The Ember Foundation, while funding its own outreach program raised over 100k for six other organizations. During an unprecedented move for a small organization, The Ember Foundation, which was founded by Rabbi Yehuda Albin and a distinguished board of directors, held an inaugural event, during which they brought their significant donors to an event they organized so that six other outreach organizations could make presentations for funds.
On Tuesday evening, October 9th, following a buffet and open bar, each organization had ten minutes to present with an option, which most used, to have a student or an alum of the program speak for two of those minutes.
Everyone was moved. Although there were specific instructions that pledge cards would be filled out at the end of the program (on which the donors could choose how they wanted to direct their gift), one donor was so moved that she called out her pledge during a presentation.
The presenting organizations were also moved. Rabbi Zev Kahn, of JET, wrote in a thank you note, “thank you for an incredible and truly historic evening…. It would have taken me so long to set up meetings with all the people in that room…. [I felt that] I was not competing but a teammate of the other presenters, we enhanced each other’s opportunity to make a case for funding.” This was especially true since a large plurality of donors wanted their funds divided evenly so everyone’s speeches were creating funds for each other.
The event attracted the attention of Joseph Hyman of the Center for Entrepreneurial Jewish Philanthropy. Hyman has been running similar events on a much larger scale for many years. He was so moved that a small organization was opening up its donor base to others that he volunteered many hours to train the presenters and give other ideas.
Rabbi Albin set the tone for the evening by pointing out that he and Rabbi Lowenstein have built a friendship around Torah study — a most unusual occurrence for a Reform and an Orthodox rabbi. Moments later he pointed out that the rabbis who led these organizations and the organizations themselves share his love for every Jew. The event was truly heartwarming collection of men and women from Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and unaffiliated backgrounds.
Rabbi Yehuda Albin can be reached for further comments at YehudaAlbin@TheEmberFoundation.org or at 773.251.8509.