Thursday, December 17, 2009

2 groups become allies: Storah Telling partners with Educational Alliance
by Judith Messina
Dec. 13, 2009

While most big nonprofits are likely to outlast the grim economy, smaller organizations now have to create new operational models to weather the increasingly tough fundraising environment.
When the recession hit, Storah Telling—a Jewish organization that creates educational programs around Torah stories—was already struggling to raise money as it shifted its mission from performance to education. The implosion of Bernard Madoff's investment empire landed another blow to the tiny nonprofit, killing $500,000 in support from foundations and individuals caught in Madoff's Ponzi scheme. Storah Telling cut its budget by 50% and laid off four people, nearly half its staff, including the director of development.

Fortunately, the organization had a well-heeled ally in the Educational Alliance, with which it had collaborated in the past. The two organizations began to discuss their potential synergies and ended up with a formal partnership while still remaining independent. Today, Storah Telling has its headquarters at the Educational Alliance's 14th Street Y, saving it $65,000 annually in rent. It gets office, training and rehearsal space, while the Y gets staff training and programs for its early childhood education center.

“We're calling it a strategic alliance,” says Storah Telling founder and Executive Director Amichai Lau-Lavie. “It should be seen as a model [for others].”

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