Global, Justice, Politics, Religion

The Revolution Will Not Be Funded

Dan “Mobius” Sieradski, founder of Jewschool, gave this speech yesterday at the GA.

Yet it is my belief that the next big Jewish idea will not be hatched inside a board room. It will not be the result of a research study. It will not come from within an institution at all. Rather, the next big Jewish idea will be the work of a young, independently minded individual seeking to address the needs of his or her own self or his or her own immediate community.
But the next big Jewish idea will not meet institutional funding guidelines — or at least, that’s what the rejection letters will say. It will be for any number of reasons: The project is too local; too global; too narrow; too ambitious; the subject too political; the creators too eccentric. Perhaps they’re more creatively-minded than business-minded and are thus bad at writing grants. Maybe they’re too young, or too idealistic.
And sometimes the grantmaker themselves are so disconnected from the realities of what the Jewish public needs — like the funders who don’t even have a computer on their desks — that you’re done before you’ve even started. Sometimes funders just don’t get it; or they do get it and they feel threatened by it. They’re afraid to give up too much control. They want safer bets.

Read on.

19 thoughts on “The Revolution Will Not Be Funded

  1. I like that model: fiscal sponsorship shelter for any project making minimum criteria, matching federation gifts to individual gifts via an online philanthropy portal, more focus on training and supporting, a few extra Bikkurims — a comprehensive proposal.

  2. Hasn’t the upgrade in the quality of this site, the more mature debates, the less rancor, the higher quality of the postings and the responses, all since Mobius was booted out, demonstrate that Mobius does not deserve to be referenced at all?

  3. Mobius was booted out
    Mobius booted himself out for professional reasons, my friend. We on the editorial board were sad to see him go.
    And am I the only one laughing about your “less rancor” comment?

  4. I’ve sat on the other side of the desk (the side with the money) and I have to say that it is VERY hard for an institution, no matter how well-meaning, or how much it wants to fund independent projects to do so if they don’t meet “minimum criteria” which is the issue with most of these new projects.
    The other problem is that often young entrepreneurs (social or business) don’t have the resources, the experience, or the knowledge to apply for the right grants. Institutions are hamstrung by not only their boards, but their funding guidelines, put in place to keep non-profits from becoming tax shelters.
    The answer? Alternative funding. Don’t look to the institutional world, or for “angel” donors, chances are they’ll want you to compromise your vision to fit with their programmatic goals. Look for microgrants from many smaller sources. Fund raise from your constituency. Only once your program is proven will the institutions back you. Sad, but true.

  5. I watched (the video version that is), I listened and I liked! Well apart from the unnecessary hip-hop hand gesturing that is. But seriously for all the grief people give Daniel and despite his occasional predisposition towards not using his quiet inside voice when he probably should. He is a good guy with a good heart and he does more than most!
    I for one really liked his idea about the micro loan/funding website/blogg thingy and hope that “the powers that be” give it some serious consideration.
    Be well!

  6. Rooftopper, I on the other hand, found him to be a bullying, intolerant immature little boy who owned the marbles and therefor thought he owned the ground on which the marbles were placed. This site is a far better place without him.

  7. Hey I just tried to post a comment and it ended up in some sort of moderation bin.
    I have posted comments here many times in the past and thats never happened to me before, so whats up?

  8. TikkunGer, did your comment include any links?
    The default in WordPress (and I think Jewschool still uses the default) is to have comments with more than one link get sent to the principal’s office. That seems to be the most common reason comments get held up on their way to public greatness.

  9. incorrect, I do not want to make this thread a referendum on mobius, but I do have the say that I really appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears he put into this site, and that he continues to pour into making the Jewish world a better place.
    I you are not enjoying yourself here, please, desist from reading and posting. It really is that simple. There are plenty of centrist and right-wing Jewish blogs where you will find folks who share your positions. If you want to continue to learn and dialogue with us here, please refrain from personal attacks. Ok?

  10. I concur totally with Apes. I appreciate challenges to the intellectual ideas presented on this site, it’s why I love it. Please comment on the substance of what’s written. But it’s also a playground for adults. If you don’t like, go away.

  11. I miss Mobius. When he was here there was a MUCH higher volume of posts. And he would do the roundup posts that covered all the highlights of the the week. I used to only have to go to Jewschool to cath up on what was new in the Jewish world and now I have to go to the papers and other blogs to get the same coverage.

  12. I think Mobius was on target with this. I’m just sorry I was too busy with school and work to make it to the GA. (Lame excuse, I know. I friggin’ /live/ in Nashville.)
    I have been a Jewschool reader (and less frequent poster) for a year or two. I’ve almost always found Mobius’s energy and ideas to be a steady source of — when not inspiration — at least food for thought. I was always thankful for his presence. And for anyone who found him a constant annoyance/convenient target for aggression: I advise you to be thankful as well; you didn’t have to look as hard for the fight you were looking for.

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