JCC and Federation plan ‘Culture of Philanthropy’ event – Oct. 27 symposium is expected to local organizations, lay leaders | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

JCC and Federation plan ‘Culture of Philanthropy’ event – Oct. 27 symposium is expected to local organizations, lay leaders  


The Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center and Milwaukee Jewish Federation are planning a “Culture of Philanthropy” event for local Jewish community organizations, fundraisers, and lay people, to work toward an approach to philanthropy that will greatly benefit all involved, according to organizers.  

“Choose Abundance: Building our Jewish Community’s Culture of Philanthropy,” is slated for Thursday, Oct. 27, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., in Downtown Milwaukee.  

In part, the symposium is to achieve a shift in mindset, from asking for money to asking people to invest in what you do. The event is to also help those engaged with philanthropy to speak a “shared” language, for mutual benefit. Organizers say they have seen proven results.  

The curriculum brings home some of the training that JCC president and CEO Mark Shapiro and others in the local Jewish community have personally experienced over several years. It is to be presented locally, after professional and lay leaders from the JCC worked with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s JCamp 180 programs to learn some of these best practices. Speakers are expected to attend the local, Oct. 27 event, from around the nation, including Laurie Herrick, author of “Choose Abundance: Powerful Fundraising for Nonprofits—A Culture of Philanthropy.” 

Shapiro said he approached Milwaukee Jewish Federation to partner with the JCC on the local effort, because the Federation is the center of local Jewish philanthropy and is the community convener. 

“I appreciate the JCC’s leadership thoughtfulness on community philanthropy and their desire to partner not only with the Milwaukee Jewish Federation but with all community partners. We have a shared vision, to elevate the Jewish philanthropy experience in Milwaukee for both our generous philanthropic community, and our important community institutions, and I know that participants will gain a deeper appreciation for aspirational, collaborative and impactful philanthropy through this program,” said Miryam Rosenzweig, president and CEO of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. 

“I’m very excited to come to Milwaukee to work with individuals who are leading organizations that are making a difference and who are committed to expanding their organizational capacity,” said Herrick, who is based in Massachusetts. “Starting early on in my career, I began to notice the obstacles facing not for profit organizations. I saw the way that culture, and specifically the destructive mindset of scarcity, got in the way of fundraising success. By gathering resources and lessons I’ve learned from my many teachers along the way, I’ve built a coaching approach that addresses this mindset and teaches organizational leaders how to build a culture that is more intentionally aligned with a mindset of abundance.” 

Shifting mindset has altered the overall fundraising strategy and success of countless organizations, Herrick said. 

“Whenever you talk about fundraising, and philanthropy, almost everyone gets anxious because they think it means you have to ask someone for money. And what we’re talking about has absolutely nothing to do with asking people for money,” Shapiro said.  

“As a matter of fact, I will tell you with absolute data and proof, what we have discovered is that when you are really succeeding at the key components of a culture of philanthropy … people just start giving you money; you never even asked for it. They have so much joy, from having realized that their investment into what you’re doing brings the impact that they want,” Shapiro said. 

Nationally, only a small percentage of dollars raised from Jewish philanthropists remain in the Jewish community; the rest is invested in culture, education and medical institutions according to Rosenzweig. “And yet only the Jewish community is going to invest in the Jewish community, can you imagine what we could achieve together if we could inspire a greater investment from Jewish philanthropists to Jewish needs?” she said.  She added “the data also tells us that once a gift to the Jewish community is made, in any capacity, most philanthropists will give to more than five different Jewish causes that same year. 

“We are looking for ways to not only ‘choose abundance’ for each individual organization’ but to rethink the overall trajectory of Jewish philanthropy in Milwaukee over the long run. Can we see our philanthropists as investors in many important causes and instead of competing, treating our treasured community supporters with a coordinated communal approach.” 

The Choose Abundance Symposium Steering Committee is comprised of Jewish community professionals and lay leaders: Nancy Kennedy Barnett, Elyse Cohn, Judy Coran, Joan Lubar, Mitch Moser, Max Rasansky, Rosenzweig, Sheryl Rubin, Julie Shack, and Shapiro. 

“The Culture of Philanthropy symposium being put on by the Jewish Community Center and Milwaukee Jewish Federation is a wonderful opportunity for professional and lay leaders of various Jewish organizations to spend several hours together learning, interacting, and inspiring each other, as Jewish philanthropy is so important in our community and state in our current world,” said Rasansky,  who is co-chair of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation 2023 Annual Campaign with Judy Coran. 

“The Symposium is less than one full day, purposely just several hours so the participants can conduct their normal day before and after and soak in as much important information and interaction in just a few short hours,” Rasansky added.  
Organizers say a successful cohort will include an organization’s highest levels of leaders, such as executive directors, board chairs, development directors and board officers. Invitations with details and registration information will be sent this month. The symposium is offered free of charge. Contact Lynn Beyer for more information at Lbeyer@JccMilwaukee.org.