Year-end giving: Let’s make it year-round giving

By Dana Rubin • Development Director

My best friend from college – and to this day – has had a varied and wonderful career in the informal Jewish education space, most currently as an independent consultant for Jewish educational experiences and curriculum. Throughout her career, the organizations she worked with have been the recipients of philanthropic dollars from grants, family foundations, and individuals.

In many of these cases, Robyn has been the grant writer and grant manager for awarded funds. In addition, she has helped develop curriculum, facilitate, and train staff for teen philanthropy programs and subsequently participated in national conversations around the curriculum and growth of the field of Jewish-teen philanthropy.

Dana Rubin

Robyn has always identified herself as a Jewish education professional, a grantee, a trainer, a mentor, and an occasional sporadic charitable giver, but not until recently did Robyn see herself as an intentional donor and philanthropist.

I can tell you that Robyn’s journey – which took her from Jewish educator and grantee to serious donor and philanthropist – is actually one many of us should see a reflection of in ourselves. While most of us are not Jewish professionals, we are working in some capacity as a professional. We could all consider ourselves to be educators, whether it is formally or informally, and all of us have been on the receiving end of the generosity of others.

What I think most people don’t recognize in themselves is the ability to be a deliberate committed donor and philanthropist. Our pre-conceived notion is that you must be wealthy; that there is a minimum gift to be in this category or a status of some sort. But I am here to challenge that idea. Fidelity Charitable defines a philanthropist as a person who donates time, money, experience, skills or talent to help create a better world. Anyone can be a philanthropist, regardless of status or net worth. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a philanthropist as one who makes an active effort to promote human welfare. What Robyn didn’t see in herself was the ability, even at a minimum financial commitment, to be a purposeful, focused and steadfast donor (aka a philanthropist).

Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis serves nearly 13,000 people each year of all ages and backgrounds. We live our values every day based on Jewish concepts and teachings such as Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) or Tzedakah (the Hebrew word for charity rooted in a pursuit of justice). Giving is viewed as more than a financial transaction, it is a way for donors to have a soulful benefit, as much or more so than the recipients.

As we end the year and start 2024 (or 5784), I urge you to consider yourself with the identity of philanthropist (a purposeful faithful donor guided by core values). What are those values that have been passed down to you from previous generations? What are the values you live your life by? Remember, a value is how you conduct yourself, make day-to-day ethical decisions, and how you treat others.

While you may give to the same places or causes that your parents or grandparents did, or that your friends are involved with, you may take this opportunity to explore your own passions. Give to the places, programs and services that you care about, engage with, and provide meaning to you, your family and/or friends. The size of your gift does not matter – it is the meaningful action of giving, the feeling you get from it and the impact you have on others that makes you a philanthropist.

There are many ways to give to JFCS at year-end and year-round. You can make a gift to our annual campaign at and then click on “Give2023” (all new gifts and increases will be matched up to $57,500). There is additional information on the “Donate” web page if you are interested in other ways to give. JFCS accepts all forms of payment including Venmo and PayPal. You can make a gift from a donor advised fund, a stock gift or a tax-free distribution from your IRA if you are age 72 or older and must make a required distribution.

For more information on opportunities to donate or be involved at JFCS, please contact me at or 952-542-4803.

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