Giving Compass’ Take:
• Todd J. Sukol, writing for eJewish Philanthropy, discusses the skill-building efforts that need to happen for Jewish philanthropy to be successful.
• How can all philanthropists benefit from reflection on their grantmaking practices?
• Read about Jewish philanthropy and collective responsibility.
I was pleased to read Rabbi Andy Kastner’s important call for increased professionalization in Jewish grantmaking (Jewish Grantmakers: The Futurists of Our Time, eJewishPhilanthropy, February 13, 2019). I would only add that for such an endeavor to have genuine, long-term utility, it needs to start off as something much more than utilitarian. If the will to develop professional standards and ethical guidelines for Jewish philanthropy has finally arrived (I certainly hope so), we would do well to start the process with learning, reflection and sharing.
Too often in Jewish communal life we create professional development programs from our own limited experiences, neglecting three essential activities that will contribute to the success of our work.
- Questioning what we are trying to accomplish – I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard my esteemed trustee, mentor and friend Louis M. Mayberg, an entrepreneur extraordinaire, ask the question “what are we trying to accomplish?”
- Rethinking what we know – I offer below just a few thought questions that call into question things many of us take for granted about philanthropy.
- What is philanthropy?
- What makes Jewish philanthropy inherently Jewish?
- What work can philanthropy take on effectively and what work should be left to commercial or governmental actors?
- Is philanthropy distinct from charity or is one a subset of the other?
- Learning from outside experts – We are neither the first generation nor the only ethnic group to recognize how incredibly hard it is to give money away impactfully.
Philanthropy done well requires good judgment, and judgment requires extraordinary sensitivity and a wealth of understanding, context and perspective. Any Jewish philanthropy playbook that is to be of lasting value must be rooted in deep thinking about the significance and purpose of Jewish wisdom and values, and of philanthropy itself.
Read the full article about Jewish philanthropy by Todd J. Sukol at eJewish Philanthropy
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