Fundraisers find strength in World ORT’s international network

World ORT has turned its expertise in training to its own staff, bringing together 24 fundraising professionals from 10 countries for an intensive five-day seminar in Israel.

World ORT Director General and CEO Avi Ganon: “An organisation that isn’t learning won’t advance.”

Each year, the world’s largest Jewish education and vocational training NGO stages several highly regarded international seminars for educators, students and school managers but this is the first time the format has been used for those raising money to pay for them.

“The philanthropic sector is more competitive than ever; it’s no longer enough to be doing a great job, we have to be able to show existing and prospective supporters the importance of our impact and explain effectively why they should invest in us,” said World ORT Director General and CEO Avi Ganon.

“In this fast-paced, competitive environment, our fundraisers cannot rely on the considerable skills they have accumulated – they have to expand and extend them. This seminar is the first step in helping them stay at the top of their game.”

The seminar comes just one month after a similar one for educators and managers from six countries, who gathered at World ORT in London to discuss the education network’s needs and aspirations. Holding both events was a priority for Mr Ganon when he assumed the position as head of World ORT last year.

“Together we’re finding practical solutions which will enhance our role as the Ministry of Education for the Jewish People,” Mr Ganon said.

The fundraising seminar opened in Be’er Sheva on Sunday but workshops with external experts were also held in Kfar Silver, Dimona, and Kfar Hasidim, which also gave participants the opportunity to visit World ORT Kadima Mada programmes.

Proud: ORT America CEO Jeffrey Cooper and ORT Michigan Director Nicole Miller at the transformed Kfar Hasidim Youth Village.

“I was so proud to see the amazing impact on the school at Kfar Hasidim Youth Village as a result of our community in Detroit joining forces,” said ORT America’s Michigan Region Director, Nicole Miller.

Thanks to funds raised, the run down school has been transformed – new classrooms, laboratories, an auto-tech facility, and sports facilities have made it an institution where children, many of whom come from challenging backgrounds, can learn with dignity.

Notably, seminar participants included representatives of operational ORT national organisations as well as those national organisations, like ORT America and ORT UK, which are devoted to fundraising.

“Operational countries such as Russia, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa do raise money locally for their programmes; this is the first step to help them raise more,” said World ORT Chief Operating Officer Dan Green, who organised the seminar together with World ORT Chief Relationship Officer Avital Govrin.

Mr Green said the seminar had given participants a “great sense of global community”, a practical result of which was exemplified by ORT South Africa National Director Ariellah Rosenberg.

“It’s been a phenomenal seminar; it’s given us tools to work with,” she said. “And the connections with colleagues from other countries give us ideas for potential future projects. We’re now looking to work collaboratively with ORT UK, for example.”

Mr Ganon emphasised that the seminar was only the first in a series of meetings which would be held regularly to deal with professional matters.

“This is not a one-off,” he said. “We found areas where we can improve. And that’s important; an organisation that isn’t learning won’t advance. We are moving forward with better coordination between our national organisations and improved communication internationally.”