Make-A-Wish and the Power of Data

On the surface, the average nonprofit appears very different than a business. With any for-profit franchise, the emphasis is inevitably on the bottom line—on learning how to find and leverage competitive advantages to ensure success, and to continue that growth in such a way that is sustainable for the business in the long-term.

 

As it turns out, nonprofits operate much the same way. It’s a common misconception that nonprofits don’t make money—they’re just not allowed to make a profit, as the name suggests. The money that they earn goes toward their initiatives and back into the organization to keep it running. As a result, they’re as much beholden to the tenets of a successful business like any other—perhaps more so, because in many cases, the value proposition is more abstract and harder to sell to the average consumer.

 

Despite the success of widespread philanthropic initiatives like Giving Tuesday, the average nonprofit still needs to find ways to sustain itself throughout the year. Success in this regard often hinges on the ability of an organization to spend its time efficiently, reaching its intended audience and connecting with the right donors. To do this, many have begun turning to data analytics.

 

Often used by businesses for a myriad of reasons, data analytics tools allow for nonprofits to investigate their own performance and identify potential areas of improvement. However, fewer than half of nonprofits do not take advantage of these opportunities—45 percent, according to the Salesforce Nonprofit Trends Report. Beyond that, even more nonprofits struggle to leverage the data they collect into meaningful insights that can be used to improve their business models.

 

Make-A-Wish, one of our partners here at the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation, leverages data to their advantage by not only discovering potential areas of growth but gathering statistics about the efficacy of their programs to help develop their story further. According to a Wish Impact Study, 89 percent of surveyed doctors and other medical professionals reported that they believe a wish experience can influence physical health.

 

The organization also provides information about the type of wishes granted and the frequency they fulfill them—perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of wishes granted involve travel, and a large percentage are related to the Walt Disney Company. Even with these insights alone, Make-A-Wish is able to identify and capitalize on areas of need for many of their wish kids and set up the infrastructure and partnerships necessary to both secure donors and provide an incredible experience for children and their families.

 

Nonprofits can also use data to make their donation process as efficient as possible and create easy avenues for potential donors. For Make-A-Wish, this involves a donation screen that not only suggests donation amounts but provides easy options for donating on a monthly basis. Though donation processes are regulated to some extent, studying the data of common donation patterns can give nonprofits the knowledge of what people are willing to give and remove as many barriers to entry as possible.

 

It is in the best interests of nonprofits to invest in data solutions. With Make-A-Wish, we see that not only do their data analysis efforts work to bring in more donations, but they help fulfill the needs of wish kids in the most efficient way possible.

Technology, Humanism, and Leadership—Lessons from Ana Botín

Evolving technology has forced businesses and even entire governments to reconsider the way we address societal issues even as new ones are created. So how should these systems and the individuals that lead them account for the influence of technology that hasn’t been fully regulated by law?

Though there’s inevitably no perfect answer, Ana Patricia Botín presented some of her ideas for enabling humane global growth at the University of Miami Business School back in April, as part of their Distinguished Leaders Lecture Series. Botín, executive chairman of the Santander Group, gave a presentation entitled A New Deal For The Digital Age in which she addressed how the world can adapt to change and tackle problems such as growing levels of wealth inequality.

The central issue with moving into a more digital age is the fact that much of what has been created in recent years has no precedent. Recent court cases concerning privacy, artificial intelligence, and digital currency have helped test the waters of what should or shouldn’t be tolerated. This coupled with the rise of tech giants such as Google and Amazon has cast a new light on the leeway businesses can and should have to grow and innovate. It’s a delicate balancing act where, too often, the average citizen may not have much choice in how they are affected.

According to Botín, technology has effectively lowered the barriers between many industries, causing sectors to blend together in a way they haven’t in the past.

“What is a transport company? What is a payments company?” she said. “We really need to reflect upon what is the new competitive policy and how to treat regulation.”

She spoke on the European Union’s efforts to set boundaries on privacy and the sharing of data—a hot button issue when private information is often bought and sold without an individual’s consent and data breaches can expose the sensitive information of millions. Figuring out how to both regulate and secure personal data has been a thorn in the side of many governments and businesses. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation has cracked down on the sale of data and led the charge in preserving consumer privacy and rights. They’ve also started to work on laws to help manage the propagation of propaganda, libel, and hate speech over the internet.

Botín emphasized a need to fight the world’s growing wealth inequality while still maintaining the rights of citizens. Growth is seen as positive—especially for business—but corporations may need to take an active role in knowing how to balance their own growth with the rights of citizens where laws haven’t been formed to protect them yet. This goes beyond corporate social responsibility and moves into the territory of the relationship between businesses and governments and what should be regulated on a larger scale.

Visit the University of Miami Business School’s website to learn more about Botín’s presentation and other leaders that have visited.

The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation and Children’s Homes

Lazar Finker—Children's Homes

Through our many partnerships, the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation strives to create change across generations, seeking to instill a culture of giving and contribution from all. The Foundation is active in a variety of areas, as per the interests of all involved in the organization. From helping to throw charity galas to supporting educational causes, the Foundation values the myriad ways that individuals and organizations can give back to those around them.

 

One of our most valued causes has always been children’s welfare. When we first came to the United States, we sought to find a foothold with whatever we had to support our family. From there, our “family” came to encompass our community in Jacksonville, Miami, and beyond. A big part of the Foundation is giving children the means to grow in a healthy environment and know that they are loved and supported—and we achieve this by supporting a number of children’s homes in the US and abroad. It’s a central part of our identity and ties into many of our other causes, including medicine, education, and religious development.

 

When it comes to the latter, we support Jewish children’s homes, most notably Our Home in Moscow. Our donations have gone toward a variety of needs for the home itself and its residents. Through our support, we’ve helped provide food and clothing for residents of the orphanage as well as the resources necessary to help them discover their Jewish heritage and learn more about their roots. On Jewish holidays, we sponsor a variety of activities, including gifts, learning opportunities, and entertainment. Purim and Hannukah celebrations are among the most cherished for residents every year.

 

Beyond that, our donations helped support a total renovation of the home. As children traveled for the summer, crews were able to make much-needed repairs and improve facilities. Thanks to these renovation efforts, the children were able to return to a safer and more productive environment for their next year of learning. And for the summer, residents of the home are able to travel to Israel on birthright and visit locations significant to the Jewish faith.

 

Even during the school year, Our Home’s programs accommodate for extracurricular trips and learning opportunities for students, including the chance to participate and perform with a choir. These sorts of events are integral in ensuring that children grow up in an enriching environment and are able to participate in activities that align with their interests.

 

In the United States, the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation contributes primarily to His House Children’s Home, sponsoring their recent Imagine gala. We support and aim to empower HHCH’s mission of providing support for disadvantaged children and families, providing resources, housing, and on-site medical services. HHCH specializes in aiding immigrant families as they adapt to living in the United States—ensuring that they’re kept together and safe in what can be a challenging time.

 

For disadvantaged children, growing up in an enriching environment can be the key to positive development. Places like Our Home and His House Children’s Home provide the resources necessary for children to create lives and happy futures for themselves—and the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation is happy to help out every step of the way.

Gene Therapy Advancements at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute

Lazar Finker—Gene Therapy and Bascom Palmer

Throughout our efforts to promote the advancement of medical technology and research, the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation has partnered with a variety of innovative organizations, including the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. We’ve written about Bascom Palmer in the past, and their track record is impressive—bringing new treatments to the field of ocular medicine and revolutionizing older treatments to the benefit of patients. The organization is routinely noted as a worldwide leader in its field.

 

It’s no surprise that Bascom Palmer has turned its attention to potential applications of gene therapy technology. Many diseases, common and rare alike, are the result of genetic factors often outside of an individual’s control. As a result, many of these diseases are difficult to treat and manage. In the case of rare disease, some treatments may not even exist due to small patient populations and insufficient research efforts. It’s a tragedy that affects thousands of Americans each year, making gene therapy potentially important for managing or eliminating these conditions.

 

Earlier in April, Bascom Palmer trialed new gene therapy techniques aimed at restoring sight to children born with a rare genetic disorder. The condition, known as Lebert Congenital Amaurosis, affects just one in 40,000 children and eventually renders them blind. Such was the case with five-year-old Ro’Nylah Cummings, who loves dancing but suffered from degenerating vision for her entire life until it was no longer possible.

 

However, Bascom Palmer had the answer in the form of an FDA-approved procedure known as Luxturna, conducted by Spark Therapeutics. The procedure involves attacking the defective genes that impede the eye’s ability to produce a certain protein. Mere days after the procedure, patients have experienced the restoration of sight.

 

For Ro’Nylah, her recovery is nothing short of miraculous. Her mother has commented on how quickly she has felt empowered to complete tasks that, up until recently, felt impossible. However, it comes with a substantial price—$425,000 per eye. Though prohibitive, future advances in gene therapy technology could provide a cut to the cost and make treatments like these more accessible to the general public.

 

More research still needs to be completed to assess the long-term viability of gene therapy—children like Ro’Nylah can potentially help pave the way for something bigger in the future.

 

At the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation, we support innovation in medicine and are happy to partner with Bascom Palmer and other organizations looking to rethink the way we approach disease.

Spirituality, Education, Community: Philanthropic Values at Temple Beth Sholom

Lazar Finker—Temple Beth Sholom

In Southern Florida, no organization exists in a vacuum—particularly any related to the area’s thriving Jewish community.

 

Take, for example, Temple Beth Sholom Miami Beach. For the uninitiated, it’s an organization dedicated to Reformist Jewish values in the area, offering facilities and education for residents. However, it’s also an organization with a strong strategic backing befitting a philanthropic organization of its scale. The Temple has spent time both redefining its mission statement and ensuring that its operational goals align with this.

 

The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation has a history of supporting Temple Beth Sholom as part of our mission. For us, it comes with being a part of a wider community—in fact, some of the other organizations we work with, such as Miami Jewish Health Systems and Mt. Sinai Hospital, are also partners with the Temple. We’re jointly committed to many of the same values that permeate both the Jewish and philanthropic communities. The Temple has spent time tying their values with strategic action—something that should be at the core of any nonprofit.

 

Spirituality

 

At Temple Beth Sholom, staff members are dedicated to promoting both spiritual growth and engagement. This is a journey that can last a lifetime, from Hebrew school for youth to life milestones and weekly Shabbat events. In the Jewish faith, great importance is placed upon developing values and learning history and scriptures throughout all stages of life, and Temple Beth Sholom is committed to helping individuals every step of the way. The organization even adopts tactics such as meditation and yoga, to encourage mindfulness and self-discovery.

 

Education

 

As with any Jewish community center, Temple Beth Sholom offers education for all stages of life. Far from sticking with one program, personnel at the Temple reevaluate programs and create content that better serves the congregation and promotes engagement. Education is something that the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation values highly as well—donating to child development and promoting the importance of early education. Adult education programs at Temple Beth Sholom focus on empowering individuals to give back to their communities and learn to teach others.

 

Community

 

An engaged community should be active and involved in any new developments. Temple Beth Sholom understands this and cultivates both a number of strategic partners and welcomes any new members to their congregation. For the diverse individuals that visit the Temple, the staff works to identify and accommodate for areas of need. Temple Beth Sholom aims to remain relevant throughout the lives of anybody that comes through their doors.

 

Social Justice

 

Balancing advocacy, awareness, and action, Temple Beth Sholom’s social justice initiative is almost a nonprofit in of itself. Many of their partners are nonprofits looking to make a positive impact on all of Southern Florida, and the Temple works to involve its congregation in outreach and recurring service projects.

MBS Brings Business Perspective to Health

Lazar Finker—MBS Executive MBA Healthcare

At the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation, we welcome creative, mission-driven approaches to business—it’s why we’ve supported the University of Miami Business School for so long. In fact, we’re so in favor of these efforts that we’re taken it upon ourselves to support MBS’s annual Business Plan Competition.

 

And now, the University’s Executive MBA in Health Sector Management and Policy is being recognized as one of the best in the country. In fact, it’s not only the top health care management program in Florida, but among the 20 best in the country, according to the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

 

How did the University earn this ranking? John A. Quelch, dean of MBS and vice provost for executive education of the University attributed their achievement to “[their] globally recognized faculty, staff and partners and 40 years of success teaching leadership in health care at the graduate level.”

 

The University of Miami Business School’s healthcare MBA is intended as a program for veterans or aspirants of the healthcare sector looking to expand their expertise and take a deep dive into the complexities of industry leadership. The program offers a curriculum tailored to the schedule of an already-busy business professional, accommodating for their development as they grow in their current roles.

 

With a myriad of challenges in healthcare, from compliance to a growing emphasis on patient engagement, students are given the chance to change lives through their work. Given that the healthcare industry is rapidly growing, it’s important for its leaders to be able to evolve it while keeping a focus on stellar patient care. For that matter, healthcare leaders are in a unique position to influence the policy surrounding public health—a process that requires a thorough knowledge of the laws involved.

 

MBS’s program is one of the few in the country to have dual accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International and the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). This gives graduates the recognition and tools they need to better advance in the healthcare community. Their success rate speaks for itself—100% of graduates are employed in the healthcare industry.

 

Part of the strength of the program is the opportunity to network with Southern Florida’s thriving healthcare community. For that matter, the business community offers professionals avenues of learning more about leadership and other lessons that can be applied to healthcare.

 

We at the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation applaud the efforts that the University has made to offer comprehensive programs like their healthcare MBA, equipping students with the knowledge and resources to go on to change industries.

Encouraging Entrepreneurship At University of Miami

Lazar Finker—Encouraging Entrepreneurs

There’s never a bad time to start on the path to entrepreneurship. It’s something the Finker-Frenkel Foundation understands very well—discovering opportunities is a big part of why Lazar Finker and Raissa Frenkel found a home in the United States. In our communities in Jacksonville and Florida at large, the Foundation has sought to, among many other pursuits, encourage education and business.

 

The desire to improve education has led to the Foundation’s gift to the University of Miami Business School. Our donations created the Business Plan Competition Endowed fund as well as sponsoring the creation of a new promenade for the campus.

 

Eugene Frenkel, a 2012 graduate of the University, stated that “[t]he entrepreneurial spirit is extremely important, and we want to foster those values and create that environment for the students at the U.” He fondly looks back at the faculty of the University that pushed him and many other students to succeed.

 

The Foundation’s fund has financed the school’s annual business plan competition, which encourages entrepreneurial plans across a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. Students may submit their plans as individuals or teams, illustrating the value provided by their business, its market space, and logistical plans. Judges consist of entrepreneurs, investors, and financial professionals with a good knowledge of the venture capital sphere.

 

After the first written proposals are judged, the strongest teams advance to the semifinals, which consists of an oral presentation detailing their plans. Contestants are evaluated based on both the viability of their business model and their professionalism when presenting. The judges pick winners based primarily on how likely they would be to invest in the given venture.

 

Prizes consist of funds for contestants to start their ventures—in the case of past winner Therion PC, the winnings enabled them to build a website to promote their products and diversify their offerings. Another past winner, Kelly Pierce, stated that “[w]inning the Business Plan Competition opened doors I’ve been leaning on [ever since].”

 

The competition encourages entrants to consider every aspect of their business and to treat it as an actual venture capital pitch. Contestants should be prepared to not only present the value of their business but to answer potentially difficult questions about the amount of financing that they need and challenges associated with their business models. In fact, viability is worth 50% of the score for the competition.

 

We at the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation eagerly anticipate this year’s entries and look forward to many more years of supporting this competition.

 

Visit the Business Plan Competition website for more details. Entries close on March 19.

Chabad Celebrates New Center With Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation

 

Lazar Finker—Chabad Celebrates New Center

With the Purim festival right around the corner, there’s never been a better time to celebrate with the opening of Chabad of Southside’s new center. The grand opening, which occurred on Sunday, February 24, is the culmination of years of vision and planning. We at the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation are proud to have given our support to Chabad, helping them realize their dream.

 

The new facility boasts new educational areas for students enrolled in at Ganeinu Preschool and Chabad’s religious schools. More areas for prayer and religious practice are also featured, along with kosher cafes and lounges for students and members of the community. The ribbon-cutting included representatives from the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation as well as the Shapiro and Tabacinic families, all of whom helped make the new center possible.

 

Chabad has always been a movement defined not just by religion, but by its diversity. Dating back to the 18th century, the movement sought to offer education, religious services, and community for adherents of Hasidic Judaism.

 

Even today, a multitude of centers across every continent get by with the support of the surrounding community. Chabad centers strive to provide top-tier education, giving children a sense of pride in their Jewish roots and making learning religion relatable for all. For others, Chabad offers resources to help individuals expand their faith or even find kosher food options in the community.

 

Though it is one of many similar stories, Chabad of Southside embraces its roots as a small organization that thrives on and appreciates the support of the citizens of Jacksonville and the surrounding communities. In Chabad’s early days, Rabbi Shmuli and Chana Novack sought to establish the center wherever they could find space—whether in rented meeting rooms or local libraries. Soon, the two attracted dozens of members with services and educational events, culminating in the creation of a permanent center. This was when Lazar Finker first became involved with the organization, commissioning a new Torah scroll and supporting Chabad as they expanded services and facilities alike.

 

Through the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation, Lazar has helped Chabad grow even further over the years as part of our mission. The ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony of the Finker-Frenkel Chabad synagogue center represents more than just a donation—it symbolizes a lasting partnership that will continue years from now.

 

We’re excited to see both the progress made by Chabad and the potential of this new facility to aid in the longterm health of the Jewish community in Jacksonville.

Make-A-Wish and the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation

Lazar Finker—Make-A-Wish And FFFF

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is well-known across the United States for its mission: to provide incredible experiences to young people facing life-threatening conditions. Even so, the scope of the organization goes far beyond what many know about it, including offices in 45 countries outside of the United States. Coupled with a wide variety of external buy-in from celebrities and organizations, and Make-A-Wish starts to look less like a nonprofit and more like a social movement.

 

We at the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation are no strangers to the good that the Make-A-Wish Foundation can do. In fact, our organization was presented with the Philanthropist of the Year award at Make-A-Wish’s America conference in 2017. Presented by Southern Florida board chair Shareef Malnik, the award was a representation of a long-term partnership between the two Foundations.

 

The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation both sponsored the Intercontinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball and provided a $6 million pledge—the largest in Southern Florida’s history. The donation went toward Make-A-Wish’s endowment and capital campaign as well as the organization’s future Wish House.

 

But Southern Florida is just one branch of a vast and highly successful organization. In fact, the Foundation saw its start in Arizona in 1980. At the time, Chris Grecius was being treated to leukemia while holding onto his dream of becoming a police officer. Family friend Tommy Austin looked into ways to give Chris some comfort in the days to come, not anticipating the impact that his story would have.

 

The Arizona Department of Public Safety learned of his wish and arranged for a day in which Chris flew in a police helicopter, received a custom-tailored police uniform, and became Arizona’s first and only honorary DPS officer. He even earned his motorcycle officer’s wings, given to him while in the hospital.

 

Though Chris passed soon after that, his story became the start of something larger. Arizona DPS officers convened with the intent of creating similarly enjoyable experiences for children. From humble donations, the Make-A-Wish Foundation grew into what it is now—with numerous celebrities stepping up to pitch in and make a difference in the lives of children.

 

Far from once-and-done events, wishes can inspire a community to further action, drive awareness and medical research, or give the children the strength needed to carry on through difficult treatments.
Visit wish.org to explore some of the Foundation’s stories, connect with a chapter in your area, or make a donation of your own.

How The Police Officer Assistance Trust Does Philanthropy Right

Lazar Finker—Police Officer Assistance Trust

Every nonprofit needs a cause—and the cause of the Police Officer Assistance Trust (POAT) is simple: Serve those who serve.

 

For the Miami-Dade area, police strive to keep the area happy and protected. However, the line of duty isn’t always safe; and tragedies can affect officers and their families. One such incident—the killing of a police officer in Detroit—set off a chain of events that would lead to the formation of POAT.

 

The death of the Detroit officer led his friend, William M. Packer, to create the 100 Club—in which he encouraged 100 friends and family to donate to a fund for the fallen officer. After an overwhelming success that allowed the officer’s widow to recover from the tragedy, the club grew, starting chapters all across the nation. Eventually, it evolved into the 200 Club, which became the first major donor for POAT.

 

Since its formation, the organization has been a positive presence in officers’ lives. In the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, POAT helped officers rebuild and dedicate more of their time to helping others in need. For injuries or for those that make the ultimate sacrifice, the nonprofit assists with counseling, medical, and funeral expenses.

 

The beauty of POAT is that it addresses a previously-unaddressed need. For officers going through difficult times, the lack of support can often be difficult, even with financial assistance. Having a community to both give extra and provide resources for the families of officers is imperative in mitigating hardship.

 

It’s a nonprofit that knows what it is. By keeping the organization local and centered around a single task, POAT has not lost sight of its mission or the families that it serves. As a result of its dedication, it has provided over $6 million to families in need through private and corporate donations, payroll donations, and fundraisers. Some events, including the recent Cops Ride For Kids, are intended to both generate funding and brings members of the community together, including those whose lives have been touched by POAT.

 

And it helps bridge a difficult gap—according to Miami-Dade Police Director and POAT President Juan Perez, many officers have trouble asking for help. Through the organization, officers always know that they have a support circle to turn to in times of hardship.

 

The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation, in keeping with our mission of community engagement, is an ardent supporter of the Police Officer Assistance Trust. We’re proud to assist our Florida officers and support the work that they do in keeping the area safe. Visit poat.org for more information on how you can donate to this worthy organization.