Helpful Insights From a Working Funder Collaborative

May 3, 2015

Source: eJewish Philanthropy


Recently, a group of 15 different organizations released a case study – Finding New Paths for Teen Engagement and Learning: A Funder Collaborative Leads the Way  – detailing the two-years they’ve spent working together, learning about and investing in Jewish teen education and engagement initiatives. There are a litany of insights and interesting lessons to pull from the study, which we believe are beneficial to organizations well beyond the Jewish teen education and engagement arena (and even beyond the Jewish education arena). In fact, funders in all philanthropic sectors are increasingly pooling or coordinating funding for greater impact, or to address particularly challenging social and environmental problems.


This funder collaborative – different from many others – formed early connections around research, specifically a report, Effective Strategies for Educating and Engaging Jewish Teens. There was a mutual desire of all involved to make sense of the research learnings and to determine strategic ways to move forward, fund, and implement the best practices identified in teen education and engagement.


While other collaboratives often come together on a wave of dissatisfaction or frustration, or when one funder has a single idea and wants to build support for that alone, in this instance the research created a shared learning environment. Open discussion and creative ideas were, and are, encouraged. As a result, the various local funders “around the table” have access to many voices all focused on teen education and engagement – a rarity and a real value-added for these individuals given that their organizations focus on many areas of Jewish engagement. Now, the Collaborative is their unique space for delving deeply into this specific area.


Now entering its third formal year, the Collaborative has an impressive number of accomplishments, which not all funder collaboratives can claim within such a short time: active participation by a consistent group; funding commitments for new initiatives in more than half of the participating communities; common measures of success adopted by all; and a cross-community evaluation that will aggregate data across multiple initiatives.


Collaborative members continue to address the common challenges that all communities face, regardless of unique characteristics or size, regarding Jewish teen education and engagement: how to increase it, how to sustain it when you get it, how to assess whether teens are gaining any lasting benefits. There is an excitement around being a part of something that is new, challenging, and, at least initially, effective all at the same time. And while we understand that no two funder collaboratives are alike, we believe that these insights can help other organizations who strive for deeper collaborations that simultaneously increase learning and strategic grantmaking.


Read the entire article at eJewish Philanthropy.

Updated: May. 07, 2015