In the coming months Jewish nonprofits will face many challenges. Aside from the task of creating safe and healthy spaces, the main challenges will be around money. Program revenue will be down, or gone completely. Fundraising will likely be more challenging than usual, and grants from strained government budgets tougher to get. Yet, there is an opportunity and a challenge that I believe most organizations MUST tackle, which is helping members of their communities find employment!
In the U.S the unemployment rate in April was 14.7%, the worst number since the Great Depression and projected to increase in the coming months. If you are on LinkedIn you’ve likely noticed a significant uptick in loss of employment announcements from people in your network, as well as requests to connect from people who are looking for new opportunities. All indicators show that things on the employment side are bad. In this terrible economic environment Jewish nonprofits in all categories can play a vital part in helping people get back on their feet.
Ask any employment expert and they will tell you that to find a job you need a network of people who will connect and refer you to jobs that are not listed online, and who will put in good word with the hiring manager. Jewish organizations and their members are exactly these type of networks! Remember the last time someone need a recommendation for a doctor, a travel spot, a school or a camp, and they posted this question on your shul’s or school’s WhatsApp or Facebook group? Chances are, almost immediately they got multiple responses with personal recommendations to the best service provided by someone’s friend, brother-in-law, aunt, or neighbor. For years Jewish nonprofits have been building and cultivating these community networks.
Now is the time to turn these networks into employment connection engines. Just like car manufacturers transitioned from making cars to making ventilators when the need arose; Jewish camps, schools, JCCs and shuls need to transition into job connectors. Staff members need to establish processes to solicit and create lists of people who are looking for work as well as create a visible repository of open positions submitted by members of the community. Appropriate connections can be done by staff or community members can connect to each other by themselves. The goal should be for community members to learn about job openings, and to receive a positive referral from another member if they are a fit for the position.
There are currently programs run by JCCs that provide job training and resume wiring, and while those are necessary, what is most needed right now is for organizations to be job connectors. Organizations that answer this call of duty are certain to reap future rewards. Not only is it a mitzvah to help someone with employment, but also those that are helped will have a stronger connection to the community and will more likely become financial and vocal supporters of an organization that helped them in their urgent time of need. The unemployment situation is a growing emergency and organizations need to act now to help their members!