5 Videos to Help Improve Your Social Media Game

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 […]

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.

Two Nice Jewish Boys and Israeli Radio

We’ve talked about how podcasting can be very beneficial for your projects. Whether it acts as a supplementary resource or your entire life’s work, podcasts are an incredible tool for educating and raising awareness. Naor Meningher and Eytan Weinstein knew this, and about a year ago, the two decided to create Two Nice Jewish Boys, a podcast about life in Israel in English. Naor, a native Israeli, and Eytan, an American oleh who has been in Israel for ten years, met at film school in Tel Aviv. Recently, they have been accepted at Ta’agid, the new Israeli radio station (like NPR) to create a new series called The Melting Podcast. The series will be similar to their podcast in that it will be for an English speaking audience and features Israeli artists who sing in English. However, the format will be shorter and much more heavily edited than Two Nice Jewish Boys. I had the opportunity to meet with them at the Ta’agid studio, talk about their experiences starting a podcast in Israel and photograph them as they recorded their new podcast!

 

Naor Meningher and Zohar Ginzburg from Trust a Lady

What inspired you to create a podcast? And why about Israel?

We are both in fields in which the fulfillment for your work is delayed. By a lot. Naor works in filmmaking and Eytan is a scriptwriter. By the time you come up with an idea, go through a million drafts, finalize, produce, direct, edit, etc. you’ve probably forgotten why the hell you decided to the project in the first place. Of course, you manage to pull through, but sometimes you just want that good ol’ Millennial instant-gratification. And we find that in podcasting. Some podcasts are larger productions, like the one we are currently producing for the New IPBC (Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation) AKA The Ta’agid, but Two Nice Jewish Boys, our debut podcast, is a more laid-back, fluid conversation format. We get an interesting guest. We sit down for about 45 minutes and talk and boom! we’ve got ourselves an episode.

Why about Israel? We live in Israel, we love it here and it’s full of super interesting people with cool stories. So, as a really nice Jewish boy once said, “Why not?”

 

Naor Meningher

How did you go about learning the technical process of creating a podcast on your own?

Naor is definitely the technical one. Studying and then later creating film, he got to know the whole world of audio from sound-recording to editing pretty well. Two Nice Jewish Boys is hardly edited, the new podcast will be. For editing, Naor uses Audacity, which is a great, easy-to-use open-source (that means FREE!) editing software. Our gear is all, top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art, latest-tech from Ali Express. That’s sarcasm. We use BM-700 mics that cost 10 bucks a pop. The only stuff that’s slightly expensive is the external audio interface and the mixer. All in all it was an investment of 500 bucks to get things rolling. Other than that, you need a website and you want to be on all the relevant social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

 

Eytan Weinstein

Now that you are at Ta’agid and working in a professional setting, what’s different?

Basically, we had to get off our asses and do some work. The podcast we’re producing for the Ta’agid is much more segmented and edited. Therefore, it’s a lot more work. Aside from the unscripted segments (interviews and musical guests), the episodes include some scripted segments as well like audio sketches. This means, we have to sit and write, edit drafts, sit to record and then edit the audio. We are also working with an external body, the Ta’agid, so while before we could do or say anything we want, now we know that we’ve got someone to answer to. With that said, they’ve actually granted us an extensive amount of independence, which is awesome!

 

 

 

How do you come up with the content for each episode?

Jen Charlton and Naor Meningher

So with Two Nice Jewish Boys, the first step is to pick a guest. Our main criteria for choosing guests is one simple question: Who do we want to hang out with and talk to for an hour? So we bounce ideas back and forth and then book them. Once we’ve chosen and booked a guest, that pretty much gives a clear direction as to what the questions will be like. So if we’re having a Member of Parliament, we know we’ll be asking about their political ideology, recent legislation, plans for the future, etc. Or if we’re having an author for exa mple, we’ll read their book, and talk about their career and their writing.

With The Melting Podcast, same goes for the guests, but with the other content, it’s a creative process. The podcast targets English speaking Olim, the Hebrew word for new immigrants, so we know that we need content that speaks to them. Just like any other creative process, we sit, brainstorm, write, trash it, write some more and in the end we’ve got something we’re not totally devastated with.

 

How long would you say it takes to get an episode ready for listening?

Two Nice Jewish Boys: About 2 hours of prep, an hour of recording and 5 minutes to piece it together and upload it.

The Melting Podcast: All in all – writing, recording and editing included – it’s about 8 to 10 hours of work per episode.

 

Eytan Weinstein

What are the best strategies for building up an audience?

It’s all about consistency. Upload good content at a consistent pace and people will start listening. There are of course ways to accelerate growth – ad campaigns on Facebook, buying ad spots on other podcasts with a similar niche audience – but those cost money. Without money, the best way to go about getting to your audience is forging relationships with relevant organizations. We have two collaborations currently. One with the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles and the other with Secret Tel Aviv. Both are a direct channel to our listeners and both collaborations are mutually beneficial. We promote them, they promote us.

 

One of the Ta’agid recording studios

What are some tips and advice you would give to people interested in starting a podcast for their business?

Don’t quit your day job… yet! Do it. Dive in and don’t look back until you’ve got 100 episodes. Even if you’re not creating the most amazing podcast ever right now, you need some experience under your belt so get recording!

 

 

 

These two nice Jewish boys are currently looking for sponsors. Keep an eye out for the Melting Podcast coming out this fall!

 

 

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.

Keys to an Effective Non-Profit Website

Q: How important is it to have an effective website for your non-profit?

A: It’s mission critical!

While every element of your online presence is an important part of your storytelling strategy, most of the bigger actions (donations, registrations, etc.) are taken on your website. In marketing lingo, this is commonly referred to as “conversion”, because it converts a visitor into a supporter.

It’s where you control your story best, and where you drive traffic to most often. It’s where you should consistently be delivering much (if not most) of your value to your audience and, therefore, also making your most powerful calls to action.

That’s why we believe that a website is the most valuable digital platform you have. It’s often the only one you truly own, and it is definitely the most pivotal to your mission success. How your website looks, feels and performs will affect how your audience perceives your organization.

Functional Requirements for a Non-Profit Website

While all businesses are concerned with money and infrastructure, nonprofits have some particular constraints and goals when it comes to their websites. Very few non-profits have an in-house technology team that can implement the latest functionality quickly and at low additional cost. Similarly, working frequently with a designer to create new layouts and visuals every time can consume more resources than you can spare.

That’s why, for a nonprofit to be able to get the most out of their website, it needs to be:

  • Easy to maintain: Updates and security patches should be easy to apply, if they’re at all necessary. Backups should either be automatic or incredibly simple to perform.
  • Easy to update: Quickly change or create new pages and posts without requiring a designer or a developer
  • Great at converting visitors to actors: Give them calls to action that integrate with your donations platform, email platform, registration, sales, etc.
  • Fit within your budget: Low (or zero) ongoing costs of hosting and maintenance, including technical support.

To make sure that your audiences can discover and use the website from whatever device they’re on, your site must also:

  • Load quickly: Research says you have 8-15 seconds to capture attention on desktop, much less on mobile. When the page they’re interested in loads slowly, people’s patience is already running low before they even read a word.
  • Be search-engine optimized (SEO): If Google can’t properly crawl your site and understand what it’s about, how can it know when it should show it in search results, and to whom?
  • Integrate Social Media: Your target audiences (beneficiaries and benefactors alike) discover and share things on social media. Your site has to make it easy for them to share your content and for others to discover it. That includes creating good-looking preview images and descriptions that show up when shared on social platforms.
  • Be optimized for desktop, tablet and mobile: Crucial to user experience (UX), the user interface (UI) must respond to the screen size and look optimized on every device. Sites that use text too small to read on mobile, links that are too hard to click with a large finger on a small phone, etc. will frustrate users.
  • Perform well across most browsers: Modern browsers (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple’s Safari, and others) are complex tools that offer a lot of powerful options on desktop and mobile devices, but they don’t all work exactly the same way. If you’re still testing your site on Internet Explorer or even Safari, your audience may be getting a completely different (and worse) experience. Test your pages on each of the top browsers to ensure a consistent, quality experience.

 

Key Elements for Non-Profit Website Success

Beyond the core functionality and ease of use, non-profit websites need to focus their energies on different areas than for-profit sites that are selling a product. Non-profit sites must be able to provide value to their donors through stories.

In order to keep a website relevant and providing value to your benefactors and beneficiaries, a non-profit website must meet the following criteria:

Emotionally compelling

An emotional connection is the primary motivator in giving to a cause. You can cite stats and achievements all day long, but if people can’t connect to the cause and the impact, they’re not going care about “cold numbers.” Effective storytelling can make an emotionally compelling experience which numbers can then amplify.

Visually appealing

We do judge books by their cover, and we do judge things relative to similar experiences. If you want people to spend more time on your site, you have to make it pleasant on the eye and on the mind. For more on visual storytelling, take a look at Visuals: A Nonprofit Storytelling Superpower.

Timely (frequently updated)

We live in a constant news cycle. Whether it’s politics, entertainment or human interest, “trending” topics are everywhere. You don’t have to compete with CNN or Twitter, but the more timely your content, the more likely it will garner attention and resonate with the people who you want to reach. This makes “easy to update” (see above) even more important.

Bonus: Google likes to see frequent updates on a subject as an indicator of expertise and timely relevancy in search results.

Easy to navigate

This comes back to storytelling and the User Experience (UX). If it’s hard to find something on your site, people will look elsewhere. Make sure your most important content is quick and easy to get to. Give new users a way to find the things they’re interested in, and give returning users a quick way to get to the pages they visit often.

Tip: Review your analytics regularly to see what your most popular content is, and make that easier to get to on your site.

Have clear and easy-to-follow calls to action

What should your page visitors do when they’re done looking at the content on any given page? You can hope that they go to the main menu and find something else they like, or you can give them a clear suggestion of where to go and what to do next. This can include everything from reading another page or article, to making a donation.

How many of these keys is your organization’s site employing? Missing any one of them could mean you’re missing out on connecting with audiences, turning them into fans, raising more money, and increasing you impact.

 

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.

The Accidental Jewish Entrepreneur

This story is the first in a series called the “The Accidental Jewish Entrepeneur“, profiling Jews in unexpected places whose innovations change their communities for good. The first story comes to us from a woman in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada:

Diana was 50-years-old when she learned how to create a website. Working with her niece, she helped create her local JCC page, and her commitment to her community only grew. In small Jewish communities, communication can sometimes feel like a styrofoam cup and string. Leaders can be over-extended as they are under-resourced, running the risk of burnout as they try to make something from bupkis.

And then, there’s Diana: The technology maven, who texts and emails, paying attention to every detail, and when her community calls? She answers by learning and delivering exactly what it needs.

Take the JCC website, where Diana responds to many individuals who are looking to learn about the community. Recently, an Israeli family was in touch with questions she was able to answer about the city. There were further emails and then a telephone conversation. And then, a Shabbat dinner with the prospective residents in her city. Who knew that the distance between Waterloo and Israel could be filled by “lishmah”  doing a mitzvah (good deed) for its own sake?

You see, Diana does not have a fancy title and – believe me – she donates every speck of her time and resources in kind. She is not a professional Jew…but I believe she is a vocational one.

With so little, I wonder what could possibly motivate Diana so much? The answer I find is in the details. She writes that the Israeli family from her story decided to move from Israel to the community and are moving there this fall and as I re-read her words, I begin to notice, she never speaks in “I” but always…“we.”

Diana, all the leaders behind her, and all the ones she has helped touch, are grounded in connection. They live out the truth that they are part of the Jewish People and that their knowledge and experience – even the lack of it – constitute outstretched arms, the first points of contact that will reveal what the people on the other end have gotten themselves into, let alone the whole nature of this relationship.

But there’s more: Leaders like Diana not merely extend invitations, but rather, they are inspired to remedy what they don’t know, and they use this as fuel to reach the invisible places and, thereby, make institutions and all the individuals within them aware of and responsive to the unseen. This means filling in the gaps of technology, but it also means challenging the status quo when it puts people painfully out of reach. 

So often, entrepreneurship is bound up in the brand. Pitches, products, and positively prudent leaders who will tell you exactly why their enterprise is right for you. Not because it actually is right but perhaps beacuse they’ve researched it and they “know.” It’s sort of a rehearsed script leadership I like to call “We for Me.”  It looks good on the outside, but inside, it’s bereft of the kind of purpose that grounds people at the center of institutions. Purpose that led Diana at 50 to learn something that would change her small Jewish community forever.

Though she talks of her slow typing, I’m convinced Diana’s wisdom is so advanced, it beyond makes up for it. After all, here she is working to learn what she doesn’t know to create a community where all Jews, those inside and outside its walls, are completely and personally known.

If that authentic “we” is not a recipe for Jewish entrepreneurship, than I do not know what is.

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.

5 Twitter Handles Every Entrepreneur Should Follow

1. James Altucher

A brutally honest entrepreneur and author, James Altucher, shares both his failures and struggles as well as his successes. If you really want to learn a thing or two about life-work balance and all the ins and outs of being your own boss, give him a follow!

 

2. Gary Vaynerchuk

If you need some extra motivation, not just in your work, but in your life, give Gary Vaynerchuk a listen/read/watch. He’ll help you get to that frame of mind you need to keep going!

 

3. Ali Brown

Named as the “Entrepreneurial guru for women,” Ali Brown works to motivate and mentor female entrepreneurs. However, her advice and input is incredibly valuable to both genders as she has plenty to offer about the business world.

 

4. Adam Milstein

If you work in the world of Jewish entrepreneurship AND philanthropy, you probably know who this guy is! Adam Milstein is a must follow for those who want to keep abreast on Israel and the world.

 

5. Tim Ferriss

 Tim Ferriss is the author of The 4-Hour Workweek. That sounds pretty good to us! Give him a follow for inspiration and creative lifestyle tips.

 

Of course, there are so many great resources in the twittersphere and all over the net. If you have any other favorite people you follow, let us know for future posts on valuable resources for entrepreneurs!

 

 

 

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.
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Jerusalem of Gold, Not Gold-Plated: Visions of Jewish Entrepreneurship on the 9th of Av

The journal stood on the shelf as plain as day: “Eff-ing Brilliant,” it read, emblazoned across the front.

I let out a loud gasp. When was the last time any idea – let along the bulk of my ideas – was brilliant?

Smack dab in the middle of an article re-write, all I could think of was that I don’t really have ideas…but that somewhere here, I have glimmers. Infinitesimal specks of light floating in the darkness. Elusive, captivating. But, all the while, that darkness still. I remember reading earlier this week that someone on LinkedIn was so glad for all the negative people in his life for showing him exactly who he did not want to be. And then a million other encircling posts liking and congratulating people from this place of “Eff-ing Brilliant,” people so quick to grab hold of the glimmers, that beauty and shine forsakes us about what’s real as we create our projects and define our creative worlds.

I mean, when’s the last time you commented on your teammate’s divorce post?

Or, on a whim, you decided to call or meet up with someone just to listen because you knew (s)he was having a hard time?

And what about, openly talking about that idea hole, the one you’ve been in, since your last few pitches, and you too, seriously flopped…onto a mattress with toilet-paper-masquerading-as-kleenex and take-out?

Luckily for sites like Jewcer, folks are transcending what Eli Pariser deems the “filter bubble” or the technologically circumscribed web of information we receive as tailored by our search engines. Entrepreneurs from every conceivable walk of life are sharing their triumphs and failures and inviting all segments of the Jewish community to leap forward and join them in the process of crowdfunding co-creation.

It’s sites like these that make sense of the darkness and the glimmers. That merge the personal and the professional so we can celebrate our gladness and our grit. And that place exists. Maybe not in the contents of our strategic plans or make-believe entrepreneurial fancies. But perhaps the obscure details. The moment of not knowing. Realizing and walking a co-worker through parts unknown during a crisis. And though I’m loath to admit it: Even the act of crying can lead us more deeply into others, our work and, if we let it, the Jewish People.

Just last week, Amir Give’on, Jewcer’s CEO and co-founder, posted on a dark day in Israel’s present, imploring all people who engage with Israel to direct their dollars toward projects that reflect the country they envision. His words brought tears to my eyes. If this day’s darkness could inspire such life, and be shared on feeds from seemingly worlds over, how the ways we frame Jewish entrepreneurship could do the same!

Today, world Jewry gathers to mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temple. Of this and the other various catastrophes this day marks, Psalm 137 recalls: “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, sat and wept, as we thought of Zion.” Such is one historical glimpse of a time where there was no silver lining. Only the lingering dark. And memory.

Over 2000 years later, Jews can open their mouths in prayer at the Western Wall.  And the real projects, partnerships and pain so electric it illuminated the way forward? All came from that one dark moment.

Maybe avoiding the dark isn’t so “Eff-ing Brilliant” after all.

If we fumble around long enough, we may find something worth believing in and working toward. That’s what Jewcer and all the Jewish entrepreneurs who write here mean to me.

A Jerusalem of Gold, not one that is gold-plated.

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.

Peers, Mentors and Angels: 3 Whys to Develop Your Venture in an Incubator

From January to May this year, I was lucky to be part of the JCC Chicago’s social entrepreneurship program Seed613 where I was working on my start-up ‘creative: for good’, which connects millennial artists with non-profit organizations for meaningful advertising. Just like with most things in life, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone and this holds for start-up incubators as well.

For many (social) entrepreneurs, being part of a group of like-minded individuals helps them get their ventures off the ground more smoothly and quickly. This is especially true when you are at the very beginning of your entrepreneurial journey. An incubator can be the perfect bridge to move forward with your idea to execution – just like it was in my case.

Here’s why:

Resources, mentors & angels

Incubators will connect you with the right people, provide you with resources and give you guidance. Incubators are home to mentors, venture capitalists and angel investors. Many of them also provide tangible resources such as legal advice, accounting assistance or office space. Having all this in place allows the founders to focus on their startup and its core business and forget about the red tape at least for some time. As a fellow of the Seed613 Bootcamp at JCC Chicago, I too reaped many benefits. I was given guidance regarding the legal forms that I can consider for my start-up as well as advice on financial planning and budget – the scariest piece of my venture adventure.

Networking, networking, networking

One of the biggest benefits of developing your venture in an incubator is the access to a strong network of business partners, investors, venture capitalists, mentors and other entrepreneurs and founders – simply community. The community you will build while in the incubator will stay with you and you will realize that it is probably the most valuable thing you will take away from the entire experience. An incubator also gives you credibility and I can say with certainty that, without having been part of Seed613, I would have not had access to certain media outlets and business partners. A network can be extremely beneficial from a marketing and PR perspective, as well, because there is only so much you can do as a startup with a tiny budget.

Peer Support & Environment

For me, the most unexpected element of being part of a start-up boot camp was actually the environment and peer support. Every time I came for our session, I left energized and full of determination and commitment to bring my venture into life. Being in a group of like-minded individuals is extremely helpful especially at times when your motivation falters or when you feel a lack of energy or strength. Incubators are FULL of dynamic, creative, and smart people who want to make things happen. Their energy is contagious.

Being part of an incubator, accelerator or a start-up boot camp can play a defining role in bringing your idea to life and growing your startup. For me, it narrowed down the idea and brought it to its early stage execution including a business plan, website, social media presence and a first project. The value of the mentorship, the resources, and the network that Seed613 have brought to me have been instrumental to my determination to bring world-class advertising to non-profit organizations.

 

Katia Kobylinski
Katia Kobylinski is an avid brand strategist & social entrepreneur. To merge her passions for causes, stories and arts, she founded ‘creative: for good’ – a virtual ad agency that connects millennial artists and nonprofits for advertising for the good – at JCC Chicago’s start-up incubator Seed613. Katia loves city life, hummus & company.

Nonprofit Marketing Using Impact Funnels and Storytelling

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 […]

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.

5 Free Marketing Tools for Every Entrepreneur

If you’re just getting started in the world of entrepreneurship, you probably don’t have a giant marketing budget. So we’ve compiled a list of free marketing tools you should use in order to grow and develop your business! Not only will they help you grow your business, but these tools will also help you save time and money.

1. MailChimp

If you’ve ever listened to an NPR podcast, you’ve probably heard an ad for MailChimp. As one of the most popular tools for email marketing, MailChimp is incredibly user friendly and beneficial for maintaining and growing an audience. They also have a great page dedicated to teaching you how to maximize all that it has to offer.

Features include:

  • Integrating with Facebook and Instagram to gain new customers and subscribers
  • Adjustments based on feedback from MailChimp reports
  • Customizing emails based on purchase data
  • Automation tools that will save time and headache!

2. Canva

Today, aesthetics are almost as important as the product or service itself. Canva is another incredibly user friendly tool to create designs that will be appealing and enticing to your customers. The site also has fantastic articles with advice about design.

Features include:

  • A very easy to use drag and drop system
  • A variety of font combinations, templates, icons, images and illustrations
  • A color palette generator (you can select colors from images you use on your website)
  • A photo editor page

3. Buffer

Social media can be incredibly overwhelming and exhausting. With so many different accounts to keep track of and different etiquettes in each of them, managing it is a job in and of itself. Buffer helps ease the strain of it all.

Features include:

  • Automation and post scheduling
  • Manage all accounts from this one space
  • Crafting updates for each social media channel separately
  •  Data and performance analysis

4. Yoast

If you use WordPress, Yoast is a must for tracking and optimizing every aspect of your site. Yoast also offers great SEO courses that are essential to understanding how to gain more exposure in the online world.

Features include:

  • Assistance in meta description
  • SEO ranking and improvement through readability score
  • Analytics and feedback
  • All in all–helps attract more people from google and social media!

5. SumoMe

To grow your site even more, you’ve got to check out SumoMe.

Features include:

  • Integration with your email marketing tool–ehem, MailChimp, ehem
  • Content and visitor tracking
  • More effective share buttons
  • The ability to design less invasive popups and gain more subscribers

Of course, there are hundreds of apps and online tools out there, and we hope that this inspires you to get started on making good use of them if you haven’t already!

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.

Social Justice, Advocacy, and Mission Alignment

Given the fraught nature of our current political situation, many entrepreneurs may be thinking about questions of communal responsibility and advocacy.

They may be wondering (as I am) about what role their organizations (or the organizations which they are in the midst of starting) should be playing, in terms of relationships to social justice issues and large political conversations, at this particular moment. This can be especially tricky if one’s personal or organizational vision is not overtly connected to such issues.

About six years ago, I founded theatre dybbuk, a company whose mission focuses on illuminating the universal human experience through the creation of provocative theatrical productions and innovative educational opportunities based on Jewish folklore, rituals, and history.

As you can see, our mission may be concerned with humanity and the ways in which we interact, but we are not clearly an advocacy organization (although one could argue that artistic endeavors which foster empathy are, by extension, advocating for social progress).

As an entrepreneur, however, who cares deeply about such issues, I’ve had to get curious – What does theatre dybbuk, and arts organizations in general, bring to the table that can contribute to the conversation in meaningful ways, while remaining true to our core programs and approaches?

The arts can be an advocate for that which is plural in nature and transcends argument – deep investigation.

theatre dybbuk’s most recent produced work, exagoge, infused the Biblical Exodus story with contemporary narratives of refugees, immigrants, and those who have been disenfranchised. The work also presented Moses as a figure whose sometimes violent actions could be viewed as either righteous or fanatical, depending on one’s point of view. By combining all of these elements, audience members cannot attach themselves to one answer. Instead, they must sift through layers of meaning in order to come to multiple truths that exist only in relationship to one another. Such complexity is inherent in the Jewish tradition, with our history of debate that takes place over time and traverses space. We are a people whose laws and rituals came about through reading between the lines and through the accompanying thorough exploration of words and phrases and intentions.

Artistic works can ask audience members and participants to transcend immediate reaction, in order to sit in that which is most uncomfortable: uncertainty.

In a play, we may be asked to empathize with a figure only to discover that he/she/they is the villain as the piece continues. Or we may find ourselves disgusted by a person’s actions only to then learn that he/she/they was wronged and is merely taking a necessary step to put the world right again. Engagement with the arts encourages an understanding that even as something may seem black or white there are places where elements combine to make gray.

In this time of rapid-fire response, sound-bites, and blurbs, works of art can cause lingering questions to arise, instead of providing immediate validation or easily dismissed opposition.

The theatrical experience, more often than not, requires audience members to have patience, taking in that which is being presented and to go on a journey over the course of a set period of time. Whatever feelings of joy, or anger, or outrage, are being experienced, they go unexpressed, and must be sat through as the performers do their work. By sitting through our emotional responses until we can get an entire picture, we are training ourselves to think carefully about the people and issues in front of us. We are teaching ourselves the power of empathy.

For example, theatre dybbuk is in development on a new piece which utilizes the stories connected to the lost tribes of Israel to explore questions related to assimilation, appropriation, intersection, and integration in our world today. The work will open in Spring of 2018 and it will use the theatrical tools with which we are most familiar to provoke conversation and to advocate for social progress.

So, what can you do to join the conversation?

1.) Identify the values inherent in your mission, which can address a variety of issues and concerns.

  • When thinking about advocacy and social justice, theatre dybbuk focuses on the aspect of our mission that is in relationship to “illuminating universal human experience.” This aspect speaks to a value of wishing to understand one another. Such a value gives us an entry point to focused engagement with issues connected to race, identity, and belonging.

2.) Engage with your primary skills and techniques, rather than crafting programs separate from them.

  • In order to address our concerns and to provoke conversation, we did not craft new programs which are separate from our main work. We allow our work to shift and evolve, remaining true to what we do well. In other words, as a theatre company, we use theatre, possibly aligning it with other forms and areas of interest, instead of searching for forms that are outside of our expertise.

3.) Get curious. Come from a place of questions, rather than answers.

  • We do not pretend to have concrete answers to complex questions (especially, in areas where we may have deep care and interest, but not necessarily nuanced knowledge). Instead, we ask questions of ourselves and the world in order to open space for meaningful interactions and learning.

4.) Look Outward and Collaborate!

  • We have a history of partnering with institutions, whose concerns are aligned with the themes of our work. We combine our resources to reach more engaged participants and to increase the scope of both our impact and theirs. We also rely, as indicated above, on their expertise in areas that are not necessarily where we have ours.  For example, in May, we collaborated with the Silverlake Independent JCC to present a reading of exagoge (the show mentioned above), benefiting the ACLU of Southern California, and featuring an attorney speaker from that organization. By allowing ourselves to look beyond our organization’s sometimes singular focus, we are able to support that which is in collaboration and conversation with all that we do.

As an entrepreneur, you can utilize your strengths to engage with your society in meaningful ways that both speak to your mission and transcend it…

Aaron Henne of theatre dybbuk
In addition to his work as theatre dybbuk’s Artistic Director, Aaron teaches storytelling workshops throughout the country and has designed and facilitated creative seminars for Lucasfilm, Pixar, Dreamworks, and WET Design. He has taught at American Jewish University, has served as a professional mentor at Otis College of Art and Design, and as faculty for the Wexner Heritage Program. Mr. Henne is a board member for the Alliance For Jewish Theatre and the recipient of LA Weekly and SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards for Playwriting.