What do the next 12 Months hold for Jewish Charities?

Charity (Jewish News)
Charity (Jewish News)

I would always marvel at my father’s routes to White Hart Lane. Some nights the route east to North London would be clear, and on others, traffic on the North Circular Road would be at a stand-still.  In pre-Waze days, his knowledge, experience and intuition defied expectations to ensure a timely arrival at Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. 

I say this since not even Nostradamus could predict the next 12 months – any more than he could traffic flows on the A406. 

Like my father, all we have to guide us is our knowledge, experience and intuition.  Only, Covid-19 is apparently the most apocalyptic event since the South Sea Bubble of 1720 of which, let’s face it, knowledge and experience is in short supply…

That just leaves intuition – so here is my ill-informed hunch about what may transpire over the next 12 months.

Once the tap of the Job Retention Scheme is turned off, 35% of all charities may be forced to merge, restructure or close. Those that survive could ultimately be forced to rely on unrestricted reserves. 

Alternatively, there could be a more compelling route based on outstanding leadership, strategic vision, collaboration, drive, and motivation. When taken together, these can achieve effective results, with a large dose of plain and simple good luck.

Leadership: This comes in all shapes and sizes. Take John, a support worker who recently saved the life of a Kisharon resident challenging the diagnosis of an experienced local GP. I suspect communal leaders will need to exhibit similar bravery to coalesce around a vision.

Through the Jewish Leadership Council an excellent start has been made with the creation of the Social Care Assistance Fund as well as partnering with Work Avenue on the Emergency Community Fund. The JLC’s approach to supporting the Jewish Homes Emergency Appeal has also been commendable. Settling on a strategic vision seems a logical next step. 

Strategic Vision:  Here is mine – a Federated Fundraising Campaign.   
A quick glance at the Board of Deputies Calendar reveals more than 60 Individual Charity Dinners were due to take place this year post lockdown.   Absent a Covid-19 vaccine, what philanthropist over a certain age will wish to risk being victim of the feared “second spike” for a rack of lamb (then again we do love our food …). 

How therefore should we respond to the current abrupt ending of the staple diet of Jewish Fundraising?

Collaboration: Collective fundraising, can work – but only if it is rigorously co-ordinated and expertly executed with Israeli-style military discipline, teamwork, ingenuity and bravery.  It will require informed investment in multi-media, risk-taking on unknown fundraising platforms, and above all integrity in decision-making to ensure protection against reputational damage.  

Drive:  How can one not be driven by the utterly amazing work that is deserving of our support and carried out in our name across our richly diverse and wonderful Jewish Community – It simply must be supported to survive and, in time, thrive.  

Motivation:  If we succeed in saving our communal infrastructure, we will be realising the most ambitious Anglo-Jewish Campaign since the JNF launch in 1901 to develop land in Ottoman Palestine for Jewish Settlement.

The prize over the next 12 months is great.  Our success in the eyes of future generations will be not be defined by what we earned – but by how we gave. 

How it will all turn out, I best leave to Nostradamus followers – for we Jews are taught of the folly of false prophecy.  Like my father, however, we will all need to rely on knowledge, experience and intuition to take destiny (G-d willing!) into our own hands.  

About the Author
Richard Franklin is chief executive of Kisharon
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