Birthright Israel was founded in 1999 by a core group of dedicated Jewish Philanthropists intending to address the growing divide between young Jewish adults in the Diaspora and the State of Israel. The program offers a free, life-changing, 10-day trip to Israel to young Jewish adults between the ages of 18 and 26. In offering this unique experience, Birthright Israel aims to strengthen Jewish identity, build a lasting bond with the land and people of Israel, and ultimately to transform the Jewish future.
Now in its 16th year, what began as a “start-up” idea has developed into an international movement, with over 500,000 participants from across the globe since its inception and with the capacity to shape and create a lasting impact on Jewish life and Jewish communities long into the future. Based in Israel, the organization currently sends 45,000 young Jewish adults each year on this educational trip. In addition, approximately 8,000 Israeli young adults join the participants for at least half of the 10 day trip in the Mifgash programs. Taglit-Birthright Israel has a budget of $135M, made possible through partnerships with the State of Israel, the Jewish Federation system and Keren Hayesod, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and thousands of individual donors from around the world. The hundreds of thousands of alumni of the program form the core of those who will sustain Jewish communities in the Diaspora for generations to come.
Independent research conducted by Brandeis University’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies found that over two-thirds of participants said the trip made them feel “very much” closer to Israel, and more than half said that the trip “very much” influenced their sense of connection to their Jewish heritage.
In the founding year of Birthright Israel, there were roughly 9,000 participants and that number has grown rapidly. It became clear that a major fundraising expansion would be necessary to make the gift of this 10-day trip possible for every young Jewish adult. Thus, the Birthright Israel Foundation was formed.
The Birthright Israel Foundation
The Birthright Israel Foundation, based in New York, is the organization responsible for raising funds in the United States to support Birthright Israel. The Foundation is led by a prestigious national board, which is dedicated to raising the funds required to provide the Birthright Israel experience to thousands of young adults each year.
Today, the Foundation has built a base of financial support through philanthropy, raising $46-$48 million each year from over 32,000 donors who make gifts annually ranging from $18 to multiple millions of dollars.
While Birthright Israel’s founding funders continue to enthusiastically support the program, they have been joined in recent years by over 70 donors who have contributed at least $100,000 per year, including several million dollar annual commitments. The founding funders and others also contribute additional funds to support new programs that expand the range of program offerings to meet the changing interests of potential participants.
During the past five years, the Foundation has experienced growth in annual dollars raised, number of donors, the range of fundraising programs and activities as well as designated funds. Headquartered in New York City, the Foundation has a current annual operating budget of $14M and 45 staff members, including major gift officers, representatives in eleven regional offices, and growing direct mail and online giving program, marketing, finance and IT professionals.
Birthright Israel is at an interesting transition point as it builds on its history of impactful programs while continuing to innovate and create experiences that will attract more of the thousands of young Jewish adults who are eligible for the trip experience but have not yet participated. The Birthright Israel Foundation is also at a transition moment, challenged to create a fundraising strategy and operation that will provide increasing annual revenue and a depth of support throughout the country to ensure that Birthright Israel’s successful programs will be supported and sustained for future generations. The Foundation’s leadership is deeply committed to its fundraising success and several board task forces have begun to consider new strategies and opportunities for growth.
The President of the Birthright Israel Foundation will lead a fundraising program that supports the most successful, innovative and visible program to be introduced into the Jewish community in decades. Hundreds of thousands of young American Jews and their families have benefited from the trips, evident in the formal research, media reports, and anecdotal stories that tell of the ongoing impact of the experience on participants. Birthright Israel is arguably one of the most recognized and important “brands” in Jewish life today.
The President will inherit an organization that has expanded its donor base, staff and budget over the past five years. Following an initial increase in dollars raised, the fundraising program has fallen short of its goals in the recent campaigns. The leadership is seeking a President who, after careful evaluation of the organization and its resources, will develop a comprehensive, multi-year fundraising plan that builds upon the Foundation’s successes and significantly advances two key areas:
- To grow its major donor programs, which focus on expanding the number of significant annual and multi-year supporters. This must include enhancing major donor stewardship and communications.
- To invest in and expand those programs that will build the number of donors at all levels – creating a pipeline of support in communities across the country. These programs should include developing more robust outreach to trip alumni and their families, augmenting the regional professionals and lay support in major cities, and expanding social media and digital platforms.
The President, in consultation with the Board, will align the use of the Foundation’s financial resources and staff to support the achievement of annual goals. The fundraising strategic plan will have metrics and clear accountabilities to measure achievement in key areas.
As a manager, the President will be expected to create an inspiring fundraising culture at the Foundation. Working closely with the senior staff and others, s/he will set goals, monitor performance and results, and be an active mentor to and partner with the fundraising staff in helping them reach their goals. S/he will hire professionals with expertise in key areas to build out strategies and programs that will advance key fundraising objectives. Preparing budgets and reporting to the Board regarding the financial status of the Foundation is also a key responsibility.
As a fundraiser, the President will play a significant role in the major donor activities as a solicitor and supervisor. S/he will be expected to build and manage a significant portfolio of major donors and prospects and to work closely with the staff working in this area. S/he will also serve as a primary staff liaison to Board members, donors and others who are active solicitors, encouraging and supporting their activity.
The President will work closely with members of the Foundation’s Board of Directors both independent of and at Board meetings. Preparing meetings that are substantive, interesting, and meaningful will be important for Board members’ understanding of key issues and for engaging them in the overall fundraising effort.
S/he will also work closely with the Taglit-Birthright Israel leadership in Israel and North America. In addition, both the Israeli leadership and Foundation staff have responsibilities and relationships with selected donors and Federations. Collaboration regarding contact and communications is critical.
The President will also work closely with the executives of Jewish Federations as well as JFNA to expand their support of Birthright and collaborate regarding connections to donors who may be interested in supporting the program.
The President, together with Board leaders and staff, will be expected to be a spokesperson for Birthright in the United States and have a visible profile among key professional, lay and donor constituencies.
The leadership seeks an accomplished and inspiring professional to be the Foundation’s leader in setting goals, creating strategies, deploying resources, motivating staff and lay volunteers, and in ensuring excellence in executing plans.
The new President will work to craft and project the message and materials that articulate the impact that the trips have on the individuals, their families and the Jewish future.
Strategic Vision, Leadership & Executive Management
- Provide and develop strategic vision and leadership for the organization, the Board, and staff.
- Lead and inspire members of the Board, staff, donors and stakeholders in supporting the vision, goals, and objectives established by the Foundation.
- Develop long-term and annual plans and objectives, ensure plan implementation and execution, and oversee that the leadership team regularly monitors progress.
- Execute and implement strategies and programs which carry out the shared vision formulated with lay leadership.
- Assume responsibility for all operations of the Birthright Israel Foundation.
- Lead, manage, and mentor senior staff; assess and develop talent with an emphasis upon consistently high-performing teams.
- Ensure that the Foundation’s human resources, operations and technology are aligned to effectively meet its goals and expectations.
- Maintain and strengthen the Foundation’s relationship with the Taglit-Birthright Israel program’s professional staff in Israel and North America.
- Oversee the design and implementation of a social media platform and digital campaign(s) for alumni and other donors.
- Develop a strategic and collaborative fundraising plan that includes ways to deepen and diversify the funding base; increase restricted and unrestricted funds from all constituencies; carefully monitor the costs associated with fundraising; and ensure that internal resources are appropriately utilized.
Play a major role in the cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of new individual and institutional donors capable of making significant contributions to the Foundation. Maintain relationships with existing major donors and deepen those alliances through regular, relevant communications and stewardship. Maintain and enhance relationships with JFNA and Jewish Federations. Oversee the implementation of a digital platform for the enhancement of online giving and ongoing communication with alumni and other supporters.
- Serve as principal spokesperson and advocate for the Foundation, its mission and strategic direction, as well as acting as a visible, visionary and influential leader and fundraiser in the United States.
- Work with the Executive Committee and full Board to shape, focus and prioritize future plans for the Foundation. Plan Board and Executive Committee meetings and agendas.
- Participate in Board meetings and provide continuous information and insights regarding all internal operations and any relevant local, regional, national or international issues.
- Serve as a professional advisor to the Board to support its leadership role and bolster its ability to make informed decisions.
- Provide assistance to the Board in its ongoing recruitment and retention of members with particular knowledge, skills and relationships that are useful to Birthright Israel Foundation’s organizational development.
- Passion for Birthright and its mission, and ability to inspire others to work for and support its work.
- Experienced senior executive from the nonprofit, business or government arena who has led an organization of comparable size and complexity.
- Experienced major gift solicitor, as a professional or volunteer leader, with the confidence to cultivate relationships with and solicit contributions from mega donors and prospects. A person who welcomes the opportunity for travel and stewarding relationships with donors and prospects.
- A fundraising strategist with experience in developing and managing a range of fundraising techniques and programs ranging from major donors programs to digital and social media platforms.
- Experience in a national organization with regional representatives and leadership groups.
- A manager who has created and executed upon comprehensive and detailed strategic plans with qualitative and quantitative metrics for tracking accountability and success.
- A manager of headquarter and off-site staff with the ability to monitor, motivate and evaluate performance. Experience in leading and motivating a fundraising/sales program and staff.
- Experience in working with and motivating volunteer boards and committees.
- Understanding of American Jewish communal organizations, their leaders and relationships.
- Understanding of trends in American Jewish life and how Birthright can affect or is affected by them.
- Knowledge about current events, trends and issues affecting Israel and Israel-Diaspora relations. Experiences in Israel and/or working with Israeli counterparts would be a plus.
- Experience as a public speaker and organization spokesperson.
- The position is based in New York.
Please submit a resume and cover letter to: Birthright@drgnyc.com