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How a historic Brooklyn synagogue raised over $80,000 in 13 days

A 100 year old Brooklyn synagogue has raised over $80,000 in just thirteen days on Jewcer. They have seventeen more days to reach their goal of $110,000. This synagogue is home to the Park Slope Jewish Center, a community that focuses on Tikkun Olam and inclusion. We checked in with Jeremy, a member of PSJC Capital Campaign Committee, who is running this campaign. We asked him some questions about his experience crowdfunding through Jewcer.

Why did your community choose crowdfunding to raise money for the synagogue?

We’re a dynamic and active shul, and our members work hard to build community within the walls of our building and throughout NYC. We wanted to offer them a new kind of campaign that they could really get invested in, rally around and build that community with. Crowdfunding seemed the perfect answer.

As you built your campaign, what piece of advice from the Jewcer team stuck with you the most?

Crowdfunding is a great tool but it won’t work by itself. Jewcer offered us a lot of advice and guidance along the way. One of the items they stressed was that you need to get out there, work your community and organize them to work their contacts. You need to be the driver of your own campaign.  I wish we could have done even more.

What preparations did you take before the campaign started?

We started to organize our community around the campaign a few days before it started through emails, a phone bank and announcements at Shabbat services. Jewcer also provided us with tutorials and check lists that would steer us in the right direction towards success.

How have you been promoting your campaign? What is the most challenging aspect of doing so?

We’ve been reaching out to members regularly at services and synagogue events. We send out a dedicated email every few days and have run two phone banks so far, with more to come. The most challenging piece has been getting people to give at a high level. We have a high goal, every donation counts, but we also need some big numbers to meet our mark.

Did you use any digital tools to manage your campaign?

We’ve run our campaign completely old school. Believe me, an online professional crowdfunding campaign was already very advanced for us compared to past campaigns but the members have really taken to it. When we run more of these campaigns in the future, and we definitely will, I anticipate them becoming even more sophisticated.

What proved to be the best way to get people to donate? What about the worst way?

Jewcer encouraged us to be honest. For us, this campaign is critical to the future of our synagogue as it involves structural repairs to the building to ensure we can continue to use it safely. Letting the members know what is happening and why this is so timely has been the most effective approach. Generic appeal language is not compelling.

What do you feel was your biggest mistake?

We’re trying to hit a big number and to do that we need constant attention and work on this campaign. We didn’t build a big enough network of volunteers at the onset to pull it off. But we are a close community and several members have stepped forward at a high level to help us reach our goal.

What would be your “one piece of advice” you would recommend other synagogues to know?

Crowdfunding still requires that you do the real work necessary to raise awareness and support, like you would for any campaign, but it’s a fantastic tool to build with.

Would you recommend that other synagogues use Jewcer for crowdfunding?

Absolutely, crowdfunding offers a real home for your campaign to live and helps build community around a common goal. Jewcer provided us with valuable feedback and expert advice that can really help, especially if you are new to crowdfunding. I’d recommend it to any synagogue looking to take its fundraising to the next level.

 

 

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: “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.

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.

6 Web Series That Fully Crowdfunded Their Project on Jewcer!

There’s no doubt that imagery and video are crucial to gaining an audience and garnering support for your mission. A web series is an especially powerful tool used to entertain, teach, and inspire. Today, we wanted to share with you some of the more successful campaigns for web series projects on Jewcer!

Zionism in Animation

Campaign Goal: $20,000
Total Raised: $20,532

Soon By You

Campaign Goal: $15,000
Total Raised: $15,939

 

Joy of Israel

Campaign Goal: $10,000
Total Raised: $11,402

 

Bubbala Please

Campaign Goal: $4,000
Total Raised: $7,363

 

The Israeli Show

Campaign Goal: $1,200
Total Raised: $1,204

 

Enminutos

Campaign Goal: $1,000
Total Raised: $1,356

 

These days, our attention spans have grown smaller and, thus, many people prefer to watch or listen to their content of interest rather than read it. So it’s no surprise that we encourage all new Jewcer campaigns to include a video on their page. We hope you’ve enjoyed these videos and will continue to watch their talented work!

 

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.
Nonprofit Crowdfunding Storytelling Tips

Nonprofit Crowdfunding: 7 Storytelling Tips for Successful Campaigns

Crowdfunding is a method of raising funds from many people in order to fund a project or other venture. Although it is widely used in for-profit entrepreneurial projects, it also has great applications for nonprofits as well. When campaigns are run correctly, non-profits can realize great returns, including increasing funding and growing their supporter community.

This concept predates the Internet, beginning many years ago in a variety of capacities, such as authors advertising book projects and the sale of war bonds. The modern online version first gained popularity online in arts and music communities. ArtistShare was launched in 2003, followed by IndieGoGo in 2008, Kickstarter in 2009, Microventures in 2010 and MobileCause in 2014.

The industry as a whole raised $16.2 billion in 2014, $34.4 billion in 2015 and may have topped $60 billion in 2016. It’s an industry that has continually grown in leaps each year.

While there are great successes, roughly two-thirds of projects fail to raise their intended funds. Success often pivots on careful planning, and that begins (and ends) with storytelling.

Why Non-profits Must Tell Great Stories

As with every aspect of communications, non-profit crowdfunding has to incorporate effective storytelling.

  • Stories help people connect with and remember things
  • Stories have the power to help make decisions
  • Stories help to inspire a sense of generosity

People are likely to support those with whom they most identify. Showing abstract numbers, no matter how impressive or relevant, doesn’t inspire people as much as the plight of an individual. Telling your story (or that of your cause’s target beneficiaries) from a sympathetic perspective, can sway people to support it and take action. When people are presented with the story of an affected individual or group, they are likely to give twice as much as they otherwise would have.

Seven Non-profit Crowdfunding Storytelling Tips

1. Answer the five Ws and H

As with any good story, you need to include who, what, when, where, why and how. Who are you trying to help with this campaign?

  • What do you hope to accomplish and use funds for?
  • When do you need to do this by?
  • Where are people affected?
  • Why is this cause important to you (and to your supporters)?
  • How do you plan to make it happen?

2. Make it personal

As noted above, it’s important to tell the stories of individuals. Use examples of people that you are already helping or who are you currently trying to help. Details and specifics will have more of an impact on donors that you’re hoping to attract.

3. Make it specific

Focus on a specific goal to achieve a specific result. Write about what you’re planning to do with the money and what you’re hoping to achieve. By having a specific goal in mind, more people will be inspired to donate.

4. Make it visual

Pictures and videos will make people want to spend more time reading about your campaign, while greatly enhancing the personal connection to your cause. Make sure to use quality, relevant images and videos. According to IndieGoGo,

“Campaigns with a pitch video raise 4 times more funds than campaigns without one, so it’s clear that the crowdfunding community enjoys videos.”

For more on the power of visuals and suggested uses, see our article, Visuals: A Nonprofit Storytelling Superpower.

5. Make your donors the heroes of the story

Express how important donors are to your cause and your success. You literally can’t do this without them. That makes them the true heroes of the story that you’re writing. So make them feel important and part of a winning team.

Show that you appreciate them and the time they are taking in learning more about your cause. There may be a place built right into the platform that you’re using. Make sure to thank donors individually because this will really show how much you care.

6. Show why your organization is the right one for the job

Demonstrate why your organization is the right one to take on this cause, and why – with supporters’ help – you are the best-poised to succeed. This is a great opportunity to highlight your experience, expertise, access and proven track record.

7. Provide a compelling call to action

In order to turn a potential supporter into a hero, they must take action. While most crowdfunding platforms have a request for donations built in, your campaign will work better if the hero’s call to action is built right into the story and gives the reader a clear instruction (e.g. “Help us give students like Matthew a fighting chance, with a tax-deductible donation.”).

Action Steps: Start Your Story

Determine if Crowdfunding is Right for this Cause or Project

Crowdfunding isn’t right for every occasion when a nonprofit wants to raise money. Our infographic can help you decide if this is the right project and the right time to run a campaign for your cause.

Pick the project to get started with

Your nonprofit may have multiple projects that could use funding. Choose the one you feel is the most important to start with and has the greatest chance of success. Focus on raising money for that cause before moving onto others.

Start crafting your story

Use the tips above and begin to write your story. Focus on the individuals that you’ve helped and the reason behind why this cause is so important. Once you convey those reasons, it will show readers the importance behind it as well and inspire them to help.


This article originally appeared on dotOrgStrategy.com, where Boris shares frequent digital strategy advice for nonprofits.

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.
Filmmaker Arnon Shorr in front of The Brig Pilgrim at The Ocean Institute
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How to Fund a Jewish Pirate Movie? Crowdfund it!

Filmmaker Arnon Shorr in front of The Brig Pilgrim at The Ocean Institute

Filmmaker Arnon Shorr in front of The Brig Pilgrim at The Ocean Institute

“Ahoy matey!” or “Oy matey!”? A new short film featuring Jewish pirates just made its world premiere this month. The 10-minute short film, “The Pirate Captain Toledano”, made its world premiere at the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival on May 2nd. The latest film from OxRock Productions, “The Pirate Captain Toledano”, is the world’s first cinematic depiction of Inquisition-era Jewish pirates in the Caribbean. The film features dialogue and music in Ladino, historically-accurate replica props, and even an antique kiddush cup from Jamaica.

Inspired by having read the 2008 book Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean, filmmaker Arnon Shorr was fascinated by Jewish piracy in the wake of the Inquisition. “The way the book presents it, Jewish pirates were motivated not just by the usual pirate motivations. They sailed the seas when Spain was the maritime superpower, so Spanish ships, with the Spanish gold fleet in particular, were their primary target,” said Shorr. “These Jews had fled Spain – they were victims of the Inquisition – so there’s a sense of justice that seeps into their narrative in a way that simply doesn’t exist in typical pirate stories.”

The Pirate Captain Toledano is the world’s first cinematic depiction of Inquisition-era Jewish pirates in the Caribbean

The Pirate Captain Toledano is the world’s first cinematic depiction of Inquisition-era Jewish pirates in the Caribbean

However, time went by before Shorr seriously considered actually making a Jewish pirate film. Shorr then heard a presentation this past fall at a JENLA event by Amir Giveon, the founder of Jewcer.org, and was inspired to give the crowdfunding platform a try. The idea for “The Pirate Captain Toledano” hit Arnon all at once and he began working on his Jewcer campaign to fund it.

His Jewcer campaign wound up being successful, as Shorr was able to raise the necessary funding. “It just seems so impossible without a platform, so having a platform was very, very helpful,” says Shorr of Jewcer. “There were some things that were particular to Jewcer”, he pointed out, especially having the “non-profit status extended to our project made a difference.” Also, he noted, “Being on a Jewish crowdfunded site gave it a certain type of legitimacy”, as opposed to seeming quirky or campy on other crowdfunding websites. “Overall, it was a very good experience,” said Shorr. “I felt like I had put the project in a good place, a reliable place.”

Once Shorr had the funding, he began shooting.

Shooting the film in early December on two tall ships at The Ocean Institute in Dana Point, California, Shorr was also able to find actors and a crew who had personal connections to the history behind the film, such as the film’s star, Stephen DeCordova, who is a descendant of Caribbean Jews.

Stephen DeCordova's Jamaican Kiddush Cup

Stephen DeCordova’s Jamaican Kiddush Cup

The personal connection that DeCordova had was a special prop. “When I brought in our actor, Stephen DeCordova, to read for the role of The Captain, he brought a small kiddush cup with him. I figured he simply brought the prop from home so he’d have something to work with during the reading of the scene,” says Shorr. As it turns out, the cup had some history. DeCordova was born in the US, but comes from a Jamaican Jewish family. His mother was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and descends from Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition and came to the new world in the 16th century. The cup belonged to Stephen’s grandfather in Jamaica, and has been in the family for more generations than anyone can remember. “It was as if Stephen had reached into my script and pulled the prop right out of the pages” said Shorr. “I was honored that Stephen even offered to let us use the cup in the film!”

“The very fact that the phrase ‘Jewish pirate’ catches people by surprise is an indicator that this is a type of character that we need to see,” said Shorr. “It’s a reminder that Jews can share a cultural heritage with more than just Eastern Europe. It’s a reminder that a stereotype, whether it’s positive or negative, is still a stereotype.”

For updates on “The Pirate Captain Toledano” as well as future festival showings, you can check out the film’s Facebook page.

 

(An earlier version of this article appears at Jewlicious.)

Drew Kaplan
No stranger to information-sharing on the Internet, Drew Kaplan has been blogging for over a decade. With many interests, including Jewish life, beer, and Star Wars, Drew continues to share news, knowledge, and more.

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 help@jewcer.com and we’ll be there to answer you!

Amir Give'on
Amir is Jewcer’s professional geek. By training, he is a mechanical and aerospace engineer and constantly creating new ideas. But he is constantly thinking of ways to recruit projects and create components to build the most successful Jewish crowdfunding platform designed to benefit the Jewish people and Israel. His drive stems from his passion for Israel advocacy and connecting Israelis with Jewish Americans. Amir has never-ending energy and personal determination to be in a state of constant creation.