A Savage idea: Hazon founder envisions a shared space for young Jewish orgs

Nigel Savage, the founder and executive director of Hazon, is trying to create a shared work space for young Jewish non-profits.

The idea behind the space, which would be called “Makom Chadash,” Hebrew for “New Place,” is that these non-profits could cut overhead costs by moving in under one roof and sharing office infrastructure and support staff; they could also share expenses on fund raising and marketing staff.

“Imagine that there was one funder for all the young Jewish non-profits,” Savage told me earlier this month when we sat down at the CAJE conference. “That funder would say, ‘I think you guys are great, but why am I paying for 17 copiers? Why am I paying for 17 servers and 17 different pieces of accounting software? Not only do I require you to save on the cost side, I also want to see you guys leveraging the front side – cross-promoting, marketing together, staff training together and [working on] development together.’”

Savage’s Hazon currently sublets space from the American Jewish World Service in a building on W. 36 St., between Fifth and Sixth avenues in Manhattan. He is eying a floor in the same building in an area that has become a corridor for Jewish non-profits.

The floor has space for about 52 staff members and could house between five and 10 Jewish organizations, he said.

Makom Chadash is a play on Bikkurim, an incubator for startup Jewish non-profits, that essentially provided them with office space and professional support.

But Makom Chadash would be for non-profits that have made it past the start-up phase and are now established – those between 3- and 25-years-old with budgets between $200,000 and $10 million. Participating groups would have to show signs of good governance and acceptance by the organized Jewish community, Savage said.

Savage estimates that Makom Chadash would cost around $8 million over the next 10 years in build-out expenses and rent.

About $5 million of that would come in rent paid by the organizations that move in, leaving the rest, about $300,000 a year, to be raised in subsidies.

He is looking for six funders to invest $50,000 per year, each. The Chais Family Foundation has signed on as an initial investor, and Savage hopes that the UJA-Federation of New York will become a funder as well.

But Savage is under a bit of a time crunch and will have to come up with his six investors in the next two or three months in order to obtain a lease on the space, he said.

Aside from sharing expenses, Savage thinks that the space could also provide a forum for sharing ideas and thoughts and for working together.

“There are tremendous opportunities for synergy,” he said. “It will be a real indictment of the organized Jewish community if we are not able to make this happen.”

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