The Jewish Funders Conference opened in Tel Aviv this week with over 400 leading philanthropists from around the world. The peer network of funders gather each year to learn from each other, strengthen a network that shares a vision of engaged philanthropy and work together to foster a culture of giving that reflects our values.
This year’s conference brings global philanthropists Sir Ronald Cohen of The Portland Trust and Dame Stephanie Shirley (UK Ambassador on Philanthropy) to Israel as guest speakers around a theme of “Embracing Risk: Learning from Our Mistakes.”
Sixty percent of the conference participants are Israeli, a reflection of the growth of philanthrophy in a “start-up nation” eager to catch up with the world in its culture of giving.
As philanthropists from diverse backgrounds, we draw from a rich heritage of three thousand years of Jewish giving that has transformed communities in many parts of the world.
The Jewish Funders Network is a peer learning network that offers opportunities to explore issues facing the Jewish people, grapples with thorny topics of religious pluralism and the challenges of the Israeli educational system, examines the role of women as agents of change, and encourages partnership and collaboration to better leverage our resources.
This is an exciting time for philanthropy in Israel. As Israel has evolved to a nation that produces innovative entrepreneurs, the shift in its dependence on philanthropic support from abroad is evident in the number of partnerships between Israelis and philanthropists from other Jewish communities.
Jewish giving has moved beyond nation building and security threats toward strategic philanthropy.
Leveraging our giving with government, incentivizing collaborations among nonprofits on the ground, partnering with other funders to address issues too large for a single donor to take on alone (like education reform and pluralism), require us to think outside the box and invest in a shared vision that transcends personal agendas.
Working together to strengthen a network of giving is the bridging work needed between individual and collective giving. We exercise our creativity and innovative spirit while harnessing the dynamic spirit of like-minded individuals working toward a common goal.
Networks allow us to pool resources, reduce duplication and multiply the energy to solve complex problems we face in our communities and in Israel. Through the Jewish Funders Network, we are learning to create a culture of giving that fosters common action by elevating the conversation on philanthropy.
As we enter this new world of collaboration, we see the Jewish Funders Network as a platform for change that will fuel Jewish giving for the next three thousand years.
The authors are co-chairs of the Jewish Funders Network International Conference.