About our Participants

Participants in Development at the Core come from diverse agencies across the Jewish community.

Past Participants


  • Metropolitan Council, New York, NY
  • JASA (Jewish Association Serving the Aging), New York, NY
  • Selfhelp Community Services, Inc., New York, NY
  • Samuel Field Y, Little Neck, NY


  • Bronx House, Bronx, NY
  • Hillel School of Tampa, Tampa, FL
  • Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, NY
  • JCP Downtown, New York, NY
  • Jewish Community Center of Staten Island, Staten Island, NY
  • Jewish Educational Center, Elizabeth, NJ
  • Kings Bay YM-YWHA, Brooklyn, NY
  • Politz Day School, Cherry Hill, NJ
  • Shorefront YM-YWHA Brooklyn, NY
  • Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center, Commack, New York
  • The Jewish Education Project, New York, NY
  • The Moriah School, Englewood, NJ


  • Camp Avoda, Canton, MA
  • Ezra Academy, Woodbridge, CT
  • Frankel Jewish Academy, West Bloomfield, MI
  • Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, Newton, MA
  • JCDS: Boston’s Jewish Community Day School, Watertown, MA
  • Jewish Federation of the North Shore, Salem, MA
  • Jewish Family Service of the North Shore, Salem, MA
  • Jewish Federation of Reading, Reading, PA
  • Project Extreme, Lawrence, NY
  • University of Vermont Hillel, Burlington, VT
  • URJ Kutz Camp, Warwick, NY

Development at the Core

Development at the Core helps nonprofit organizations build their fundraising capacity. Professional leaders learn how to focus the organization on fundraising and create a culture of giving.

Over the course of the program, participants diagnose their current fundraising operations, create a development plan, and prepare the organization for its implementation. Our metric of success is that participating organizations exceed their fundraising goals. Participating agencies have included Jewish community centers, federations, family service agencies, Hillel foundations, human service agencies, day schools, overnight camps and other educational programs. (See sidebar.)

Access worksheets that provide participants the framework for their homework and guide their efforts from assessment through planning

Goals | Principles | Program | Faculty


Development at the Core helps organizations increase both the efficiency and effectiveness of their fundraising. The program helps organizations develop:

  • a board that embraces its role in fundraising and has the necessary structures to participate in the fundraising effort.
  • fundraising goals that are widely-understood, rational, clear and defensible and a plan for achieving them.
  • an information system that houses donor and prospect information in a way that is easily retrievable.
  • plans for building the development function with adequate staff, space, equipment, technology, and budget.
  • efficient operations (including annual fundraising calendar, handling of gifts, record keeping, evaluation of strategies, etc.).


Development at the Core is based on the following principles:

  • Development professionals have much to offer each other. The heart of the seminar is peer learning and support.
  • Those that raise funds for Jewish causes can be sustained and motivated by Jewish sources. Text study enriches our work together.
  • The annual campaign must be done well. It is the foundation for the entire fundraising operation.
  • Board members, key volunteers, and staff must lead in giving.
  • Success depends on two things: having a reasonable yet inspiring fundraising plan and patiently cultivating relationships.
  • Development is everyone’s job. That’s why we named the program Development at the Core.


The nine-month program begins with a diagnostic phase completed as a self-study by participants and/or as a consultation by Brandeis faculty. The second phase is a series of day-long seminars focused on selected topics critical to the participating agencies. In past years, these have included:

  • Fundraising goals and the strategies and calendar for achieving them
  • Multi-year goals and objectives for the development department
  • Integration of fundraising and strategic plans
  • Case statement and program budget
  • Board profile and board building cycle
  • Prospect research
  • Major gifts management
  • Moves management and solicitation
  • Inter-departmental relations (with regard to the development function)

Final products of the program are case materials and/or fundraising plans ready to be presented  to staff and to the board. In the last seminar, participants discuss how to get the most value from these presentations, how to build on the momentum they have started, and how to move from planning to action. The essential conversation focuses on what it means to have development at the core of the organization. What does it look like in practice? Where are the obstacles and opportunities? How are you going to overcome the former and seize the latter?


Development at the Core seminars are taught by Brandeis University faculty and expert practitioners selected to meet the specific needs of the class.

Amy SalesAmy L. Sales, director of the Institute for Jewish Philanthropy and Leadership; associate professor in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program; associate director and senior research scientist at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies

David A. MerskyDavid A. Mersky, founder and managing director of Mersky, Jaffe & Associates, Inc.; lecturer in Jewish philanthropy and fundraising in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program