Yeshiva University Wurzweiler School Launches Revolutionary Online Philanthropy Certificate Program

By: Ailin Elyasi  |  December 14, 2017

Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler school of social work has launched a revolutionary online Certificate Program in Jewish Philanthropy to address the changing needs of Jewish nonprofits.

Since developers in nonprofit organizations have recognized the growing need for soliciting major gifts from donors as essential to running any nonprofit, Wurzweiler aims to share practical and theoretical advice to raise successful fundraisers. Ruth Messinger, the Global Ambassador at the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), emphasizes that “there is going to be a need for nonprofits to be smart about everything they do. [Nonprofits need] to be more strategic, more focused, to do more advocacy, but also to be able to raise more money.”

While the program serves the need of nonprofits, the skills it teaches will also serve the needs of those looking to enter nonprofits by making them more qualified for the job. Dr. Saul Andron, the Hausman Chair in Communal Social Work at Wurzweiler and the Coordinator of the certificate program, highlights the “acute shortage of skilled fundraisers” and the marketable potential of this certificate for developers in the nonprofit world.

An online branch of the program will be launching in January 2018 consisting of two courses, one which falls under core requirement and one which falls under elective requirement. But perhaps most importantly, the program has a practical mentoring aspect from notable professionals in the field of fundraising. The optional mentoring component facilitates the needs of the specific fundraising office or development team, advertising customized learning programs and online classes. “In addition to hearing from professionals on various panels, you are also given the opportunity to role play with your peers and have the practical experience.” said recently certified Breanne Matloff, the Senior Director of Development at JCC Manhattan.

Notably, the program has a specific learning component about women’s philanthropy. Dr. Andron explains that “women are prominent players in philanthropy and fundraising in the Jewish community, assuming major roles as principals and senior professionals at foundations, federations, synagogues, a range of Jewish legacy organizations and start up ventures. They play prominent roles in giving circles and other donor-centered giving vehicles that address challenges and needs of particular interest and concern to women.” However, the program caters to both women and men, and positive reviews came from all recent graduates questioned.

Testimonials from recently certified fundraisers speak to the efficacy of the program. A Development Associate from AJWS, Mr. Henry Barkley, attests that “The Certificate program has provided me with a new and widened perspective through which I am exploring my career choices in fundraising and Jewish community philanthropy. I have gained new confidence in my experience, knowledge and skill set directly as a result of my participation in the program.”

When asked about facilitating donors to help with positive Jewish causes, Dr. Andron explained that his father also fundraised, and his father shared a tidbit of wisdom that still drives Dr. Andron’s current fundraising today: “[My father] used to tell me classic UJA stories of intensive fundraising caucuses where the old school UJA fundraisers would berate his group to give until it hurts. My father countered in his own fundraising pitch that one should give until it feels good–like one has done his share to strengthen the Jewish community and sustain vibrant Jewish life.”