Hi! I'm Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann. I launched Mishkan Chicago to create regular opportunities for young adults to experience sacred Jewish rituals in unintimidating, intellectually, and spiritually accessible environments. Early experience demonstrated our potential to truly transform the Jewish community of Chicago, especially for disconnected young adults. However, the deeper I got into the process of starting my organization, the more I realized that I lacked the concrete business skills to successfully execute this idea in a way that would create a sustainable and successful venture.
"Where do you see Mishkan Chicago in three years? Can you articulate your vision of the future? What is your value proposition? What is your revenue model going to be? Who are your key stakeholders? Have you tested and iterated your program ideas based on the needs of your customers? Have you thought about who you need on your advisory board that would propel Mishkan Chicago forward?"
These questions, when first introduced to me by Barbara, UpStart's Senior Consultant, made my Rabbinic eyes glaze over. The process of business planning seemed daunting and complex. "I don't have time to think about the business and revenue models or quantifying metrics," I thought. "I just want to reach people who were not previously connected to their Judaism so they can find meaningful and soul-lifting experiences."
As I sat with Barbara in Skype meeting, after in-person meeting, after phone meeting, and traded hundreds of emails, I began to realize these questions were not something that I could put off any longer. After working with UpStart, the process of building a sustainable business has become demystified. I went into this as a Rabbi, and now I truly understand what it means to be an Executive Director. I've learned how to build and run a business with an Advisory Board, how to ask my board the right questions, and how to design program offerings around my customer base to ensure that I am meeting their needs and desires. Mishkan Chicago is now primed for success.
This transformation in my understanding happened because of UpStart's tremendous support of me, and now I am asking you to join me in supporting UpStart.
I am a member of the National UpStarter program, an offering of UpStart's national consulting practice. My participation is supported by a local foundation that is providing the funds so that I can receive UpStart's guidance and expertise as I embark upon creating this experimental new spiritual community- Mishkan Chicago. But most social entrepreneurs do not have the good fortune of this financial backing. There are scores of entrepreneurs in our Jewish community brimming with great ideas for how to make Judaism more accessible and relevant for this and coming generations. UpStart can help them translate their ideas into reality. UpStart provided me with support, mentorship and guidance; I am incredibly grateful. This support is game-changing. You can help UpStart reach Jewish social entrepreneurs like me.
Individuals and existing organizations alike need this push to make our work better-to make it more relevant, exciting and most importantly, sustainable. UpStart provides this push in the best possible way. UpStart is a tremendous resource that our Jewish community cannot be without.
As you're thinking about your year-end philanthropy, I urge you to include UpStart among the organizations you support. Please click here to make your gift today. Thank you for fueling the future of our Jewish community.
Wishing you a Happy Hanukkah and a Happy New Year,
Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann