The momentum is building! I am pleased to report that as of today, the Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign has already raised over $2.6 million! This includes totals from our very successful Super Sunday where the average donor increase was 10% – a remarkable figure (plus, those increases will be matched dollar for dollar). This means we have closed 79% of our campaign in just 77 days. It has been our goal to quicken the pace of our campaign so we can reduce our fundraising costs and focus greater energies in the winter/spring on outreach and engagement activities. We hope to move even faster in the years ahead. In fact, last year at this time, we had raised just under $1.8 million – so we truly thank you for responding!

As we enter the final few weeks of the calendar year, we encourage everyone to make his/her pledge (keep the momentum going) and/or pay on your past commitment (although our campaign is based on pledges, it is your payments that make every service possible). We are grateful for your support as you help make Jewish Portland and the Jewish people even stronger.

To better understand the work of our Jewish Federation, please watch this new short video


Last weekend I was looking through some of my files and found notes I took at a conference in late 2012. The focus of the talk was on trends in the nonprofit world. Now that we are at least a year removed from when I took these notes, let’s see where we are.


  1. More demand for outcomes. There is a growing demand for nonprofits to 1) articulate what results they intend their work to achieve and 2) track whether those results are actually happening.  For years nonprofits have touted their work – numbers of people served and numbers of services provided. But the real focus today must be on the outcomes organizations are achieving – how are people’s lives changing because of the work nonprofits do? Nonprofits must develop their own theory of change and then measure whether that theory is becoming a reality.

  1. Less emphasis on “overhead.” I wrote about this previously and Dan Pallotta spoke about it while in Portland. Nonprofits cannot separate their programs and services from their administrative costs because they use all their resources to align financial resources, competence and mission. Organizations cannot succeed if they do not integrate their operations and money-making efforts into their mission. More and more, people are coming to realize that nonprofits cannot just invest in programs without strong professionals and good infrastructure to make those programs happen.

  1. Analyze what nonprofits do through a business lens. Nonprofits must utilize tools like financial reports, budget reviews, and fundraising net-revenue analyses in order to focus on their programs and mission. Money is an incredibly effective tool for making programs and mission happen, and nonprofits need to create and implement an integrated financial strategy that feeds into the organization’s overall plan. “Making budget” cannot be the answer if organizations want to do more.

  1. Savvier donors. In addition to increasing demand for proof of outcomes, donors are beginning to see that nonprofits require two kinds of funding – revenue and capital. Nonprofits cannot exist on revenue alone. Nonprofits must also receive infusions of capital to strengthen and grow the professionals, technology, systems, etc. It is important to recognize that without an adequate infrastructure many organizations will not survive. At the same time, can weaker nonprofits adequately address the social problems/communal challenges they are organized to solve?

  1. Note the external. Most nonprofits enjoy a core group of donors that fund delivery of the same services to the community year after year. In this ever-changing, increasingly fast paced world, nonprofits must constantly analyze the trends in the external environment (funding, other providers, community needs) and effectively adapt to those trends in order to survive and thrive. Programs and services being done today may not be needed tomorrow or perhaps they can be done better by another organization.

I am proud to share that the Jewish Federation is examining and responding to these trends. We are moving away from the unwritten rule that “charities” are doing good things that should not be questioned, to a place where we are continually asking ourselves and our communal partners whether we are making the most effective use of resources and providing real solutions. This is what you, our generous donors, are requiring. At the same time, the Jewish Federation is positioned as a “thought leader,” along with many others, in creating a stronger Jewish community for generations to come.

As we approach the (secular) new year, there is much for us to think about. The trends I mention above will most likely continue. And, at the same time, new ones will emerge. How we respond is the true challenge – because no response will get us nowhere.

Shabbat shalom.



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