July 6, 2009
As a staff person at a foundation, I spend lots of time thinking about social change, how its made, which models are strong and which aren't as strong.
Keshet is one of a handful of organizations (i.e. fewer than five) that is in the top tier in terms of strong social change models among all of the foundation's grantees.
In addition to excellent execution, which is a prerequisite, the aspect of Keshet's model I find most compelling its combination of two strategies.
On the one hand, they work with individuals, helping folks see that there is a way to integrate the GLBT aspect of their identity with the Jewish aspect of their identity.
On the other hand, they work with mainstream Jewish institutions (e.g. synagogues, JCCs, camps, schools) to help them recognize a) that they may not be as welcoming and inclusive as they think they are, and b) how to be more welcoming and inclusive.
Either of these approaches by themselves would be important work. The combination of the two is far more than the sum of the individual parts.
The fact that Keshet has chosen to "grow" by spreading/sharing what its learned rather than scaling up its infrastructure in multiple cities is another smart, resourceful decision by the organization.
Finally, institutions that come to realize that they weren't as welcoming and inclusive as they thought they were in terms of GLBT folks are, in my opinion, highly likely to ask the obvious next question. Namely, "Who else doesn't feel as welcome and included as we might think?" Interfaith couples, Jews of color, folks with physical, mental or learning differences could all appear on the institution's radar in a new way.
Because of this ripple effect, I think of Keshet not simply as a GLBT organization, but as an organization that's bringing about a more inclusive, welcoming Jewish community in general.
Any funder that is looking forward to the day when the Jewish community welcomes, includes and helps unleash the potential involvement of every individual has a great investment opportunity in Keshet.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
the growing numbers of GLBT folks who have a Jewish outlet and the growing number of institutions that are becoming more welcoming and inclusive of GLBT folks.
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Donor & I evaluate Keshet's change model and recommend support to my board of directors.