Jewish Funders Network bestows prestigious award on partnership funding efforts to increase equality in Israel
TEL AVIV—Jewish Funders Network awarded the 2018 Shapiro Prize for Excellence in Philanthropic Collaboration to the Social Venture Fund for Jewish-Arab Equality and Shared Society (SVF) on 13 March, in a ceremony at JFN’s annual conference in Tel Aviv. The honor recognizes the Social Venture Fund as a collaborative and structured partnership of more than twenty funders from the United States and Israel. The fund has collectively allocated nearly $8 million to address one of the most important and sensitive issues affecting the future of Israel.
Founded in 2008, the SVF includes a mix of Federations, private foundations, and individual donors working and learning together. With all participants making substantially equivalent contributions and having an equal voice in all decisions, the SVF has developed a participatory and collaborative process that has dramatically amplified the impact of its participants’ philanthropy. Its open and transparent allocations process, guided by a clear overall vision and mission, has allowed the SVF to continually attract new partners to support efforts to create a truly equal and inclusive shared society in Israel.
“What makes the SVF partnership successful is how different funders, with a broad range of political and policy perspectives, have come together to form a harmonious ensemble,” says Wendy Rudolph, co-chair of the Social Venture Fund. “We share an overarching commitment to the mission of building shared society, but within that mission, each of the partners is actively engaged in shaping the planning, allocations, and evaluation that are the nitty-gritty work of good philanthropy. We know that we make better decisions when we listen to and learn from each other—rather than just following any one voice.”
Josh Arnow, the SVF’s other co-chair, agrees. “Working together, as a group of roughly 20 partners each year, supported by Batya Kallus, a very talented staff person on the ground in Israel, enables us to be exposed to a depth of knowledge and experience combined with a range of funding opportunities that would be difficult for a single funder to replicate on their own. Every member brings its own knowledge, perspectives and resources to the table: several of us are making multiple trips to Israel every year, gathering new insights and discovering new potential grantees to share with the group, others strengthen connections with the government and local municipalities, while others assist in strategy development or evaluation methods. In this way the SVF as a whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.”
“With this prize the funder community recognizes that collaboration is an essential feature of an effective Jewish philanthropic field,” says JFN President and CEO Andrés Spokoiny. “We all tend to think a lot about what funders’ goals are, but neglect the study of how funders can work together on process and structure success. At JFN, we’re committed to calling attention to the most innovative partnerships that are already happening in the Jewish community.”
The Social Venture Fund’s current partners include: Alan B. Slifka Foundation, Alisa and Dan Doctoroff, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Diane and Guilford Glazer Family Philanthropies, Diane and Norman Bernstein Foundation, Fohs Foundation, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, DC, Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation, Robert and Joshua Arnow, The Klarman Family Foundation, The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, The Morningstar Foundation, The Moses Feldman Family Foundation, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, Thomases Family Endowment of Youngstown, Ohio, Wendy S. Rudolph, Gandyr Foundation, The Schocken Foundation, the Rothschild Caesarea Foundation, and UJA-Federation of New York.
The Shapiro Prize, awarded biennially by Jewish Funders Network, recognizes alliances of forward-thinking Jewish funders who collaborate to have an impact in their chosen fields of interest. It was established in honor of a JFN founding board member, Sidney Shapiro, who died in 2007, and who was regarded as one of the leading lights of American Jewish philanthropy. Among his many endeavors, he served as executive director of the Boston-based Levinson Foundation, and was a funder for Lilith magazine and the Coalition for Alternatives in Jewish Education. An award with Shapiro’s name has been given by JFN since 1997. The prize was formerly called the Sidney Shapiro Tzedakah Award.
Communications Manager, Jewish Funders Network