WHO AM I?
NAME: David Fox
TITLE AND COMPANY: Chief Development Officer, Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County
YEARS WITH THE COMPANY: Started summer 2016
YEARS IN COUNTY: Living in Boynton Beach since summer 2016
NATURE OF BUSINESS: Relationship Building and Financial Resource Development. I view my role as Jewish Federation’s chief relationship builder in the community. I work with a talented team of dedicated people who work to create meaningful partnerships with our generous community members. We want to help people achieve their philanthropic goals and give to what they are passionate about. Jewish Federation has a variety of giving opportunities for donors of all levels to invest in causes they care deeply about – like the Annual Campaign, Women’s Philanthropy, our capital campaign, designated giving, and legacy giving.
EDUCATION: Master of Science, Public Service, DePaul University
Bachelor of Science, Political Science, DePaul University
HOMETOWN: Chicago, Illinois
What is the most significant change you’ve seen in your industry over the past year?
A serious focus on building for the future. Nationally, Jewish communal organizations have a lot of work to do to plan for the future needs of their communities. At Jewish Federation, we are inspiring more people to protect and build upon their investment in our community with legacy gifts through our Jewish Community Foundation.
Meanwhile, the number of Jewish households in our local community is expected to nearly double in the next decade. This means more opportunities to connect people with Federation’s work to change lives for the better. This year, we took a step in the right direction by successfully completing our first increased Annual Campaign in five years. We can now put in place a strategic plan to inspire more participation and giving going forward.
What improvements, innovations or changes do you foresee in your industry in the coming year or two? What about further in the future?
I always ask people, “How can we help you achieve your philanthropic goals?” More and more, donors are motivated by causes that are important to them. Instead of asking donors to do things our way, we are providing flexible options for donors to achieve their goals. It might sound obvious, but it’s a major shift from the way nonprofits have operated for years.
We often say that Federation is building a bright Jewish future. We can deliver on that promise in a new and meaningful way now that our community has been accepted into the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s national Life & Legacy program. Significant grants are now available to partner agencies, synagogues and other Jewish institutions to promote after-lifetime giving. Anyone who cares about the Jewish community now has even more reason to support their day school, synagogue, social service agency or other communal organization well into the future.
What are three key challenges your industry is facing? How is your industry responding to these? How is your company responding to these?
We are seeing the greatest transfer of wealth in history. In addition, the older Jewish population made it a priority to invest in the Jewish community, while younger people today have extremely diverse interests and thousands of competing charities from which to choose. It’s vital that we remind them of the impact of supporting causes that affect the Jewish people here in the Palm Beaches, in Israel and around the world. Plus, today’s donors expect to understand exactly where their money is going. We have to provide opportunities for people to give the way in which they want.
Contributions made to Federation’s Annual Campaign are invested in causes locally and globally based on the needs and priorities of our community. Part of my team’s job is to ensure people understand that their giving to Federation will create the greatest impact on the causes they care about and that reflect Jewish values.
Name the top three elements or practices that have been absolutely critical in the success of your business?
First, I’ve always focused on bringing together a professional team that is absolutely dedicated to our cause and building relationships with people in the community who share that passion. We then equip our team with training and ongoing professional development to best capitalize on opportunities to strengthen our community.
Second, it’s key that we motivate the strongest advocates in our community to step forward into Jewish community leadership roles.
Third, we have to celebrate and show gratitude to our generous donors. Fundraising is only one aspect of what we do – we’re truly about creating strong, meaningful partnerships with people 365 days a year. Our goal is for donors to look to us as their philanthropic advisors who help them achieve their aspirations.
What are two things you’d like to change about your industry now? Your company?
It’s challenging to compete with the private sector in attracting high-caliber talent because of the compensation gap. This gap will likely never completely close, but I’d like industry standards to allow for people who feel strongly about a cause to make it their livelihood and pursue their passion.
One of my goals is
to continue to move toward a more inclusive and welcoming Federation. We’d like to be seen as the City Hall of the Jewish community. People can look to us to connect to Jewish life in many different ways – volunteering, advocating for Israel, participating in a global experience, or empowering a response to Jewish causes through their generosity.
What’s your “superpower?”
It’s not exactly a super power, but I’m a decisions guy. I can quickly gather the thoughts, rationale and perspectives of the talented people around me, then make a decision and move forward confident that we’ve made the right call.
What are you proudest of in 2016?
It’s been a phenomenal and memorable year at Federation. I’ve been honored to be accepted into such a unique Jewish community and take part in the life-changing work of this organization. I’m excited to lend my expertise to make Federation and our community even stronger.
For my family, this has been a year of new beginnings and changes. We moved from New York City to be closer to family, and recently we welcomed our second son.
What is your “finish line?” Or, what does success look like to you for 2016?
While I’m fairly new here, I’m thrilled to have been part of the first increased annual campaign for Jewish Federation in five years. Community members contributed an astonishing $15.6 million to our annual campaign, $500,000 of which was new or increased gifts that were matched by the Kaufman-Baklor Challenge Grant.
With this kind of momentum, excitement and pride in our Jewish community, it’s a really exciting time to be involved with Federation.
How is social media impacting your industry or business this year? What’s in store for 2017?
Today donors – especially younger ones – want to see the immediate and ongoing impact of their contributions. Social media enables us to share in real time how people’s donations are saving and improving lives. This is especially crucial during times of crisis when we launch emergency relief campaigns.
In 2017 and beyond, we’ll continue to use social media to connect community members with the people at home and around the world whose lives are made so much better through our community’s involvement and generosity. They are what it’s all about. ¦