Crowdfunding is the New Blue Tzedakah Box

Jewish communities around the world have many things in common, but one thing stands out: that iconic blue Jewish National Fund (JNF) tzedakah box. In our childhoods, those metal boxes were everywhere. Fast forward a few decades though, and you don’t see that tzedakah box in every Jewish home or Hebrew school classroom. You may miss that little blue box, but there are still opportunities for Jewish people around the world to get the same feeling of participation in building something valuable for the community.

Participating in initiatives and causes that directly benefit the community is easier than ever. Your spare coins can be used to participate in dozens of social causes that are using crowdfunding to raise money and build community.

Crowdfunding is typically defined as collecting money from a large number of people by using the Internet to reach out to a variety of people and networks. Many people recognize crowdfunding from Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the two platforms that popularized this tool. Crowdfunding doesn’t only happen online, though — it happens at your fundraising gala, your 5k walk to support a cause, and of course your JNF tzedakah box. In fact, it’s easy to argue that it is a practice that has been going on for years to help individuals and organizations gain support for initiatives they want to bring to life.

By tapping into the resources of the larger community, crowdfunding helps initiatives to both collect financial contributions, grow a natural audience, and gain public exposure. In modern incarnations, this support is collected through an online hub where people can contribute financially or by sharing the initiative with their friends and networks. It has grown in popularity over the past few years because it is a 21st century model for a centuries-old practice of fundraising and community building. Throughout the centuries, institutions have gone from person to person to collect funds for support. In the era of globalization, people can belong to a community anywhere as long as they can connect and participate online.

This is also a great vehicle for reaching beyond your own network and demonstrating your value to a wider audience. It allows an initiative to garner support and feedback without having to host a community town hall meeting or go door to door. Most importantly, it encourages people to participate in the initiative at the early stages, from concept to implementation. As a result, they can feel they belong to the initiative and they have stake in its success. Crowdfunding is a bottom-up, democratic way for initiatives to reach and empower the younger demographic and should be a part of the fundraising lexicon. It’s the newest way to participate in a project, program, idea, or cause that you feel a connection with and know you are an integral in making it happen.

If you have questions about crowdfunding, email us at and we’ll be there to answer you!