities should lie both in the diaspora and in Israel he says:

You won’t have a single answer to that. One of the hallmarks of the philanthropic community today is it’s very atomized. It’s very fragmented. We joke at JFN that we have 2,500 members and 2,500 interests. So I tell you what I think, in my view, should be the focus of the philanthropic community. There should be an emphasis on Jewish content and meaning. The pandemic is going to shine a light on questions of meaning. And this is something that we don’t do in the Jewish community. We invest more in frameworks of identity and not necessarily in content.

Antisemitism is going to be a big priority for funders. That does not mean money will be well spent or that we’re going to be effective in fighting antisemitism. But I think it’s going to be a focus of many funders. What I do hope is the funders understand that fighting antisemitism is much more complicated than they think in the age of social media. The funders will need to really reflect on what works and what doesn’t.

And two more things are going to be important. One is Jewish poverty. In the pandemic, we realize that a lot of Jews are extremely vulnerable. We tend to believe that it was all taken care of, and it is not. And last but not least, I think that there’s going to be a focus on specific social issues in Israel. We’re going to really abandon the notion of giving money “to Israel.” What we’re going to be seeing are partnerships with Israeli funders and with the Israeli government to address specific issues in Israel.

Read the full article on JTA.

The Z3 Futures Workshop is a hybrid event on December 5, with components online and in Palo Alto, Calif. Andres Spokoiny will be one of the speakers there.