HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal

From the Board Minding Your (Money) Manners

by Lesley Zafran Issue: Money Matters

My husband is an obstetrician/gynecologist and one of the things he says he has learned is that the most intimate topic of conversation between doctor and patient is not that three letter word you would expect, but in fact money

I was always taught that money, the topic of this issue of HaYidion, is something not discussed in polite company. And yet, I find myself rebelling against this etiquette now as I realize that when talking about money is synonymous with fundraising for what I believe in—organizations like RAVSAK—then I must stand up and (forgive the pun) be counted.

Fundraising remains the fuel that powers the engines of schools and nonprofits. Like other mission-driven organizations, RAVSAK is deeply committed to the constituencies we serve, and our return is measured not in dollars but in the students who make connections between Jewish texts and their own lives; the heads of schools who transition to better leadership as a result of good mentoring; and the boards who govern their schools with greater insight and commitment to the Jewish value proposition.

But those priceless returns still require investments—investments of time, of human capital, and yes, of money.

Over this past year, RAVSAK has published four extraordinary issues of HaYidion. Each issue has shared new perspectives on important topics and blended scholarly and academic insights with practical applications as they happen in the day schools. HaYidion ensures that our day schools are ahead of the curve when it comes to new trends in learning, teaching, financial sustainability, technology and engagement of our students, to name just a few of the issues it has covered. The day school world is so much the richer for the incredible contributions to HaYidion that we receive from many of you.

Recently someone in development told me about the “Neiman Marcus Effect,” which describes how consumers believe that if they buy something from (a place like) Neiman Marcus it will be superior to a similar product purchased elsewhere because Neiman’s has a reputation for providing goods that are “the best.”

I’d like to apply this approach to fundraising, making sure that there is a complete understanding that our Jewish community day schools, and the network that supports them—our extraordinary RAVSAK—are nothing less than the finest organizations, offering a lifetime guarantee of greater Jewish involvement and a stronger Jewish future for our people. I want this to be the measure of “the best.”

I would like to invite you to make your own investment in RAVSAK: in appreciation for the value that HaYidion brings, in recognition of the mentoring that RAVSAK has provided, in honor of your professional leadership or just because you understand how much RAVSAK contributes to the day school field. We’ve included a donation envelope in the center of this issue of HaYidion. Please invest in RAVSAK so that RAVSAK can continue to invest in our schools and their leaders.

And I am going to turn my upbringing around and say that speaking about money, dare I say even asking for it, is to be encouraged when we are advocating for what matters most to our future.

Lesley Zafran is a member of RVSAK's Board of Directors and immediate past president of the Donna Klein Jewish Academy in Boca Raton, Florida. lzafran@bellsouth.net

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Money Matters

Money of course does matter, in myriad ways, to the functioning of our schools. Just as important are the perceptions about money that circulate among stakeholders: How do funders decide where to put their money? What do employees think and say about salary and work conditions? How do parents and prospective parents understand the school's value? What are the explicit and implicit messages students learn about money? Authors present guidance and reflections on the systems of day school finances while exploring the questions around school value.

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