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November 10, 2010 9:38 pm

Why Donors Like Chabad

avatar by Dovid Efune

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Chabad donor Lev Leviev.

This past weekend saw two mammoth Jewish gatherings take place. The first was the General Assembly for the Jewish Federations of North America, and the other was the International Convention of Chabad Emissaries. Whilst both are awe inspiring in their grandeur and both are focused on Jewish continuity, the Chabad movement continues to rapidly grow at a spanking pace and the Federations appear to be largely stagnant.

The JFNA is a well oiled machine with an established infrastructure, smooth mechanisms and operational hierarchy. By contrast, although there are a number of supporting bodies, from an organizational perspective, Chabad in some ways appears as a haphazard band of ragtag rabbis independently operating without any authoritative organizational body, with no central CEO or board of directors and no endowment, trust fund or investment portfolio.

As opposed to the Federations, there are few, if any, studies, polls, or annual reports conducted within the Chabad movement, and none are able to quantify the precise number of its members. One would be hard pressed to find a flow chart or academic assessment of Chabad’s growth, although agreement is unanimous: Chabad is growing rapidly.

Chabad institutions have attracted some of the most sophisticated and advanced business and industry leaders as donors. At the concluding banquet of the conference this week the guests included the likes of Michael Steinhardt, Guma Aguiar, Lev Leviev, Eduardo Elsztain, Ronald Lauder and many others. Gennady Bogolubov delivered the keynote speech.

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At first glance one may wonder why the informality doesn’t drive away savvy investors that are used to detailed reports, due diligence and rigorous accountability. The answer is simple; when one gives money to Chabad, one can rest assured that they will see the fruits of their contribution. Donating to Chabad embodies what has become known as true venture philanthropy or entrepreneurial idealism.

Of course any shrewd investor will appreciate the value of a deal, whatever package it is presented in, especially in today’s fast paced world where giants of industry demand immediate ROI.  Chabad will deliver exactly that: instant tangible results. Donations are not swallowed up by antiquated mechanical financial infrastructures; there is no red tape, application processes, panels or mazes of bureaucracy. The Chabad institutions are focused on the immediacy of the task at hand, and are innately adverse to anything that will slow it down.

Additionally, donors can always rest assured that a donation to a Chabad establishment will support a Jewish cause. The Federations, by contrast, earmark large contributions for general humanitarian causes in the spirit of ‘Tikkun Olam,’ but with so many modern day Jewish challenges to contend with, many donors are making the statement that our own should come first.

Much of the donor interest in Chabad can be further crystallized by making a comparison to the Tea Party movement. The movement’s primary concerns include, but are not limited to, cutting back the size of government,  reducing wasteful spending, reducing the national debt and  adherence to an original interpretation of the United States Constitution.

Chabad’s primary concerns include cutting back the top-down, parochial mode of Jewish practice, maximizing the use of every philanthropic dollar, (there are no earmarks or pork barrel spending) lifting the pride and confidence of the Jewish people, and adherence to an original interpretation of Jewish law.

Chabad is a purist, entrepreneurial, visionary and versatile, completely action-oriented and results-driven organization. If you are an industrious venture philanthropist looking for immediate high returns, there is no better investment.

The Author is the director of the Algemeiner Journal and the GJCF and can be e-mailed at defune@gjcf.com. Please visit www.gjcf.com for more information.

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