Books: Sounding a Call for Hope, Rebirth
In order for organizations to remain relevant, we need to recognize that younger people are moving away from organizations that manage money on a donor's behalf and instead want to be involved with organizations where donors take an active role. Too often, organizations that are stuck in an outdated mode of thinking throw up their hands in helplessness rather than expressing delight that a new generation wants to be generous, but in its own way. This is a tough lesson to learn, but it will have to be absorbed for organizations to remain –relevant.
FS: How does your book address challenges that Jewish community fundraisers are seeing in this economy?
EB: This economy will soon get better, and we can witness the signs of improvement slowly. In my book, and in many of my philanthropic endeavors, I take a long-term view. I believe that a financial crisis should not mean a crisis of vision for nonprofits, and organizations can and should do more with less.
FS: Jewish organizations often say they have trouble finding a common ground of Jewish identity to call upon. Especially for youth-oriented Jewish organizations, what's the challenge in identifying donors and volunteers? As founding chairman of Hillel, what experiences do you draw upon that can inform Jewish organizations how best to engage their donor bases?
EB: Part of a philanthropist's role should be to help empower young people who are creating programs and organizations that meet their needs. The fact that young Jews are not affiliating in the traditional ways indicates there is something wrong with our institutions, not that there is something wrong with our youth.
We have to support reinventing our institutions and their programs in order to be relevant for today's generation. We must support our young people's vision and creativity. Young people possess energy, imagination and courage to lead the way and make a difference. Where young people have begun to lead, Jewish life has seen tremendous new vitality.