March 1, 2007
What we need: Philanthropreneurship
(Page 2 - Previous Page)"We continue to operate this community on an infrastructure for 80,000 people," federation director Sokolsky told me. "Physically, our institutions are old and outdated. In just their appearance, what kind of message do they give people, particularly young people, who see a new city of extraordinary imagination rising around them? It says that the Jewish community is old and outdated. It does not instill pride in being or remaining part of this community."
He continued, "We need to raise money not only from committed Jews but from those Jews who are giving us minimal money as they give gifts of $10 million to $50 million to the university, the museum, the opera and the hospital. How do we do that?"
Sokolsky and I began discussions with potential mega-donors, finding out why they would give this kind of money to non-Jewish causes but not to Jewish ones. We found that they believed in Jewish causes, but not in the ability of Jewish institutions to steward multimillion-dollar gifts.
They did trust that the university, opera house and museum could, but they didn't see the Jewish community at the same level of class or imagination. They didn't see it as a place of big ideas that would have an effect upon more than the Jewish community itself. They didn't see it at the same level of prestige.
We knew we needed to design marketing strategies that spoke to these concerns as well as the donors' Jewish pride, targeted at a very selective group of donors. We had learned that the donors were both proud and concerned about the city of Toronto; it was an integral part of their identity. They wanted to be identified as essential to the changing, emerging city and the legacy they would leave.
We named the effort The Tomorrow Campaign and branded it as "The City.'' The message was that by building the Jewish community at this level, they were actually helping build the city of Toronto and its new spirit.
Through the campaign, donors had the opportunity to become city builders, something that may happen only once in a century. We added that Jews always had been essential to the building of great cities, and this was their legacy for the great city of Toronto. Big ideas were presented for The Tomorrow Campaign that rivaled the ideas of the Royal Ontario Museum, the opera, the theaters and the university.
As campaign chairs, Sokolsky enlisted two of Canada's leading businessmen and philanthropists -- Gerry Schwartz and Larry Tannenbaum, the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs. After the first few big gifts were committed, a public launch was held at the Toronto Design Exchange.
Federal and Ontario government representatives attended, along with the mayors of Toronto and Vaughan. They hailed The Tomorrow Campaign as the largest philanthropic initiative ever in Canada, and essential to the city's growth. The launch was covered by Canada's major newspapers and media outlets.
In the beginning there was concern for the federation's annual campaign if the community embarked upon this massive fundraising effort, yet it hasn't suffered: As a result of a bold vision, the annual campaign has more than doubled in five years.
Toronto's experience has shown that annual campaigns that remain flat need to follow a plan of philanthropreneurship. They cannot be in the lead; they must follow the big vision and ideas.
Philanthropreneurship is not a theory, it's now a proven course of action. Canada, which Americans like to say is behind, is actually way ahead.
1 | 2