Want to work in the community? The rewards are many

Neville Goldschneider is leaving Camp Simcha after 19 years as its CEO


Neville Goldschneider, the outgoing CEO of Camp Simcha, with one of the children the charity supports

As I approach the end of a career in Jewish communal service that has spanned 40 years, it’s time to reflect on what I have learnt that might be of use to others, and particularly what my message would be to young people considering whether or not they might be able to make a career in the Jewish community.

It goes without saying that nobody made their fortune working in the community but the rewards go far beyond money. For sure, it’s not for everyone. If you prefer to work in a more formal setting, if you can’t cope with everybody knowing everybody and everyone having an opinion then it’s certainly not for you. If however, you want to work in an environment where people are passionate about the cause and go above and beyond for it, then it could be for you.

There are most definitely fulfilling careers to be had in the community, in fundraising, charity management, marketing and communications, operations, education, social work, therapy and lots more besides. Employment options are often flexible, facilitating a good work life balance and salaries have improved in recent times as charities have recognised that to get the most talented young people, proper salaries must be on the table.

I think though, that for me, the best thing about a life in Jewish communal service is that you get to be part of something you can really care about, because it’s your own community. It can be hard maintaining boundaries when one sees one’s donors every week in shul or when you find yourself having to defend your charity to a disapproving donor at a simcha – but at least you know they care. And when the chips are down and it needs everybody in the charity to go the extra mile, the response in most Jewish organisations, especially the smaller ones can be quite outstanding.

I have seen this time and time again at Camp Simcha; when we have needed all hands-on-deck our staff have responded magnificently. There is a commitment to the cause and the mission that I understand is rarely the case outside of the community, let alone in business and the professions. I am constantly amazed at what my staff achieve with limited resources.

In challenging economic times, it is important that we maximise funds both as individual organisations and communally. I can testify that my CEO colleagues are working very hard to collaborate effectively and avoid overlap. At Camp Simcha we work with literally dozens of organisations, both inside and outside the community, to maximise resource.

It is also worth bearing in mind that there are some areas of need that are simply too great for one organisation to fulfil. Mental health is good example of this – Camp Simcha is one of a handful of excellent charities working in this area and yet there is still so much to do in the face of an overwhelming need.

And that leads me onto my final point and I think one of the most valuable lessons I learnt many years ago when I worked for an organisation that failed because it just ran out of meaning for the community. A charity will succeed or fail based on the extent to which there will be enough people for whom its mission really resonates. At Camp Simcha we continue to work hard to engage as many people as we can in a way that ensures that the impact and the magical meaning of our charity really speaks to them.

I hope that’s a valuable point for anybody reading this who is trying to gain support for their charity and wish them all the good fortune in the world.

Neville Goldschneider is the outgoing CEO of Camp Simcha

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