Orthodox Union’s Maury Litwack and Rabbi Simon Taylor Discuss Best Practices for Nonprofit Fundraising at Jewish Networking Event

23 Dec 2022

Third Annual Tribeworks Conference, Organized by Senior Orthodox Union Board Members, Draws Hundreds of Business and Nonprofit Leaders

Left to right: OU Managing Director and Founder of Teach Coalition Maury Litwack, and National Director of the OU’s Community Projects and Partnerships Rabbi Simon Taylor

Almost 500 business and nonprofit leaders met this month on Staten Island for a day of networking at an event called “Starting and Scaling a Business or Non-Profit.”

The participants gathered to learn from each other at the third annual event which included both entrepreneurs and vendors. Tribeworks, an organization comprised of 18 Jewish nonprofits, hosted the conference. The group aims to improve the success of entrepreneurs in the Jewish community by providing critical resources. The event took place at the Hilton Garden Inn.

The Orthodox Union played a crucial role in the event: Orthodox Union Senior Board Members Zevy Wolman and Ezra Freidberg, who are among the founders of Tribeworks, were key in bringing the conference to fruition and running the event – along with the intensive work of their staffs.

And, among the many speakers, Orthodox Union Managing Director and Founder of Teach Coalition Maury Litwack, and Orthodox Union National Director of Community Projects and Partnerships Rabbi Simon Taylor spoke about Jewish non-profit leadership in 2023 during one of the event panels. They were joined by Agudath Israel of America National Director of Development Rabbi Naftali Miller.

The three men discussed how to set fundraising goals, how to turn donors into ambassadors for an organization’s cause, how to address some of the biggest challenges of 2023, and how to develop an elevator pitch.

Litwack said nonprofits not only fulfill a variety of communal needs but also present opportunities for donors to contribute to causes that matter most to them. To emphasize how meaningful nonprofit work is, he asked audience members whether they would continue in their jobs even if they were to win the lottery. In response, almost all participants raised their hands.

Rabbi Taylor noted the importance of including benefactors in an organization’s work.

“It’s critical you don’t see donors as simply check-writers,” he said. “Fundraisers should view asking donors for support as presenting them with a unique opportunity to get more involved with their cause.”

Rabbi Taylor also noted that the onset of Covid presented an unusual challenge for bringing in new supporters: “Fundraisers were nervous to approach potential donors during uncertain Covid times. But ultimately they realized that their cause was too important to just sit back and not take action.”

Yehuda Shmidman, chairman and CEO at WHP Global and Toys “R” Us, and Ira Zlotowitz, founder and CEO at real estate technology platform GPARENCY, delivered the event’s two keynote speeches.