Friday, June 05, 2009

I'm Confused: Fundraising is "Underdeveloped?"

Yet another Tuition Crisis article, this one in the Five Towns Jewish Times. It concerns the new initiative being led by Yeshiva University's YU’s Institute for University–School Partnership and Affordability Teams.

The conclusion reached by the affordability team is that schools need (drum roll please) MORE MONEY! The main initiatives are restoring/maintaining government funding, energy efficiency, and (you guessed it) fundraising. The article states, "At the end of the day, however, the major focus of this effort has to be generating additional funds, both from the community that sends children to that yeshiva and from the school’s traditional donor base. " Mr. Bloom, the director of planning and performance improvement on the Affordability Team, who is leading a fundraising seminar for school professionals, is on record saying “Our research has found, that fundraising is our day schools’ and yeshivas’ most underdeveloped resource.” Dr. Goldberg states, “There definitely is money out there, [it is just a matter of being out there and] asking for the money in an organized and professional way.”

I am quite sure I am coming off as rather flippant (I don't like my tone either right now), but I'm getting more and more confused. With the exception of the "no frills" types of schools out there, nearly every larger school is knee deep in "development." We have paid fundraisers, "development directors," staff paid to coordinate volunteer activities and administer volunteer/parent organized fundraising. There are parental led fundraising initiatives. There is student fundraising. Grandparents are solicited. The wealthy in a community are most certainly asked to sign onto efforts. Even students are highly involved with fundraising (a pet peeve of mine).

Perhaps techniques can be improved. But for years plenty of $$$money$$$ has been poured into "development." How in the world can "development" be so "underdeveloped?" And where is all of this money going to come from? I can tell you this: it isn't going to come from an already tapped out parent body, of which 1/3-2/3's are receiving discounts of some type. So where is this pot of gold? And, why, haven't the staff of "development directors" been able to get their hands on that pot of gold in the past 10-20 years? What will be different going forward? I'm confused.


mrmoose said...

I estimate that their are around 10,000 students in the 16 schools mentioned. That means that this energy saving initiative could potentially result in a per student saving of $75. While I do not mean to disparage the good intentions of all involved that is a band aid on a brain tumor.

ProfK said...

The frum community has gotten rather incestuous in the past decade or two--it solicits only from itself. If you are going to broaden fund raising you have to look at all those who are Jewish, not only the frum.

One shul a few years ago made a nice amount of money by contacting those who weren't necessarily religious but who still felt sufficiently connected to know that prayers should be said at a relative's yahrzeit. They said kaddish for the deceased at $150 a pop. That was out of the box and out of the community thinking. The schools need to think out of the box as well.

Anonymous said...

As long as administartors earn more than Governors and Supreme court Justices,and Rebbeim earn more than most Jews especially per hour-the non wealthy won't be able to afford Yahadus.

Anonymous said...

Is kaddish at $150 a pop really appropriate?? As far as I recall the obligation is on the relatives / mourners. If it's providing a service that's not necessary, and the customers don't know that, it's close to being a scam.

I'm sure there is a psak somewhere that this is fine and dandy, and I'm not necessarily arguing with that psak, but I feel sttrongly that funds raised under false pretenses are not doing the community any favors.

ProfK said...

Sorry, that should have been $150 a year not a pop. Daas Torah was asked and said yes. Those paying were not capable, for whatever reason, of saying kaddish themselves. Where there are no sons, or a son might not be on the derech and might not say kaddish, it has long been customary for some other male, usually in the family but not necessarily, to say kaddish on the yahrzeit.

Anonymous said...

ProfK: There are several organizations already selling saying Kiddush. I have mixed feelings about it. Telling someone who is not orthodox while they are mourning that there is a religious obligation to say Kaddish, that they will be hurting their loved ones or not helping to elevate the neshama if they don't arrange for Kaddish to be said , and, it doesn't count if a women says it might get some money in the short-term, but not a lot of long-term good will.

As far as reaching outside one's narrow community for fundraising, Chabad does a great job but they also provide services to the comunities they solicit from and give the appearance of being non-judgmental of their less observant/secular donors. Many in the orthodox world haven't figured out how to do that.

Ezzie said...

SL - I was going to say that sounds like ~100/student, which is a joke.

E-mail me when you get a chance please, this reminded me of s/t to tell you.

Miami Al said...

Fundraising is MASSIVELY underdeveloped. These schools are generally $5m - $25m annually non profit organizations, and are run with about as much seriousness as a Shul Sisterhood. Raising money means going outside the community and bringing real dollars is. It means knowing the employers of all your parents, and finding out whose employer has a charity matching program. It means locating local businesses of non-Orthodox Jews (or even non Jews), and soliciting them for support.

Our local schools all run golf tournaments. I brought a second team in that had a great time... not a Jew in the foursome. But the spender there currently sponsors teams at all the local golf tournaments (variously religious schools, not Jewish ones), and could have been cultivated into a small donor... but no effort was made because he wasn't "in the community."

I'm sure that there is a way to do Habitat for Humanity-style projects in the community where you raise money for your school AND the project, and send the kids out to fundraise from local businesses.

When I was in Boston, to participate in the Boston Marathon, you could either qualify (really hard), or represent a charity... everyone was raising a few grand for various charities that support them... If our schools had cross country teams, they could be participating in these runs and raise money for their school.

How good a job do you do contacting your alumni. I'm contacted multiple times a year by my (secular) prep school that I graduated from... sometimes I give, sometimes I'm tapped out, but you need to cultivate donors over years. Real alumni programs, reaching out to business leaders in your community for annual dinners, etc., that's doing "development." Hitting up grandparents is lazy and easy, and that's what we are doing.

When the first day schools were being set up, most of the money came from people that weren't in the community... you need to branch out. Raising more money from the same people isn't development, it's rearranging the deck chairs on the titantic...

Get a local technology company to sponsor a computer lab, things like that.

Orthonomics said...

Miami Al-In many ways you are correct. I wrote a post about weak alumni relations (of course, alumni relations have to start when the kids are in school) about 2 years ago. Knowing where each of your alumni are, possibly using them for unpaid internships/resume building experience, etc, should be basic. But it isn't being done well from what I can see. Someone from my husband's yeshiva finally put together a list of students and their emails and for the first time since graduation (not quite 20 years yet, but getting there) he personally received a solicitation by email.

I guess what I am pointing out is that there is a TON of overhead being spent on development, coordinating volunteers, fundraising. Some of that money might be just a drag on the budget if you can't do some thigns that are rather basic.

Retraining is definitely in order. But fundraising is certainly not underfunded, even if it is "underdeveloped."

ProfK said...

If you want a prime example of how reaching outside the standard frum community can bring in lots of needed money, you have only to look at Chabad and Young Israel/Aish HaTorah and other frum organizations in Las Vegas. These programs are basically bankrolled by Sheldon Edelstein of the Venetian Hotel and the Basmajian Family (Mall of America). And there are other of the hotel owners/machers who are Jewish by birth who have also donated to the frum causes. They didn't go looking for Chabad and the other groups, but when the groups came to them they gave, and still give.

But hey, that's out of town and you know what lots of New Yorkers think about out of town.

ProfK said...

Oops, sorry but that's the Ghermezian family that's Mall of America.

Commenter Abbi said...

And it's Sheldon Adelson, not Edelstein

tdr said...

Isn't Steven Spielberg a supporter of Aish HaTorah? I thought I read that once. I've often thought that our schools need to solicity real money from the likes of Spielberg to really make a dent.

I imagine that being a really effective fundraiser takes some talent and there is no reason to expect every school to have access to at least one person with that kind of talent.

I once met a womand whose job was soliciting large donations from MIT alumni. MIT was her employer. She spent a lot of time in Florida meeting these people and typical donations were in the tens of thousands. But she started with a significant budget of her own for air travel, etc AND a ready-made list of millionaires who owe a debt of gratitude to the institution she represented. Wonder how she is doing this year? I'm guessing not very well.

I think it would be hard for most schools to fundraise on this scale yet that is what most need.

Anonymous said...

People who give large sums are often very successful businesspeople. They don't just give because the cause is touchy feely. They want to give to a cause which has a successful business model, and which is able to solicit donations from its own members also. No one wants his or her donation to be flushed away. Do our schools have this kind of business model? I'm guessing that Aish and Chabad do.

mrmoose said...

I think that the reason Chabad and Aish have done a much better job of fund raising with non religious people is because they both allow people to have an ongoing taste of yidddishkiet without a lifestyle change Aish has a program where for$25,000 a year they send someone to your office to learn with you once a week and Chabad has tons of hands on activities. I have no idea how to give people a "taste" of a day school.

Unknown said...

mr. moose. Taste of day school= talmud torah programs for pub school students.

Adult education programs. Alumni programs for students who go on to public high schools (my old dayschool had 85% of kids going on to public high school).

Maintain the contact with those who leave and find substantive ways to reach out to those who can't commit full time. Seems pretty elemental to me.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Moose: I agree with your observation. People need to feel a connection AND believe that they are doing something good and important. I'm not sure how you convince non-orthodox the importance of jewish day school over other compelling charitable programs since these children will still get an education even if its not in a jewish school. That makes the connection part even more important. There may be creative ways -- for example, have after school or Sunday morning programs for non-orthodox children who go to public school. Have some adult education programs for the non-orthodox.

Anonymous said...

SA: Those are terrific ideas. However, that will require a new mind set among the schools. If they teach (and tell parents) that those who go to public school or send their kids to public school are doing something bad, then it's going to be hard to keep those people in the fold. It sounds like a few of the more RW schools not only don't know how to do marketing/public relations (or only know how to do it for a very specific audience), there is also some anti-marketing. It will be difficult for a school that might kick out or not admit a child because there is a tv or computer at home or because the mother doesn't cover her hair the right way to successfully reach out beyond their community.

mrmoose said...

another issue is the fact that in many areas their is a great deal of tension between the frum and not frum. Its going to be hard for a day school in the Five Towns to get money from people who think the Orthodox are a bunch of vulgar Brooklyn people who destroyed the neighborhood by building ugly Mcmansions and double park on Central Avenue.

ProfK said...

The day school in SI sends in student groups to local nursing homes to sing/present skits/give out goodies at Chanukah and Purim. The school doesn't make it a requirement that only frum Jews be present in the home and everyone present at the performances is welcome. The local newspaper always writes up a nice article getting the school's name in front of the public. Donations have come in from Jews of all stripes and some who aren't Jewish as well as a thank you for visiting the elderly. The kids are doing it as a chesed and the by product is that the school is looked at positively by people who otherwise don't have a connection to the school, and who would not be known about to contact for donations.

Miami Al said...

tesyaa said... "People who give large sums are often very successful businesspeople. They don't just give because the cause is touchy feely. They want to give to a cause which has a successful business model, and which is able to solicit donations from its own members also. No one wants his or her donation to be flushed away. Do our schools have this kind of business model? I'm guessing that Aish and Chabad do."

And that is the biggest source of trouble... In the Frum land, we have trained ourselves to be losers, and our organizations function that way.

My secular high school would NEVER beg for money claiming to have trouble paying the electrical bill, that's downright embarrassing. They raise money for scholarships from alumni (help others get the same experience you do), and capital funds from others (make it cutting edge). You have to cover your payroll and utilities to raise money from successful people.

Raising money for technology, language emersion (raise money from wealthy Israeli expats, don't call them Yordim) to sponser teachers from Israel to teach immersion, etc.

But yeah, if you want to raise money outside the Frum community, you need the Frum community to look like pillars of the community. If the non-Orthodox families see the Orthodox kids as well mannered, polite, and community oriented, they'd think "wow, they are great Jews, I wish I had the dedication to do it, let me help," especially if you invite them to support works that they approve of. As more and more Jews outside the Frum world (and some within it), see the Frum world more and more as vulgar Brooklynites trashing the neighborhood, it's hard to approach them.

One of our neighbors has a GORGEOUS yard that the kids love looking at, most Friday nights we take a walk and look at their yard. The gentleman's wife was working late, he saw us again, and came out to give us a tour, going over the plants, viewing angles, etc... gorgeous, his front lawn looked like a display garden. When we were chatting, he commented on how he doesn't understand how people can live in our nice neighborhood, and not want the front lawn to look good. We've been working on ours, but all the Frum lawns look barren and neglected, total white trash, and it's starting to drag down the look of the neighborhood.

I understand the virtues of modesty, but trashing the place isn't modest, it's destructive. But when the look of your house is used to hit people up for donations (and one scholarship committee busybody was fighting against scholarship money for a family because they redid their lawn), nobody wants to look too successful.

In the rest of upper middle class America, you try to look more successful than you are, because success breeds success. In Frumland, you try to look like a pauper, and when you devalue the neighborhood with it, you don't encourage good relationships.

A lot of these are long term changes, but the trends of Frum people acting worse than their neighbors is a HUGE Chillul Hashem, causes them to hold the Orthodox is a low light instead of a positive one, and is part of why we can't fundraise.

Anonymous said...

ProfK: That's a nice example. I had a relative in a nursing home. Although there were several orthodox shuls in the area, the only rabbi who regularly came was a reform rabbi who came every Friday afternoon (from a few towns away) after lunch to do an early shabbat service for the jewish residents. He brought grape juice, challah and snacks, and a guitar and stayed to play songs and sing with the residents. It was a methodist (female) minister who worked with the families to put on a seder and yom tov meals for the jewish residents. (There were about 20-25 jewish residents.) Could you imagine how much good will (and potential donors)could have been generated if any of the orthodox shuls and schools in the area took this on.

Anonymous said...

On the issue of incestuousness, will fundraising from the non-frum also lead to fundraising by the non-frum? How about being willing to work on more interdenominational projects and programs as a way to broaden the donor base?

Miami Al said...

Anonymous, "On the issue of incestuousness, will fundraising from the non-frum also lead to fundraising by the non-frum? How about being willing to work on more interdenominational projects and programs as a way to broaden the donor base?"

It's a big problematic that the massive network of Jewish charities is almost entirely funded by non-Orthodox Jews, and the Orthodox Jews showed up when there was money there to try to re-appropriate for Day Schools/Yeshivot. The Jewish Federation network was NOT Frum money, and while I agree 100% that Jewish continuity programs are more important than yet another Holocaust Memorial, you can't help but notice that the Orthodox Jews show up to get paid and not to contribute.

We need to be a part of the greater Jewish community if we want to get help when things are rough. The Orthodox are being CORRECTLY seen as takers and not givers.

Look at the recent pleas to keep Tzedakah in the community and give to schools instead of far away charities... If we were a part of things, nobody would begrudge helping us when things are rough, but we're not a part of things, we just show up to take.

The Frum vs. non-Frum animosity is becoming increasingly deserved. Manners, politeness, and a desire to contribute NEEDS to be part of Jewish ethics and education... given how prevalent it is in non-Orthodox Jews, whose families instilled that from observant families that came here, it clearly disappeared in the observant world in the last two generations.

Something in our Yeshiva system has robbed Jews of Jewish ethics... probably the obsession with learning... Learning as a PART of life can encourage good works and good deeds. Learning INSTEAD of life contributes to being good Jews about as much as sending everyone to law school would make everyone a good America.

Who thinks that lawyers are the most ethical people you meet? Why are we training ALL of our youth to be lawyers?

Thinking said...

Not one word about having built an unsustainable model? Reliance on others?
Who is running this initiative at YU? Former yeshiva administrators?

One need only to read a paper, listen to the radio or just walk down the street to understand the countries current economic situation is due to having built an unsustainable model and dishonesty. Somehow though the yeshivas have avoided this and their issues are only overspending on energy and lack of fundraising????

How can we possibly expect solutions if we can't even be honest with ourselves?

Anonymous said...

uja in bergen county gives money to all jews and jewish orginaztations from non religuios to reform etc to even rw yesivas. when maayanot was in danger of going under about 8 years ago. uja gave them a nice amount of money. when you try to get frum people to give to uja (which gives back to the community) alot dont because of many reasons ranging from i dont want my money to go to non orthodox shcools to the uja doesnt give money over the green line in israel. (its hard to get money from the yehsivish as well as the MO - but many more liberal MO will give to uja)
but as you said when it comes to take the money, you see the RW schools are willing to take it)

Pesach Sommer said...

If one is to reach out of the community, he must consider the source of that money. A yeshiva here in town is taking a major donation from Donald Sterling, the owner of the Clippers. A recent article revealed that he acts immorally both in terms of arayos, bigotry and mistreating tenants at his properties. What is the message sent when men like this are honored?

Offwinger said...

I know of a very small all-girls high school in the Northeast that has advice on its website - including sample letters and in-person approaches - for how the girls can raise scholarship money for themselves. It involves soliciting local businesses, family members, friends of grandparents, etc.

I know SL is against involving students in this process, and I'm not raising this example to get into that issue.

What is "different" about the fundraising from this school from our discussion?

Though the school has yeshivah-like tuition, it is not a yeshivah or Jewish day school. It is a non-sectarian private school created for the sole purpose of providing rigorous sport-specific training & opportunities, without compromising academics. The goal of the school is to help the student-athletes secure college scholarships & develop the skills to have a chance at the elite level in international competition (including the Olympics). They have an extremely high rate of success with the college scholarships.

How would you feel about giving money for a tuition scholarship for a teenage girl to go to this school? Or donating to this school?

What if the girl was not necessarily at that elite level - she just liked the sport a lot & wanted to train with the other girls? Would that change your answer?

What other information would you want to know about this school before you'd want to give $ for a scholarship?

What other information would you want to know about training & development for this sport before you'd give any money? Does it matter if there are no regional public schools that offer girls the chance to play this sport either at all or even at an "average" level appropriate for a top athlete?

This school I'm mentioning is very real, and I'm sure there are others like it in sports I don't know anything about. I'm bringing this up, because it forces you to ask yourself what makes a student scholarship (or a school donation) become a good charity choice in anyone's mind, especially for someone who has not had a yeshivah education or does not make this choice for his/her own children.

If you are someone who is trying to figure out how to help raise more $ for yeshivahs, but you think it is ridiculous to give for this girls' sports-friendly school, ask yourself why someone who is not religious would treat the yeshivah as something different.

Anonymous said...

Offwinger: you ask a terrific question. I imagine that the donor would have to believe both that continuity/preservation of orthodox judaism (or judaism in general if they believe that reform and conservative is not sustainable) is very important (at least as important as other charitable causes like hunger, homelessness) AND that jewish day schools are the only way to achieve that goal. They also can't see jewish day schools as being too contrary to other values that may be important to them, like teaching tolerance, respect for all denominations of jews, opportunities for girls, etc. Some secular jews might also give out of a connection with a beloved grandparent, etc. who was orthodox. I think there may be some non-oj jews who fit some of these categories, but reaching them would take a fair amount of work and creativity.

Dave said...

You'd have to manage the outreach, and at the same time, establish a solid and ongoing relationship.

Otherwise, you are vulnerable to having the relationship severed by actions by other Orthodox groups that are perceived as hostile, negative, or controversial.

It'd also probably help if they never stumbled across the comments at VIN.

Anonymous said...

Dave - how true about VIN. It should change its name to Vas is anti-outreach or Vas is anti-kiruv. If anyone across the aisle thinks that the typical commenters there are representative of OJ, then the idea of raising money from the non-orthodox is a lost cause. Unfortunately, anyone who wants to start learning more about judaism and does some internet research is likely to stumble acrosss VIN and other sites that do not reflect well on OJ. However, personal relationships can bridge some of that gap. Chabad manages to have and keep some very liberal supporters.

mrmoose said...

Pesach said...

If one is to reach out of the community, he must consider the source of that money

tragically, you have the same issue with the source of some of the money from within our community...

Anonymous said...

ProfK - But hey, that's out of town and you know what lots of New Yorkers think about out of town.[space]

The sheer number of New Yorkers makes this kind of fundraising impractical. Not because it doesn't work, but because it doesn't scale. If one organization succeeds in extracting a large donation from, say, a casino owner in Las Vegas, then in very short order, tens or hundreds of organizations will descend on that person in the hopes of also getting a large donation. And very shortly after that, the wealthy person will stop accepting meetings with new organizations (from New York) and might even stop giving to the original one as well.


Miami Al said...

Offwinger asks, "How would you feel about giving money for a tuition scholarship for a teenage girl to go to this school? Or donating to this school?"

Pretty positive. The is a clear ROI on the program, it has a great track record of getting girls college scholarships. For an athletically talented boy or girl, that doesn't play in the two "Money Sports" (Football and Men's Basketball), landing a scholarship requires active solicitation on the part of the student and coach. The "Money Sports" have scouts looking for talent, the rest are haphazard (Women's basketball slightly less so, because the scouts may watch the girl's game before the game they are going for, and notice talent and relay it back, but that's relatively haphazard).

If the girl liked the sport but wasn't serious about training and playing at the NCAA level, I wouldn't consider giving for her scholarship. A college scholarship covers 5 years (you can redshirt your first year), and a serious student-athlete can get an undergrad and sometimes a masters degree in that time frame, and helping defray the tuition for a serious effort makes sense, that's a real ROI. To just go play athlete... fine if you have wealthy parents, not fine to expect others to pay for your hobby... I'd treat it as seriously as someone asking me to raise money for their model train collecting hobby.

Someone raising money to attend REITS and pursue a career in the Rabbinate is a similar investment in their future. Someone raising money to "hang out" is more problematic.

There is a reason those fundraising for Yeshivot successfully portray themselves as for serious students interested in religious scholarship, that's a worth program. Somewhere for 18-25 year olds to hang out and avoid real life responsibilities, that's an absurd funding proposition.

A relative of mine runs basketball tournaments and workshops for serious athletes down here. They have helped inner city kids, including focusing enough on their studies to be NCAA eligible, and getting these kids into college, sometimes junior college, sometimes Division II, sometimes Division I in major programs. Is that a worthwhile charity? I think so, every year he is giving 10-15 kids a shot at going to college that otherwise would probably be in a gang and prison.

The Yeshivot for at risk kids ALSO offer a valuable service.