Can You Resist Kiva’s Siren Call? (I Hope Not)

May 12, 2011


Dear Friends,

Tomorrow you will see a new entry on The New Jew, but tonight I have a special present for you. This is my first week as a lender-donor on Kiva and I’ve found it to be such an interesting, fulfilling experience. I want you to join me.

The Offer

So here’s my offer, I will give a Kiva gift card worth $25 to the first three people who comment here and say they want to try micro-lending for the first time. My only conditions- and I won’t hold you to them, it’s only a contract you are making with yourself- are that:

  1.  If you like the experience of lending, you write and tell me why
  2.  You give a gift card to someone whom you think would likewise enjoy it

So who are my top prospects right now? I’m looking at Medhi, Evelyn.

Meet Mehdi (Salam Wa Aleikum, Mehdi)

Mehdi has one day left on his loan- at time of writing, $250 is needed- to help him expand his fruit and vegetable  business. He is interested in expanding his offerings, and hopes the loan will help grow his business, and therefore help him better support his family, whom he cares deeply about.

Here’s how Kiva gets you with the urgency (see graphic). 

Note:

Funding Mehdi was my first longer term loan. Up until now, I have strongly preferred loans that are coming due in the short term (i.e. this fall). Something you should know is that all lenders are refunded at the same time, incrementally. You don’t get one final amount back at the end, but you’re refunded small amounts according to the borrower’s payment schedule, which is outlined in detail at the bottom of the screen.

— Keep Reading: Meet Evelyn; Will You Say Yes? —

Read the rest of this entry »


Jumo: Good for the Jews? (Guest Post: Tova Serkin)

December 19, 2010


Let’s get right down to it. Jumo is a new social networking platform that intends to improve the way nonprofits, organizations, and individuals communicate online.

But what value does it have given how many others options are already available? Does it offer us something beyond the benefits of Facebook? And most importantly, is it good for the Jews? I asked Tova Serkin, a leading expert in Jewish peoplehood and nonprofit fundraising to find out.

Tova’s Take on Jumo

Prospects for Jumo’s Success

I want Jumo to succeed – I really do – but I wish I were more optimistic. The newest social network to break into the field, Jumo was launched last week as a platform for those interested in social change and charitable organizations.

Created by one Facebook’s founders, Chris Hughes, the site has already garnered tremendous press – and the pressure for success is on. Because of Hughes’ extensive experience both with Facebook and Barak Obama’s online fundraising campaign expectations, also in the from of venture capital, are high.

But through my time at JGooders, I have seen first hand how difficult it is to engage even the most committed activists in e-philanthropy of any sort. Here is my take after a few days of exploring the site.

A Quick Glance

Screenshot: Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley. Best practice model for Jumo. Gives you an idea of how a Jumo page looks if you aren’t already a user

If you don’t look carefully, at first you might think Jumo was just another Facebook redesign – the similarities are multiple and conscious. Creators figure that if we are familiar and comfortable with one platform, some of that might transfer to them.

And in fact, you must have a Facebook account to use the system effectively. Essentially, social causes open pages, and users choose to follow the projects and charities that interest them. The focus is on relationship building as opposed to soliciting donations, but recognized charities in the US are able to raise funds as well.

Overall, barring some initial kinks in the Beta version, the site is clear, easy to understand and heralds a new way of interaction with organizations – at least in theory. But Jumo faces some tremendous uphill battles before it can truly take off – while on paper it the idea of building community around specific social causes is compelling, in my experience, it is virtually impossible for most organizations.

— Keep reading to learn about Jumo’s utility to Jewish organizations and for comparison shots of how one organization operates across its website, Facebook, and Jumo —

Read the rest of this entry »


Israel Needs Your Help: Forest Fire Devastates Haifa

December 3, 2010

Israel needs your help. The worst fire in the nation’s history erupted yesterday from the forests of the Carmel in Haifa.

International aid from Britain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Greece was offered almost immediately to help quench the flames as Israel’s resources were quickly depleted.

As of early Friday morning, Friends of Israel’s Fire Fighters updated:

More than 15,000 residents evacuated, flames near Haifa. Mass evacuation continues into night as fire ranges in northern Israel, thousands of Haifa residents ordered to leave homes. At least 40 dead; casualty information center reopens for first time since Second Lebanon War.

Here’s How You Can Help

Jewish National Fund (JNF)

The Jewish National Fund has established a Forest Fire Emergency Campaign.

Here’s how your donations can help- and keep in mind here how many of our physical resources were lost in the fire and that Israeli firefighting sources will need extensive funds to recuperate from the loss of equipment:

  • $100- Hose
  • $500- Helmet
  • $1,000- Hose Nozzle
  • $5,000- Masks and Tanks
  • $7,500- Camera
  • $10,000- Equipment
  • $50,000- ARV
  • $125,000- Fire Truck

The JNF has also organized an international conference call on Friday, December 3rd for 12:00 EST with CEO Russell Robinson and several of their chief executive officers, as well as Shimon Romach, Chief of the Israel Firefighters, and Tim Tidewell, US Chief of the Forest Service. Click here to register and log-in information will be sent to you.

Note also JNF’s projects to Help Alleviate Israel’s Water CrisisForest Management and Fire Prevention, and Friends of Israel’s Fire Fighters. You can learn more about them here.

— Keep Reading: Magen David Adom (Israeli Red Cross), JGooders, Role of Social Media in Breaking News —

Read the rest of this entry »


5 Powerful Fundraising Videos (and Two Bonus)

November 20, 2010

What makes you stand up and take notice- or sit down and listen for three minutes? Here are five powerful fundraising videos that are best practices models.

You may be asking how I can call these “fundraising videos” if not a single one asks for money? My answer is that each one is a powerful motivator that brings you to a new place in your thinking about the issue, the organization, and the mission after watching. Friend-raising comes first; fundraising follows.

Other than this introduction and the source information, this is a textless entry. I encourage you to share your own favorites in the comments section or by posting at The New Jew: Microblog on Facebook. I look forward to adding a best practice sections to both this site and the microblog shortly.

Note of Exclusion:  Unpacking the White Knapsack

I chose not to include videos which feature:

  • A white spokesperson for a cause in the developing world
  • Celebrities
  • Focus on poverty and not people

For me these three items detract from the issue at hand. The point isn’t to relate to a person you’re familiar with (pretty woman, middle class white man), but to go beyond and connect with the real people whom the issues affect. I’ve chosen here films that support sustainable community growth and empowerment- and lay the gauntlet forth in doing so. Many a strong contender was excluded for an overemphasis on a Western or white perspective.

* For more information read Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” (PDF, 4 pages).

Videos

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies present “The Shelter Effect” (3:57, 2,850 hits)

The Girl Effect presents “The Girl Effect” (2:23, 676,500 hits)

Companion video: “The Clock is Ticking” (3:05, 209,500 hits)

—   Click Through to See Most Best Practice Videos   —

Read the rest of this entry »


ROI, I Love You, But…

July 9, 2010

Broken Heart of Social Media

This could have been my love letter to ROI.  But it’s not. I’m frustrated. ROI, you can do better and I want to lay out a basic outline of how.

Social Media Bonanza

If you’re not familiar with ROI, this organization is focused around an annual global summit of young Jewish innovators. It is supported by a PR company that does advance media, a blog, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, a Flickr account, and a Twitter feed as well as hashtag– all linked here.

So what could I possibly be complaining about? They have all their bases covered, right?

Well, no. I don’t think they fully practice what they preach– and I’m saying this as a 2009 ROI fellow as well as someone who has been in contact with ROI offering them my support on numerous occasions with regard to social media and web content. I’m saying this out of love: ROI, you can do better.

What’s the Problem, Exactly?

The two primary problems I identify are as follows:

  • There’s a disconnect between the Summit and the rest of the year, and
  • A disconnect between those actively participating in the Summit and those on the outside

With all the excitement generated for the Summit, there’s no carry through for those who aren’t participating. The ROI blog is updated minimally and there don’t seem to be many blog posts coming from participants– which makes sense because they’re really, really busy.

The primary way to follow the Summit is via ROI’s hashtag, which is #roicom. But how much can you really say in 152 characters? Well, I believe that you can get your point across quite effectively, but it has to be a concerted effort: not just comments but actual commentary.

— Now you have an idea of the problem. Keep reading to hear the solution. —

Read the rest of this entry »


Why Israelis Don’t Give– Or Do They?

June 18, 2010

Shekels Credited to "MichaelPlump" on Flickr

Earlier today I posted a link on The New Jew: Microblog to an article in Ha’aretz called “Why Israelis Don’t Donate.” We got a good conversation going and I wanted to highlight the ideas that we discussed.

So, according to the author, Lior Dattel, why don’t Israelis donate? He provides three reasons:

  • Governance: there’s no incentive in the tax structure
  • History: Diaspora giving heavily outweighs national giving
  • Social: Little personal culture of giving, as evidenced by low numbers of volunteerism and personal giving

What the Author Missed

But readers, is this valid? Two of my commenters, Joe Brown Leer and Shai Litt thought otherwise.

Joe writes:

“The first and foremost issue is that of taxation. In Israel, where taxes reach almost 50% for those who you would want to be giving your “regular” donations (the “standard small” donors of over $1,000 a year to a cause) mean that they don’t have the luxury to be giving MORE to society.

It’s not just that there’s no incentive – there’s a NEGATIVE incentive when taxes are that high.”

He adds:

“… ‘Little personal culture’ does not take into account the issue of compulsory army service, and its effect on the balance of  ‘how much have I given the country already.'”

Shai remarks:

“Under the circumstances, Israelis are a pretty generous people.

But I’d add – Wouldn’t it be that the ‘socialist’ mind-set is that you donate to the government so that THEY can do the things that you’d donate to voluntarily that causes the perceived shortfall between what is and what we’d expect?

This first occurred to me a few years ago when I spoke to an Israeli (a man I respect a great deal, by the way, as an idealist in the realm of architecture and city planning) about volunteerism here (in conjunction with my Bronfman project that was first described on your original blog) and he said, ‘I think you American’s have it wrong – you shouldn’t be taking the role of government – you’re allowing the government to get away with not doing it’s job. I won’t give money to beggars because the government should be taking care of them, not me. ‘”

— Continue reading: Can we measure Israelis and Americans by the same standards of giving? —

Read the rest of this entry »


Jewish/Israel News: All the News That’s Fit to Tweet

October 21, 2009
Source: Flickr, Just.Luc

Source: Flickr, Just.Luc

The air is popping, molecules are dancing, you can practically feel the crackle in the air– alive with energy in the world of Jewish philanthropy and innovation. The New Jew is here to bring you the news that can’t be missed.

Israel

  • Israel President’s Conference— Today is the first day of the 2nd annual President’s Conference, founded by President Shimon Peres. This year’s theme is “Tomorrow’s Future.” To get live updates on Twitter, click on this link where I have collected all the relevant resources for you

(Flickr photo link via Just.Luc, Creative Commons)

In the Media

TNJ_ReportsWOBordersIndex_20Oct09

  • Free Press Index— Israel’s Free Press Rank plummets on Reporters Without Borders’ index due to tightened government control over the media during Operation Cast Lead (Gaza 2008/2009) and during the elections. Israel dropped 43 places to #93. (The US is #20, up from #40 last year)
  • Human Rights Watch: Anti-Israel— In this New York Times op-ed, Robert L. Bernstein, former chairman of HRW criticizes the group for repeatedly singling out Israel for human rights violations without holding other Middle Eastern countries to equivalent standards
  • Shalom, Al Jazeera— An Egyptian newspaper broke the story that Israeli billionaire Haim Saban was set to acquire the Arab world’s news station. The story is yet unconfirmed
  • Palestinian Jews? It’s not Pre-State Deja Vu— The Wall Street Journal’s James Woolsey asks if we have Israeli Arabs why can’t there by Palestinian Jews?
  • Our Israel? — A raging debate between The Forward’s Jay Michaelson and the Shalem Center’s Daniel Gordis centers on the question of how we perceive Israel as a Jewish state and as our state. Michaelson complains: “My love of Israel has turned into a series of equivocations,” in reference to his stance toward Israeli politics, peace, and Palestinians. Gordis counters, “But you know what I love about this place, Jay?  I love that all the political baggage is mine.” (Don’t forget to read the comments as well)

Jewish Connectivity

TNJ_Birthright.LogoSquare_20Oct09

  • Assessing Birthright Israel— It’s been 10 years. Where does Taglit-Birthright Israel stand after a decade of hard work? Here are the statistics: Birthright has brought 200,000 young Jews to Israel so far– 10,000 will come this winter. Philanthropic  dollars: $80 million raised: 55% from individuals; 22% from Jewish communities and the Jewish Agency; 23% from the Israeli government

— Interested in Jewish Connectivity, Israeli Technology & the Environment, Israel’s Economy & the Jewish Community Landscape, Innovation & Education? Read on. —

Read the rest of this entry »