Gary Rosenblatt on the JFN


NY Jewish Week editor Gary Rosenblatt gave his take on the JFN conference this year.

This was the part that stuck out (at least in my mind):

There were the usual tensions, in discussions and panels, about the balance between supporting establishment Jewish organizations like federations, and innovative start-ups, which were described in one session as “the eco-system” of the Jewish future, with some 300 small nonprofits (with budgets of under $2 million a year) emerging in the last decade.

In truth, most JFN philanthropists are also among the biggest contributors to their local federations.

And there were less-discussed tensions among representatives of some of the two dozen innovative non-profits invited to display their projects and meet funders at a “venture philanthropy fair.” Several said they felt like second-class citizens while others expressed appreciation for being able to attend, even if they were not part of the full conference.

But while this conference had fewer attendees than in recent years, there was not the dark mood among the participants that some had feared. Certainly the economic crisis was the central focus of discussions, but there was a sense of inspiration, if not optimism, about a willingness of the assembled philanthropists to continue their work, with an eye toward the long-term future.

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