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A Video Conversation with Marc Terrill, President of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore on Innovation

Click here for Part 1 Baltimore’s home for Jewish giving and community enrichment terrill-marc-750Marc Terrill is president of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. The Associated is a philanthropic organization that helps fund local programs to strengthen the local and global Jewish communities. For nearly a century, The Associated has been the hub for Jewish faith-based care and investment in Baltimore, and works with over 25 agencies and programs, as well as a number of corporate partners, to enrich the community and shape the city’s future. Today, the organization is able to give 89 cents for every dollar earned back to its vast network of causes. Supporters can contribute financially, volunteer, or join The Associated as a lay leader. You mentioned that innovation is a big part of The Associated. What does that mean from an operational perspective? MARC TERRILL: In relation to innovation, the types of things that we’ve been doing: we have a very high level committee of community planning that looks at different areas of concentration that we may not be necessarily touching and need to touch, and they incubate programs and projects. So, for example we have something called Moishe House. It’s basically a group of young adults who have normal jobs, and their rent is subsidized in exchange for them conducting outreach programs in their home. So this is something that we have partnered with the National Foundation and has been an incredible success. As a matter of fact, there was a former police chief who called me one day on my cell and said, “What’s a Moishe House?” I asked “Why?” He says, “Because there’s a traffic jam in Federal Hill for an event for Hanukkah and we need them to move their cars.” So, we laugh about it still to this day when I see him. What about your programs for seniors? Strategies that might be very apparent for taking care of the elderly population: we have a new emphasis on keeping seniors in their homes, not in isolation, and supported. It’s a model that was adopted from Israel that we brought here, where people pay a nominal fee to be members, and essentially they get visits, they get events, they get a number of different things where they get together, because isolation for elderly is a huge problem, so we’re trying to combat that. So, innovation could be as simple as using our gray matter to come up with ways that are pretty simple, but pretty important, like getting seniors together; or they could be a little bit more innovative and cutting-edge, and how we develop financial resources through means that weren’t necessarily part of our tried-and-true aspects. Like, we’re exploring things like online auctions and retail using the Internet and social media. I think people have money and time to give—we just have to give them a reason to give, and that’s what we’re trying to do at The Associated all the time. How has the Baltimore Jewish community evolved over the years? What have the challenges been for The Associated? I think the more pressing issue that we’re dealing with is individualism and particularism and people not really buying into the notion of community. I think tides are turning and they’re focused on community more, unfortunately, when tragedy happens. But I think people understand over the last few years or several years that we’re stronger together than divided. So, in terms of challenges, I worry about people being very me-centric—not necessarily seeing beyond their own front yard—and about apathy. But, on the positive side, I see that people are seeking meaning, and I think the smart nonprofits and other organizations that can deliver on that opportunity and that promise are the ones that are going to really thrive in the next decade.  

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