Friday, July 31, 2009


In my recent Post -- CATCHING UP -- there was a comment on the blind leading the blind. It was directed to the Sr. V-P UJC-Israel's (and assorted other titles) presentation of fund raising techniques to a group called the PresentTense Fellows. My observations focused on the irony of having someone who clearly lacks a background in fund raising giving a presentation on the subject. This roused Comments and responses from, among others, a PresentTense Fellow who defended FRD 101 as having had great value. (Of course the obvious question: if one knows nothing about raising money, how would one know whether what they were being taught had value. You know -- if a tree....never mind.)

Anyway, let's close this chapter with this: UJC is still blessed, all of most senior management's efforts to the contrary notwithstanding, with some professionals who have actually raised money: Yitzchak Shavit, Beverly Woznica, Susan Solow Dubin, David Saginaw. There are still a few lay leaders like Lori Klinghoffer, Rani Garfinkle and Michael Lebovitz who have solicited. If none of them were available to go to Israel or, at least train Becky Caspi (assuming she would have thought to ask), then she might have turned to Alan Gill at JDC Israel, one of the most creative and successful fund raisers with whom she probably worked for many years or Jeff Kaye, JAFI's Director General Campaign and FRD. But, not our UJC Israel Director. She went to some book -- probably Fund Raising for ....." and produced her Ten Practical Principles... And, apparently thinking them of inestimable value, reprinted them in e-jewish philanthropy. Mistake, big mistake.

So, to the leaders of PresentTense -- this wasn't about you at all. We wish you great success.



Ariel Beery said...

Richard, Becky has been a great mentor, and helped PresenTense develop its development operation such that it tripled its budget during this hard economic crisis -- not only through straight donations, but rather through learning where value is, and how to monetize that value.

She has been a coach, mentor and teacher -- a true Jewish leader who understands the importance of 'v'Shinantem l'Banekha' -- and how such shinun needs to be at the level of complexity an individual needs at the stage of their operations.

I don't know much about the UJC and its policies, but I think that it would be lucky to have more individuals with the wisdom of Becky Caspi.

And I don't know what bone you have to pick with Becky, but I hope you can see by the devotion we have to her that she does not deserve the criticism you have leveled.

Ariel Beery
Co-Director, PresenTense

Aharon Horwitz said...

Dear Richard:

This is Aharon Horwitz, one of PT's founders and directors. I've read your two related posts on our little fundraising session for the PTI09 fellows, and am still trying to understand what you found so problematic about the list posted on eJewish (other than the fact it wasn't written by one of your approved fundraisers).

In case you do plan on explaining yourself, I wanted to help by providing some context from the actual session where the instructor delivered these 10 pointers to our fellows. I'm hoping you'll realize that, considering the audience and the circumstances, those ten points actually served an important purpose.

Specifically, you should recognize that they came after a much larger and in-depth presentation about using SWOT analysis and other techniques to assess the funding potential of the projects being launched by our fellows.

Fellows, in their post-session feedback, found the tools they learned to be immensely helpful to their planning efforts. Many of them used the techniques to improve their executive summaries, and strengthen their pitches, which were seen and evaluated this summer by community foundation/organization professionals and philanthropists (some of whom are now in conversations about providing financial support or offering merger opportunities).

The 10 points in question--which the instructor pointed out were more meditations than operational principles--also served a purpose: as you can imagine, fellows launching seed stage ventures into this economic environment are deeply concerned about finding funding. Having some points of guidance and focus before beginning the search for funding was exactly the medicine they needed at that point.

I also want to point out that this person took time off her schedule to spend two hours teaching the next generation of Jewish social entrepreneurs, for absolutely no compensation or recognition. For all your criticism of the UJC, perhaps you might recognize a point of light in this fact. We and our fellows surely did.

Shabbat shalom from Jerusalem,


RWEX said...


Thanks. A big kal ha'kavod to Becky for that which she does best -- "coach, mentor and teacher" in the areas where she has the epertise to provide added value.