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Jewish Life 4 min read

Community Leaders Choose Abundance

By JCC Milwaukee June 21, 2023

“Choose Abundance” Culture of Philanthropy Symposium shares common language, best practices with Wisconsin Jewish communal leaders

Through many years of partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s JCamp 180 program, professional and lay leaders at the JCC have benefited from learning and training with some of the best development practitioners in the field. These experiences brought a shared language around philanthropy – creating an agency-wide culture of philanthropy that has been a difference-maker. A key to our success is that professional and lay leaders worked and learned together.

Believing that more Jewish philanthropy for any organization benefits all of the Jewish community – “a rising tide lifts all boats” – the JCC approached our partners at Milwaukee Jewish Federation to see if we could work collaboratively to share our knowledge widely throughout the state’s Jewish agencies. Fortunately, Federation leadership shared our vision; thus began a months long planning process that culminated in “Choose Abundance: Building Our Jewish Community’s Culture of Philanthropy,” a symposium offered to our Jewish agencies free of charge.

On October 27, 100 professional and lay leaders representing more than 30 Jewish organizations throughout Wisconsin joined us at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center for a half-day of shared cohort learning, led by JCamp 180 mentor and professional fundraising consultant Laurie Herrick and former GLI program participants Cathy Samuels and Mark Shapiro. The symposium included interactive discussion, break-out sessions and a working lunch in agency cohorts – where participants had an opportunity to assess the culture of philanthropy within their own organizations. When we reconvened for a final wrap-up, many attendees shared their interest in keeping this exciting work going.

It is difficult for us to remain humble when it comes to this event; it was a game-changer for our Jewish community when talking about philanthropy. A diverse Jewish community came together – hearts and minds open – eager to learn, to share their thoughts, to meet new colleagues. The energy reverberating throughout the event exceeded our expectations.

In an evaluation distributed following the symposium, there were many positive comments shared, coupled with a desire to continue this work together. 86% of respondents told us that they would recommend the training they received to others.

One participant enthused:

This symposium was excellent for a number of reasons… Most importantly (to me) to see all the Jewish Non-profit organizations to gather as one. This could start interaction between agencies… Gathering with fellow Jewish organization leaders promotes a sense of community that does not currently exist… My imagination went wild thinking of the possibilities of what we could do as a total organization of Jewish Non-profit groups.

JCC President & CEO Mark Shapiro said that the symposium “filled me with abundant inspiration, joy, and gratitude.”

“This symposium represented the capstone project for our JCC’s “GLI” (GIFT Leadership Institute?)  learning cohort,” Shapiro continued. “Our Jewish communal leaders took a leap of faith with us, and I am truly grateful. Their enthusiasm made this event feel much more than worthwhile; it affirmed what makes our Jewish community special. It’s exciting to think about what could happen next.”

We gratefully acknowledge An Anonymous Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation and the Clarice S. Turer Charitable Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation, whose generous support made the “Choose Abundance” Culture of Philanthropy Symposium a free event for the entire community.

Click here to read more stories of impact from the 2022-23 Annual Report