We share the process of creating Slingshot to ensure all readers, whether you read the guide at your kitchen table or in a foundation board room, that the organizations in this guide have been vetted by professionals. Over the course of nearly a full year, the Slingshot staff solicits nominations, reviews evaluation forms, and conducts due diligence. The process centers on a community of professionals across the country who generously volunteers their time and expertise to review hundreds of applications. While this community was critical in the creation of Slingshot ’16, Slingshot takes full responsibility for its content.
Step 1 – Solicit Nominations
The process of developing the book started in March of 2015, when we released the 2016 application form on here on our website. For the next three months, Slingshot staff encourages anyone and everyone to apply or nominate the organizations or project that inspire them. In particular, we asked people to think about projects and organizations that best reflected our four criteria: innovation, impact, strong leadership and organizational effectiveness. Slingshot receives applications from alternative spiritual communities, Jewish farms, established Jewish organizations doing innovative work, social justice projects, and wherever Jewish life is being reinvigorated.
Step 2 – Evaluation
When the nominations process closed in late May, we gathered a national committee of 97 volunteer evaluators to review the nominations forms. Each nominee was reviewed by a minimum of four evaluators. Whenever possible, we assigned each nominee to an evaluator who would have insight into the particular organization due to geographic proximity or specific programmatic experience. We also assigned each nominee to an evaluator who had no prior knowledge of the organization. The mix of the insider’s point of view with a first-timer’s opinion gave us a well-balanced final picture.
The evaluators, grant making professionals, Federation executives and Jewish community consultants, who spend at least part of their time funding and supporting innovative Jewish nonprofits, were asked to evaluate each nominee against four criteria:
Innovation: In what ways is the organization / project creative, inventive, pioneering or groundbreaking in responding to the changing needs of the Jewish community and the world around it? Is it innovative by addressing an unmet need, the approach it takes to serve its constituents, etc?
Impact: Who is the organization / project’s target audience? How is it affecting the attitudes and behaviors of its constituents and the Jewish community?
Strong Leadership: Is this organization a model for the field? Can its programmatic content, strategy or approach be scaled or replicated elsewhere? Is this organization collaborating and partnering strategically with others? How is this organization sharing it’s learning with others?
Organizational Effectiveness: Is the organization sound? Is it strategic in the way it does business? Does the organization/project have the appropriate infrastructure to effectively serve its mission?
Step 3 – Due Diligence
In August of 2015, we compiled the data from evaluators, and wrote a 1-page form for each organization which summarizes the opinions of the evaluators assigned to that organization. Evaluators were then invited to read the summary to ensure that their views were reflected. Summary forms are available only to Slingshot evaluators and members of the Slingshot Fund. Based on the summary forms, we built a list of semi-finalists, on which we then conducted due diligence. After carefully reviewing budgets, reading organizational materials, calling references, watching YouTube videos, and striving to represent the breadth of diversity in the Jewish innovation space, we arrived at the final 50.
Step 4 – Profiles
For each finalist, we have sought to summarize the mission, impact, and innovations that are new this year. We have also put a significant amount of effort into capturing the unique character of each organization by including unattributed comments from evaluators. This guide, which is organized alphabetically, also includes information about each organization such as Board Chair, budget size and contact information. If you prefer, the Index sorts the finalists by program area, population served and budget size.
Our hope is that you find the final list of organizations to be a valuable resource. If you are interested in learning more about an individual organization, please feel free to reach out to its professionals directly. And if you are interested in investing in the group as a whole, please email email@example.com to learn more about the Slingshot Fund.
Also, please feel free to ask any questions you may have about the methodology used to create Slingshot by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.