Stories From Our Successful Campaigns: MyMDband for Holocaust Survivors

Through the years, we have had a lot of successful campaigns on Jewcer. We wanted to share their stories and what they learned while crowdfunding with us. Our next interview comes from Elly Gorodetzer and Gidon Rogers, co-founders of MyMDband. They raised over $70,000 on Jewcer for an absolutely incredible cause: providing free MyMDbands for Holocaust survivors.

1. Tell us about MyMDBand for Holocaust Survivors? What inspired it?

MyMDband for Holocaust Survivors is a project that connects an innovative Israeli start-up with Holocaust survivors in Israel, by granting them with MyMDband’s lifesaving medical bracelets, for free, for life. This is a fully non- profit partnership between MyMDband and United Hatzalah of Israel. There are nearly 200,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today. Between what they had to endure in their youth and their advancing age, many of them have health problems that threaten their lives. 25% of them live below the poverty line, and many don’t have family nearby to care for them. All of them deserve our help. In an emergency medical situation, every second counts. The time it takes a first-responder to diagnose and render assistance can mean the difference between life and death. We are making it easier and faster for emergency responders and medical professionals to understand patients’ health history, conditions, allergies and medications in seconds. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the survivors of the Shoah. This is our way of giving back.

2. What piece of advice from the Jewcer team stuck with you the most that you can remember?

How copywriting is important to articulate a message properly.

3. How did you promote your campaign? What was the most challenging aspect?

The hardest part is getting people motivated to take action and donate, in a noisy internet and media reality. The Jewcer team, together with other campaign partners, helped us tremendously by demonstrating the power of engagement by their communities.

4. Is there any advice you’d give for those considering crowdfunding?

Piece of advice – always strive to partner with as many organizations who are aligned with your interests, and can facilitate in reaching out and motivating people. So, try to be as “B2B” as possible, and not “B2C”.

5. After successfully getting funded, how have you been using the funds towards your project?

Together with United Hatzala of Israel, we have been going around the country supplying, free of charge, our MyMDbands including professional population of the relevant medical data. We have also been training ER staff in several hospitals to understand how they can provide better care with MyMDband. All of those are documented, among other activities, in our project website.

6. What are your three favorite online or mobile tools that help you run your crowdfunding campaign?

Websites & newsletters for promotion, and twitter for listening.

7. If you had to choose a one-liner piece of advice for aspiring Jewish entrepreneurs, what would it be?

Don’t give up! It’s usually a long journey with great challenges. Cash is king! Always plan your cash flow and adjust wisely as you go.

8. Add a question of your own that we did not ask and give the answer to it…

What’s the next step for this beautiful project?

There’s a big next step, and you can help with a click of a button! We are applying for WeWork’s Creative Awards, in Israel, for a prize of $360,000. This is a huge opportunity for us, and would be happy for any support on social media, and letting WeWork Israel know how much you thing we deserve this grant. Needless to say, all funds allotted to us will be used completely to fund further distribution of our MyMDband medical bracelets to Holocaust survivors, in Israel. Learn more here.

To stay connected with news and updated from MyMDBand, check out their Facebook, TwitterHolocaust Survivors Website, & MyMDBand website.

 

 

Shani
Shani is a photographer and content creator from Los Angeles. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a Communication degree, which she puts to good use by connecting with all the incredible Jewish organizations and the people who support them. With a deep pride in her Jewish roots and an Israeli background, Shani hopes to share the power and potential of Jewish innovation and connection with the world.

Growth, Sin and Forgiveness: Why Yom Kippur is Necessary in Today’s World

“You know what’s interesting about Yom Kippur?” my father told me on a Connecticut road, “It’s the only holiday that hasn’t been successfully commercialized.”

Ever since I began to fully grasp the concept of Yom Kippur at age ten, the holiday remains one apart from all others, Jewish and otherwise. For one day a year, I was deemed perfect with all past imperfections having vanished (with a handful of caveats laid out in the Talmud).

On that day, I felt the past year play back to me in my photographic memory with each sin laid forth in the liturgy, all the while wondering which great victories would come to me in the coming year. The relative lack of symbolism present in other holidays like Rosh HaShanah and Pesach meant that I and other worshipers could truly focus on the state of the world, our communities, and our lives and realize what could be done to prevent an evil decree for the coming year. Yom Kippur has a relative lack of material props – without matzah, bonfires, apples and honey, nor sacred species (or food of any sort, for that matter).

When I walked away from Jewish Orthodoxy in the early 2010’s, one great pain I felt in my coming to doubt religion was the idea that the world is a judgmental and unforgiving place. This idea was re-enforced by norms of educational systems and ruthless testing and, very much unlike my childhood self, my young adult self was less forgiving of myself than any Divine Being full of mercy could be.

After getting Lyme Disease and recovering under circumstances contrary to expectation, I took on the life of an entrepreneur and freelancer and, before long, I realized that – contrary to what I had heard in Hebrew Days Schools and taken in from secular schools – mistakes were not only necessary for growth, but essential.

There is a catch, however…. With each set of errors, there has to come a time – sooner rather than later – in which the negative sides of oneself are laid out with vulnerability and, thereby, cast into the river, much like the bread crumbs in tashlich.  True growth doesn’t happen with avoiding kheyt, avon and pesha altogether, but, rather, recognizing their existence and realizing that they should be taken in and, thereby, disposed of. (There is also recognition throughout Talmudic writings that the yeytzer hara can present spiritual and growth opportunities if harnessed correctly).

When I was a kid in Jewish day school, I thought that sins of any sort made me a terrible person, that they would somehow forever lock me out of the World to Come if I did the wrong thing. As an adult, I realize that missteps are a necessary requisite for gaining opportunities for growth, healing and peace. As a student, I was afraid of making mistakes of any sort, but once I left the school system and became someone with my own visions as my first priority, I came to know that no great story anywhere happened without slip-ups or mistakes.

However, in the backdrop of all of this, there was this holy idea that forgiveness, improvement, and reflection is always an option, and that, once a year, the errors of one’s past selves will be left to the past, never to return. Upon closer inspection of the many stories in the Bible, it seems that God, Himself, isn’t above a journey of self-improvement.

May this Yom Kippur be a reflection and a turning point that you remember well!

jared.gimbel
Jared Gimbel teaches Jewish and Nordic languages and also sometimes works as a seasonal synagogue cantor. Having mastered 18+ languages spanning almost all continents, he also works as a translator from various languages into English. His new video game, “Kaverini: Nuuk Adventures”, a cartoon adventure game set in contemporary Greenland, is set for release in 2018. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

When The Cab Driver is Elijah the Prophet: The Accidental Jewish Entrepreneur (Part 2)

This story is the second in a series called the “The Accidental Jewish Entrepeneur“, profiling Jews in unexpected places whose innovations and ideas change their communities for good. The second story comes to us from a traveler in Los Angeles, California:

I was visited by three prophets this Jewish New Year. They were not the people pouring off the sheet of the Torah scroll – no. Nor were they the righteous and G-d-fearing ancestors I encountered in the pages of my siddur.

Rather, they were the unlikely prophets – cab drivers – who ushered me to and from the airport. And though I pined for self-serving redemption this season, I quickly got more than I bargained for.

For, as I listened to each driver, I saw that the world’s creation and destruction rests in the hands that one human being offers the next. The locus of this season is with others. It is not, nor has it ever been, all about us.

The drivers’ stories bear this out.

First, there was Hannah, sleep-deprived and strapped for cash, who offered free childcare to a single mother in her building, a woman her whole community had all but written off and maligned. She knew that, by being there as needed, she could ease this woman’s way and raise her community to everything it ought to be.

Then, there was Abraham who traded his corner office for an Elijah-themed YouTube series (spoiler alert: He has a brother named Kevin and a Jewish mother-in-law who venture with him around the streets of Los Angeles), gleefully peeling off his power suit after thirteen years of a legal practice that weighed like bricks upon his soul. He saw the state of the world and proceeded to dedicate his life to making others laugh and hearing their stories in his cab.

And finally, Isaac, witness to his daughter’s personal annihilation, who made the unspeakably gut-wrenching decision to stop giving to her at all. And mysteriously, what he gave her was the “gift of her own sobriety.” A year later, she had made a personal journey from g’nut to shevach (degradation to redemption).

The Jewish New Year brings out all the grappling of our seeking and striving souls. We are given license by our tradition to define our personal purpose, destruction, and road to redemption. But, though we may be tempted and – let’s be honest – mandated, to go full-blown self-referential when we experience time, this year, entrepreneurs can do more.

We can enter this time of reflection with a view to relinquishing the focus on ourselves. We can look around us to friends, to neighbors, and even total strangers, picturing our lives with others in it and being even more mindful of these people’s essential needs. Furthermore, we can take a greater leap, still: we can become so attuned to the lifespans and story webs of everyone else, that we stop utilizing the holiday to only make sense of our own worldview and experience.

Rather, we can use these times to encounter everyone else.

This New Year, consider:

1. How can you work with others in a way that goes above and beyond what you need from them?

2. How can you redistribute work and leadership to highlight other people’s leadership, capacity, and creativity?

3. How can you create a shared vision alongside others that widens the impact of your venture not only on employees, but on your community and even, more broadly, humanity?

Our Jewish lives, let alone our entrepreneurial ones, are not measured by the solo journey of a hopelessly longing self, but by the broader encounter with the unexpected one who arrives every so often and reminds us that being human should mean something and someone more than merely us.

Rarely are entrepreneurs, let alone Jews, awed and changed by what we do for ourselves but, rather, what we choose to give away.

Devon Spier
Devon Spier is a rabbinical student and spiritual entrepreneur. Over the last decade, she has made her home in the small suburban shtetl of Kitchener-Waterloo, where she supports the leadership of Jewish young professionals, children, new mums and donors so that they may lead in innovative ways that raise up the institutions to which they belong.

Top Entrepreneurs Who Didn’t Get a Business Degree

Many people wonder if they can succeed in the business world without a business degree. Well, we’re here to tell you that there are plenty of successful people out there who never earned a business degree–some never even finished high school! The world is out there for your taking. If you’ve got the passion and the drive, anything is possible, degree or not.

 Coco Chanel – Chanel

“In 1910, she opened her first business, a hat shop, also in Paris. She later established boutiques in Biarritz and Deauville, this time making and selling clothes. Her designs were hugely successful and, by the 1920s, Coco had debuted her iconic perfume: Chanel No. 5. Five years later, she launched the classic Chanel suit (the collarless jacket and fitted skirt). Coco is notably the only fashion designer on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. She is credited with liberating women of the early 20th century from the confines of the corset, and introducing simpler fashion, lines and fabrics that endure today.” –(Daily Worth)

 

Howard Schultz – Starbucks

“Brooklyn native Schultz attended Northern Michigan University on a football scholarship and earned a degree in communications. After graduation, he started working in the coffee business as a salesman for Hammarplast, which sold European coffee makers in the U.S. Eventually, he became the company’s director of sales, which was when he discovered a small Seattle chain called Starbucks. In 1982, he joined Starbucks and the rest is history.” –(USA Today)

 

 

Alexa Hirschfeld – Paperless Post

“Hirschfeld recieved a B.A. degree in Classics at Harvard University in 2006. The e-vite service was conceived in 2007 by her younger brother, James, while the Harvard undergrad was planning his 21st birthday party. He then called his sister, who had planned to leave her first job as an editorial assistant at CBS, where she was often stuck opening mail. ‘I wanted to be in something that was not figured out yet,’ Alexa said in a 2011 interview with Cosmopolitan. ‘I imagined that if I were, there would be more room for creativity.’–(TIME)

 

 

Matt Mullenweg – WordPress

“Matt Mullenweg started WordPress, which now powers around 22% of the web, yet he dropped out of college and began working at CNET Networks from 2004 to 2005, before quitting that to found Automattic, the business behind WordPress.com.”–(Gentleman’s Journal)

 

Oprah Winfrey – The Oprah Winfrey Show

“Oprah was offered [a] job as an on-air reporter in Baltimore. The only problem was that the job started a few months before her graduation. Ultimately, she chose the job (from which she was fired), sacrificing her communications and performing arts degree. She soldiered on, working a morning talk show in Baltimore and then hosting another in Chicago before hitting the big time. The Oprah Winfrey Show was the highest-rated talk show in American history, earning 17 Daytime Emmys. She was named the richest African-American of the 20th century by Forbes in 2009 and is one of only two black female billionaires in the world.” –(Daily Worth)

David Karp – Tumblr

“The creator of Tumblr (the 9th most visited site in the US), despite never even graduating high school. He had dropped out of Bronx Science high school in 2001 to be home-schooled, and never received a high school diploma. Karp is now worth an estimated $200 million.”–(Gentleman’s Journal)

 

 

 

 

Sara Blakely – Spanx

“A onetime door-to-door fax machine salesperson, Sara Blakely invested $5,000 to come up with something to wear under white slacks. She initially shilled her new invention, which became shapewear brand Spanx, on the sales floor at various Neiman Marcus stores. In 2000, Oprah Winfrey called to add Spanx to her famous Favorite Things episode. Today, Spanx sells its undergarments, leggings, and maternity wear in 65 countries. “–(Forbes)

 

 

 

 

 

Shani
Shani is a photographer and content creator from Los Angeles. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a Communication degree, which she puts to good use by connecting with all the incredible Jewish organizations and the people who support them. With a deep pride in her Jewish roots and an Israeli background, Shani hopes to share the power and potential of Jewish innovation and connection with the world.

Shofar, So Good: Rosh HaShanah & Entrepreneurship

A year behind, and a year slated to almost immediately be beginning. While entrepreneurs appreciate and boast accordingly about their often non-traditional work schedules, the Jewish New Year is the same calendar date and time for everybody.

Rosh HaShanah translates into English as the “Head of the Year”. Head inferring the top, or start, where things flow from, like every new beginning does. While entrepreneurs often seek to drive and create change, serving a fish or ram head as part of the holiday meal is definitely a tradition where there’s not been much disruption. As entrepreneurs “eyeing a good opportunity” is what we frequently do best, and the experience of enjoying the symbolic concept of “thinking with your head”, “taking a bite out of the year to come”, “good thoughts for a good year”, or even the “seeing the year you want” can all be important takeaways that this reminder teaches us about “seeing things through”!

Throughout 5777/2017, my work with ReJews Recycling took many turns. Fortunate to receive and renew a number of corporate sponsors and inclusion by foundations and other nonprofits, we should be our own harshest critics, but also our own biggest fans. Reflecting on our work, the success, progress, and even failures that we’ve experienced in a year, it is a major Jewish teaching that we realize “all is for the best”, and “we are where we are supposed to be”, but neither of these pills is always easy to swallow.

Even throughout many of our happiest moments, many can identify what could have been better. The teaching here is “what we can do better”. When I founded the ReJews Recycling nonprofit sustainability and social entrepreneurship organization that is dedicated to helping promote recycling initiatives across the Jewish world, people thought and said many things of it.

Why not stop global warming? Why not save the polar bears? Why not save the rain forests? These were (and still are) questions I often hear, and the answer to any of them is not the point. Affirming your purpose, and working to achieve your goals is what matters. With ReJews Recycling often hosting events as co-hosts with other local community groups, I set out to welcome a number of major, globally recognizable brands to sponsor much of the programming. Incredibly inspired the by unwavering support that ReJews has received from Google, GoDaddy, MillerCoors, Glatt Mart, Sesame, Kold Kuts, the UJA, and the Schusterman Foundation, even I can still consider the question that we can all ask ourselves, “what can we do better”?

This idea is called Teshuvah. It’s often translated as repentance, but teshuvah is really more of a distancing ourselves from mistakes in the past. We all have the power to change our ways as we move forward towards how we go about our own decision making, and the true ultimate judgement.

Rosh HaShanah is the Day of Judgement. While there are an infinite number of deeply meaningful and spiritually moving insights on the significance of what Rosh HaShanah truly is, it’s celebrated widely with festive meals, and, across the world marketed with Happy Jewish New Year greeting cards and Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Instagram posts. You can’t forget Instagram.

No matter the new beginning you pursue, how we connect with our goals should be about how our values guide us. The way that we represent our experiences lead us to, and in part even determine the types of problems we can solve, behaviors we can change, and connections we can build, so whether you want to start a new business, or just be better at networking, get out there, represent your goals, and build real connections when meeting new people. I suppose that’s why JSwipe connects with Instagram. You know what? Forget Instagram.
Pursue your beliefs, and spread the good that we may all be fortunate to be Blessed with!

L’Shanah Habah & Shanah Tova!
– Henry
Henry Goodelman
Henry Goodelman has dedicated his career to supporting student and institutional success on college campuses. Leading people through their academic coursework, personal development, professional coaching, business operations, corporate relationships, and community building initiatives, Henry was inspired to help create a new social movement while learning and working at Aish HaTorah, and is fortunate to have founded the ReJews Recycling sustainability and social entrepreneurship nonprofit organization.

Stories from Our Successful Campaigns: “We Will Overcome”

Through the years, we have had a lot of successful campaigns on Jewcer. We wanted to share their stories and what they learned while crowdfunding with us. Our next interview comes from Charlie Kramer, a Jewish musician who funded his debut EP to spark change. He was able to raise $11,000 and, by the way, his EP just dropped! Check it out.

1. Tell us about “We Will Overcome”? What inspired it?

We Will Overcome is a 5-song EP of Jewish folk rock. The record celebrates the struggles we face individually, within our communities and throughout our world, and how we can utilize these struggles as a source of personal and communal betterment. Half of the songs were written while I was abroad, working with the good people of Temple Beth Israel in Melbourne, Australia. The other half was written back in my home town of Los Angeles. In both spaces, I was deeply struggling with the political climate of the world. These songs were my personal source of healing and it is my prayer that they can be a source of healing for the listener as well.

2. What piece of advice from the Jewcer team stuck with you the most that you can remember?

“Never be afraid to ask.” It’s challenging to be so continuously vulnerable during the campaign process, but it is so important to push through the feeling of discomfort. You never know who will know the answer unless you ask!

3. How did you promote your campaign? What was the most challenging aspect?

I promoted my campaign largely through social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram. Yet, I quickly learned that the best way to achieve my goal was to reach out to people on a more personal level. I then set aside time each day to send people personal (and original) messages either through text, Facebook messenger or through email to ask for their support. This extra effort to personalize the interactions I had with my supporters made a significant difference. I can’t recommend doing this enough.

4. Is there any advice you’d give for those considering crowdfunding?

Don’t be afraid to keep posting and messaging (and posting and messaging…)! There will definitely be a point where you may feel like you are bothering your friends and family. But, it is important to remember that we all live very different lives and not everyone will see your posts and messages. The people who want to support you will appreciate the reminder!

5. After successfully getting funded, how have you been using the funds towards your project?

I used the funds to pay for studio time, my producer, musicians to play on the record, mixing, mastering, album artwork, printing CD’s, submitting the EP to online distributors and creating the music video for the record’s single, ‘Closer’.

6. What are your three favorite online or mobile tools that help you run your crowdfunding campaign?

1). Mailchimp/Constant Contact. The ability to make your emails interactive with easy-to-follow links and photos help to tell a deeper part of your story to potential supporters.

2). Facebook is a star. Not because of the posting it allows you to do, but because of the personal interactions it allows you to have with all of your friends. I found the resource of Facebook Messenger to be my biggest tool in achieving my goal.

3). My phone. Nothing is more beneficial than calling or texting people personally.

7. If you had to choose a one-liner piece of advice for aspiring Jewish entrepreneurs, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to change the world, it deserves your help.

8. Add a question of your own that we did not ask and give the answer to it…

How often did you interact with your supporters after the campaign’s completion, but before the project’s release?

After the campaign’s completion, I sent at least one Mailchimp/Constant Contact email a month to everyone who contributed to my campaign. In the emails, I would update everyone on the recording process, send pictures and even videos. I felt it was important to keep everyone who supported me involved in the entire process.

 

 

 

If you’d like to follow Charlie, you can check him out on Youtube, Facebook, and SoundCloud.

 

 

Shani
Shani is a photographer and content creator from Los Angeles. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a Communication degree, which she puts to good use by connecting with all the incredible Jewish organizations and the people who support them. With a deep pride in her Jewish roots and an Israeli background, Shani hopes to share the power and potential of Jewish innovation and connection with the world.

Questions to Ask Before Giving Up

Some days you just feel really awful. Whatever project you’re working on, whatever job is paying the bills, whatever stresses life has on you…It feels like a constant uphill battle and you just feel like giving up. Thankfully the internet is full of wonderful and inspiring ways to stay motivated. Whenever I start to feel this way, I like to refer to this list of “questions to ask before giving up”. This was originally published on a now famous tumblr that has been reblogged over 150,000 times. So I guess I’m not the only one who finds it motivational. Hope you will too!

Are you hydrated? If not, have a glass of water.

Have you eaten in the past three hours? If not, get some food — something with protein, not just simple carbs. Perhaps some nuts or hummus?

Have you showered in the past day? If not, take a shower right now.

If daytime: are you dressed? If not, put on clean clothes that aren’t pajamas. Give yourself permission to wear something special, whether it’s a funny t-shirt or a pretty dress.

If nighttime: are you sleepy and fatigued but resisting going to sleep? Put on pajamas, make yourself cozy in bed with a teddy bear and the sound of falling rain, and close your eyes for fifteen minutes — no electronic screens allowed. If you’re still awake after that, you can get up again; no pressure.

Have you stretched your legs in the past day? If not, do so right now. If you don’t have the spoons for a run or trip to the gym, just walk around the block, then keep walking as long as you please. If the weather’s crap, drive to a big box store (e.g. Target) and go on a brisk walk through the aisles you normally skip.

Have you said something nice to someone in the past day? Do so, whether online or in person. Make it genuine; wait until you see something really wonderful about someone, and tell them about it.

Have you moved your body to music in the past day? If not, do so — jog for the length of an EDM song at your favorite BPM, or just dance around the room for the length of an upbeat song.

Have you cuddled a living being in the past two days? If not, do so. Don’t be afraid to ask for hugs from friends or friends’ pets. Most of them will enjoy the cuddles too; you’re not imposing on them.

Do you feel ineffective? Pause right now and get something small completed, whether it’s responding to an e-mail, loading up the dishwasher, or packing your gym bag for your next trip. Good job!

Do you feel unattractive? Take a goddamn selfie. Your friends will remind you how great you look, and you’ll fight society’s restrictions on what beauty can look like.

Do you feel paralyzed by indecision? Give yourself ten minutes to sit back and figure out a game plan for the day. If a particular decision or problem is still being a roadblock, simply set it aside for now, and pick something else that seems doable. Right now, the important part is to break through that stasis, even if it means doing something trivial.

Have you seen a therapist in the past few days? If not, hang on until your next therapy visit and talk through things then.

Have you been over-exerting yourself lately — physically, emotionally, socially, or intellectually? That can take a toll that lingers for days. Give yourself a break in that area, whether it’s physical rest, taking time alone, or relaxing with some silly entertainment.

Have you changed any of your medications in the past couple of weeks, including skipped doses or a change in generic prescription brand? That may be screwing with your head. Give things a few days, then talk to your doctor if it doesn’t settle down.

Have you waited a week? Sometimes our perception of life is skewed, and we can’t even tell that we’re not thinking clearly, and there’s no obvious external cause. It happens. Keep yourself going for a full week, whatever it takes, and see if you still feel the same way then.

You’ve made it this far, and you will make it through. You are stronger than you think.

 

Shani
Shani is a photographer and content creator from Los Angeles. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a Communication degree, which she puts to good use by connecting with all the incredible Jewish organizations and the people who support them. With a deep pride in her Jewish roots and an Israeli background, Shani hopes to share the power and potential of Jewish innovation and connection with the world.

Stories from Our Successful Campaigns: “Soon by You”

Through the years, we have had a lot of successful campaigns on Jewcer. We wanted to share their stories and what they learned while crowdfunding with us. Our first interview comes from the creators of a web series called “Soon by You” and their campaign that raised over $15,000!

1. What is your series about? What inspired it?

Soon By You is a comedic web series about young Orthodox Jews dating in NYC. It was inspired by the Israeli TV show Srugim and originally started out as a short film by Leah Gottfried. After winning Best Short Film at the Washington Jewish Film Festival in 2016, Leah decided to expand it into a web series and brought producers Danny Hoffman and Jessica Schechter on board. There are now 4 episodes up on YouTube, with a 5th coming soon.

Leah on set by Fiona G Photography

2. What piece of advice from the Jewcer team stuck with you the most that you can remember?

Two jump out: 1) Appeal to the “why” of the project, not the “what.” People are more willing to give to a cause than a film. 2) Make those who donate feel as though they’ve become a part of the team. They’re more likely to share the campaign or make a second contribution if they feel ownership for the project.

3. How did you promote your campaign? What was the most challenging aspect?

We created a video explaining the campaign and promoted the heck out of it on our social media outlets. We also created a list of all our friends and family and called them up asking them to donate. The hardest part was asking people directly – it often felt uncomfortable, like begging. But, ultimately, people were extremely generous and supportive.

4. Is there any advice you’d give for those considering crowdfunding?

Definitely focus on asking people individually as opposed to only posting publicly.

Sarah, Leah, and Danny by Leora Veit

5. After successfully getting funded, how have you been using the funds towards your project?

We used the funds to produce episode 4! We had a big premiere party and the episode is now out on YouTube.

6. What are your three favorite online or mobile tools that help you run your crowdfunding campaign?

Social media was really helpful. Facebook and Twitter helped get the word out. We also had an existing email list for fans, so Mailchimp helped us reach them directly.

7. If you had to choose a one-liner piece of advice for aspiring Jewish entrepreneurs, what would it be?

Don’t lose sight of the passion that inspired you.

Cast 6 by Abbie Sophia

8. Add a question of your own that we did not ask and give the answer to it…

How are you raising funds moving forward?

For episode 5 and beyond, we are funding the series through product placements and advertisers. Many companies have reached out to us to put their products in the show since we have a large and growing audience. We also still have a donation page set up on our website, so people who want to see more can still contribute directly.

 

 

 

If you’d like to connect with Soon by You, you can check them out on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

 

 

Shani
Shani is a photographer and content creator from Los Angeles. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a Communication degree, which she puts to good use by connecting with all the incredible Jewish organizations and the people who support them. With a deep pride in her Jewish roots and an Israeli background, Shani hopes to share the power and potential of Jewish innovation and connection with the world.

The Year I Woke Up and Became a Jewish Entrepreneur

For years, it was drilled in to me to follow my strengths. With a spatial sense that was and remains virtually non-existent, I was told to focus on what I could do. So I went to drama camp, and Jewish camp, and became a camp counselor and then – before I knew it – I was a community developer,  a non-social work social worker, paid to be proficient in what I was really good at.

Unfortunately, I was running away from myself. By the time I hit my mid-twenties, I could teach the class on how to transform, by which I mean dress-up failure. Faced with a series of doomed relationships, a litany of academic rejections and, at one point, the possibility of being homeless, I spent most of my time trying to seem okay with the next wave of devastation around me. Life wasn’t pretty, but I sure made it look that way – touting the learning experiences at my job and, yes, the next deceptive selfie, as the sort of positive turn-arounds that redeemed a world of unconfronted pain. Sure, I was showing parts of myself, but the rest of me was hiding.

And there was something else to this faux okay-ness. See, I wasn’t just failing, I wasn’t purposefully failing. While I was bragging about all the useful skills I accrued while being at various points abused, confused and removed from how I really wanted to be living, I wasn’t staking a claim on what I wanted. I wasn’t raising the stakes to the highest level, crying out from the bottom: “I may die or, worse, fail going after the truth of who I am…but that is worth everything compared to another moment living the lie of who I am not.”

I had to stop being okay in order to step forward. I had to stop confusing being useful with being purposeful because the conflation was not only antithetical to facing my sheer distance from living the life I wanted, but also pursuing the kind of spiritual proximity that only comes from honest failures, the spoils and toils en route to what one really wants to be doing. Failing in a direction of my choosing did not make the hard parts more bearable. Or even less rare.

But it did make me re-learn what it means to be alive.

It also brought me to learn Hebrew (I mean really commit, failing badly, outrageously, often) after years of being told I would never master a single language. And, as I continue to muck up on the winding path to mastery, I now understand why taking on this learning curve was the precursor to my decision to become a rabbinical student and then a poet and blogger. As my spatial sense grows stronger, so does my sight into my own soul. I have to continue failing at what I really want in order to end up in the places I desire most. And I have to forsake the failsafe of what is comfortable and okay to get there.

In a month where, according to the medieval work, The Zohar, Jews make the existential move from back-to-back to face-to-face, seeing ourselves for who we are and setting out on the tasks we crave to do could not be more pressing. For there is nothing more forward-facing and, as it happens, entrepreneurial, than failure when it meets the sincerity of a veritable purpose.

Devon Spier
Devon Spier is a rabbinical student and spiritual entrepreneur. Over the last decade, she has made her home in the small suburban shtetl of Kitchener-Waterloo, where she supports the leadership of Jewish young professionals, children, new mums and donors so that they may lead in innovative ways that raise up the institutions to which they belong.

Find More Supporters Who Love Your Cause and Want to Donate

Few nonprofits want to spend their time and energy on fundraising. What if you could just find more people like your current supporters, without much more work? That’s where leveraging online tools and the concept of “inbound marketing” becomes a game-changing strategy.

Now that you’ve identified why your current patrons support you and what they’d like to see more of, you have the information you need to give them more. You can also use that same content to attract more like-minded and like-hearted people using “inbound marketing.”

Just as artists want to spend their time creating art rather than marketing it, non-profits prefer to spend their time making an impact rather than “selling themselves” to donors. Using inbound marketing (the technique of getting your supporters to come to you, rather than going out to look for them can greatly reduce the time and cost of searching for supporters, by helping them find you.

Ways to Find and Connect with New Supporters

Method 1: Personal Referral

Word-of-mouth is still the most effective way to reach new people. A recommendation by a friend you trust is usually more powerful than any advertisement or claim by someone you don’t know. So the first – and most powerful – thing you can do to find new supporters, is to ask your current ones to spread the word. As obvious as this seems, many organizations leave this crucial step out the much of the time, thinking that it’s a “given,” or hoping to achieve it passively.

Optimize Your Content for Growth

It’s not enough to share great content if no one sees it. Similarly, it’s not enough to have your content seen if your goal is to grow your audience. In the for-profit and non-profit worlds alike, optimizing your content for specific goals (like growth) is referred to as Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

Every piece of content should have a goal – whether to sign up for your newsletter, attend an event, donate money, call a congressman, or any other action you want the content consumer to take when they’re done. Every action taken as a result is considered a “conversion” because you’ve converted the visitor to an active participant. Optimizing those conversions might include testing where to place the request, how to word it, etc., but if you don’t ask and give people an easy way to take action, you’re not getting the most out of your efforts.

TIP: Whenever possible, that goal should be clearly stated in a “Call to Action” on the page. The quickest way to recognize a call to action is a button. We associate buttons with actions, automation and simplicity.

So why not ask people to share it with friends who might find it interesting or useful? Give them links in your emails and on relevant pages throughout your site that do the work for them. All they have to do is push a button and an email is sent, a post is shared, a pin is pinned, etc. If the reader has received value from the video, article, podcast, etc., they will feel like they “owe” you that much. Plus, it will make them feel like they’re doing their friend(s) a favor by sharing the content with them.

Another ideal time to ask people to share your cause or campaign is just after they’ve contributed to it. Since they clearly see enough value in your work to “pay you back”, they are more likely to share your cause with others. They may also want to humble-brag about their support, to show others that they care about causes like yours.

Method II: Facebook Advertising

While the personal referral is the most powerful (it has been a foundation of sales training for decades and is the reason sites like Yelp exist), it is just one arrow in your online quiver. Another powerful arrow is social media marketing. In this case, we’ll focus on Facebook, since that is the most ubiquitous platform and has the most powerful targeting tools.

What not to Advertise

Don’t advertise yourself. Advertising for people to just “like” your page might increase a vanity metric, but with Facebook’s organic reach now below 2%, your fans are not likely to hear from you on Facebook unless you once again advertise or promote your posts to them. The only winner here is Facebook, who gets paid every time you do that.

Similarly, advertising your website might increase some awareness of your organization, but is not likely to drive traffic or increase your base of loyal supporters. And the worst thing you can do is to just advertise your request for donations. As we previously covered, you’re competing against myriad other requests for people’s time and money; without a genuine connection to an individual, you may wind up alienating more people than you connect with.

What to Advertise to Gain Supporters

Advertise the new, original content that you learned connects best to your current top patrons. As much as possible, marketing should be about the people you impact and the benefits you provide to the world. This will be evident in your best stories, however they’re shared.

How to Advertise Your Non-Profit’s Content on Facebook

The easiest thing to do with a post on Facebook is hit that “Boost Post” button to promote it, and simply target your fans and their friends. While people often share common interests with their close connections, that’s a somewhat scatter-shot approach for many causes.

For example, let’s say your cause is combating obesity in the U.S., which affects nearly 35% of the population. Your page fans will be individuals who are personally affected by the disease (directly or through a loved one). And while they may each have thousands of Facebook friends, statistically, 65% of them are unlikely to consider your cause as paramount in their own lives.

Option 1: Target by Interest

Instead, you can do targeted advertising, even with a post that you’ve already placed on your timeline. Targeted promotions and ads can be based on location, such as cities, states and countries. Then they can further be refined by interests which, for the above example, would include “obesity,” “obesity awareness,” and other organizations with large fanbases, like the “obesity action coalition.”

TIP: If your goal is to cultivate more donors, Facebook’s “Detailed Targeting” options now offers the ability to target people who have donated to specific causes (or any causes) in the past!

Option 2: Target by Similar Profile (“Look-Alikes”)

Another option is to let Facebook find people similar to your current email subscribers. You can import your current email list into Facebook’s ad tools to create a “look-alike” audience, and advertise directly to them. Facebook analyzes what your subscribers have in common and then attempts to find similar people on the site. All email providers offer you the option to export your list, and MailChimp even integrates directly with Facebook, pulling in the list information automatically.

Which Method is Best for Reaching People Who Love Your Cause?

Word-of-mouth, whether actually spoken, emailed, or shared on social media, is going to give you the most bang for your buck, since they’re largely free, and the most powerful engine for recommendations. But advertising relevant content to the people you know are likely to be interested is a powerful option. The more clear you are about whom you are targeting and with what content, the less expensive and more effective it will be.

 

This article was originally published at dotOrgStrategy.

Boris of dotOrgStrategy.com
Boris is the founder of dotOrgStrategy, a platform for teaching nonprofits how to effectively use technology to achieve and expand their missions, without over-stretching their resources; and Speed of Like, a boutique digital agency focusing on small businesses, startups, and nonprofits. A storyteller and entrepreneur, Boris is excited to combine his passions for technology, storytelling, and making a positive difference in the world by helping organizations increase impact locally and globally, through digital tools including websites, social media, email, advertising and crowdfunding.