2010 Survey of New Jewish Initiatives

Jumpstart and several American and European foundations are set to begin a broader follow up survey to the 2008 Survey of New Jewish Organizations and The Innovation Ecosystem: Emergence of a New Jewish Landscape.

The 2010 Survey of New Jewish Initiatives, which began by invitation Wednesday, will ask a number of probing questions to Jewish organizations formed over the past 10 years to find out who runs them and how they have fared during the recession.

There will be several changes to this year’s survey that make it different from the one that Jumpstart conducted in fall of 2008.

For one, the survey is now expanding to Europe. Along with its partners from he first survey, the Samuel Bronfman Foundation and Natan, Jumpstart is now working with the Pears Foundation and ROI Community of Young Jewish Innovators to figure out the innovation landscape in Europe.

Jumpstart also has opened up a Website where organizations can self register to take the survey if they quality. (You can self register here.)

And the qualifications have been altered somewhat, as it will now be open to all new initiatives encouraged to participate, regardless of budget size, instead of the $1 million cutoff from 2008. And it is open to social enterprises, not just tax-exempt charitable initiatives.

But the focus of the survey itself will change as well.

The last survey, according to Jumpstart’s co-founder Shawn Landres, was very much done out of immediate necessity, as Jumpstart and its partners quickly got together the research in around two months, just as the economy was starting to turn down. 

And in finding that investors had put some $500 million to around 350 new projects in the 10 years before that survey, Landres said that they may have preserved the budding landscape of small innovative Jewish nonprofits. 

“That study really demonstrated that this innovation ecosystem is here, it’s real, it’s serious and it is doing important work,” he said. “It came at a critical time with the economic downturn and the Madoff scandal. And a number of us had been writing op-eds about how the sky is falling, but don’t let it fall on all these startups. We got this information out to the American Jewish community in such a way that we not only invited people into the conversation about the innovation ecosystem, but we also made it impossible for people to just walk away from these projects without thinking about it.

While the first survey was about finding out exactly what organizations are out there and what they had seen in the early days of the recession, this one will focus much more attention on who exactly is running the organizations – where are they from, what is their Jewish background, their education, what is their sexual orientation, etc, with the goal of helping to figure out perhaps how one comes to start up a Jewish organization.

The idea is that the nature of Jewish organizations have changed drastically over the past several decades as Jews have stopped joining the existing establishment and have sought to figure out how to create organizations on their own that fit their Jewish needs and identity.

“It used to be that people who want to pursue a social mission would get together to advance a cause. If they were successful in getting something off the ground, they would create a board and hire an executive director. Now they become the executive directors and try to raise money to pay their salaries. It’s a very different model and has very different implications.”

Here is the press release from Jumpstart.

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2010 Survey of New Jewish Initiatives Focuses on Startup Leaders, Expands to Europe
Research Partnerships Build on Success of Innovation Ecosystem Report

Los Angeles (March 3) — Jumpstart, The Natan Fund, and The Samuel Bronfman Foundation today announced the launch of the 2010 Survey of New Jewish Initiatives.  The survey builds on the successes of the ground-breaking partnership that produced the 2008 Survey of New Jewish Organizations and The Innovation Ecosystem: Emergence of a New Jewish Landscape.  This year, it will include a special focus on the leaders of Jewish startups.  Also, for the first time, the survey will be conducted in Canada and Europe as well as the United States.

"New initiatives, whether they are independent startups or intrepreneurial ventures at established institutions, are the building blocks for 21st-century Judaism," said Shawn Landres, co-founder and CEO of Jumpstart.  "By mapping the field and profiling its leaders, we can anticipate new directions for our communities and focus our efforts where support is most needed." 

The 2010 Survey focuses on understanding the leaders of new Jewish initiatives, in addition to documenting key changes since the previous survey was conducted in November-December 2008.  The grassroots energy of "do-it-yourself Judaism" comes at the same time that broad and deep philanthropic investment has sparked the creation and growth of intensive Jewish learning programs, service and travel experiences, and other leadership development fellowships.

"Our foundation believes that developing Jewish leaders is a key aspect of fostering Jewish renaissance," noted Dana Raucher, executive director of the Samuel Bronfman Foundation.  "We hope to utilize this survey to learn about the experiences and motivations that drive people to found and lead Jewish startups."

The 2010 Survey itself introduces important innovations, in addition to this year’s focus on leadership.  For the first time, the survey is open to all Jewish startups, regardless of their budget size; reflecting new trends in social innovation, it also is open to non-tax-exempt social enterprises.  The survey’s expansion to Canada and Europe marks the first-ever transatlantic census of innovative and entrepreneurial Jewish ventures. 

Summary of key changes in the 2010 Survey of New Jewish Initiatives:

  • New self-registration site at http://survey.jewishecosystem.org/
  • Special module on the people who found and lead Jewish startups
  • New European survey includes UK and continental European initiatives 
  • North American survey now includes Canada
  • All new initiatives encouraged to participate, regardless of budget size
  • Open to social enterprises, not just tax-exempt charitable initiatives.

"The Innovation Ecosystem report has served as a rallying point for innovators and their supporters," said Felicia Herman, executive director of The Natan Fund.  "By repeating the survey now, and extending its international reach, especially in the wake of the economic crisis, we hope to help current and potential funders and nonprofit leaders make data-driven decisions that will strengthen 21st-century Jewish life." 

As previously announced, the European version of the survey will be coordinated by a new transatlantic partnership among the Pears Foundation, Jumpstart, and The ROI Community for Young Jewish Innovators.

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