The Jewish philanthropic sector is valued in the billions of dollars. It is, literally, a very big business. It is comprised of organizations and individuals dedicated to the highest forms of tzedakah and good works that together have significant impact and worldwide reach.
At its core, there is a recurring dynamic that drives the players: Charitable organizations must find donors interested in funding the organization’s efforts, and funders want to find nonprofits that match their philanthropic goals. Last week saw the launch of a tool that has the potential to make the nonprofit sector more efficient, more effective and even more consequential, through a partnership between the Jewish Funders Network and impala, a nonprofit sector digital database.
Founded in 1990, JFN has more than 2,500 members. Its ranks include private foundations and individual philanthropists in the United States, Israel and nine other countries. JFN works not just to promote giving, but also enables and encourages the exchange of ideas in order to maximize the impact of philanthropic giving. JFN’s meetings and conferences give those in the Jewish nonprofit world the opportunity to come together, share ideas and walk away energized. This year’s conference will be held next month in Phoenix.
Impala is a digital database that assembles publicly available information on millions of foundations and nonprofits. It collects data by scraping details from each entity’s IRS 990 forms, annual reports and websites. With such a reservoir of information available to it, any philanthropic organization or donor faces a much less daunting chore of researching and connecting with potential partners interested in or devoted to the very idea or sector the searcher is looking for.
According to a recent article in eJewish Philanthropy, impala will offer free subscriptions to members of the Jewish Funders Network and their grantees for two years. The free subscriptions almost guarantee a significant mining of impala’s data. Should usage drop off when the free subscriptions lapse, it will be another lesson learned. But for now, the Jewish nonprofit world is taking this opportunity seriously. The Jim Joseph Foundation, the Glazer Foundation, DARE Foundation and JFN’s board chair, Marcia Riklis, have pledged $525,000 to fund the project.
Our community is constantly searching for new and innovative ways to tackle the challenges we face. The planned cooperation between JFN and impala could help develop connections to address many of those issues and could be of great value.
Free access to the impala database for organizations and donors opens myriad partnering opportunities to help the people and causes that the nonprofit community exists to serve. We applaud this win-win development, commend the philanthropists who have committed to fund it and look forward to reports of significant successes from this exciting opportunity. ■