Humans of Fundraising: Rabbi David Hoffman

By December 9, 2020May 6th, 2021Migration, Graham-Pelton News & Events

Career portraits and interviews collected from the frontlines of fundraising.

"Many little acts really do accumulate. Just keep focused on putting one step in front of the other." -- Rabbi David Hoffman (left)

Rabbi David Hoffman


The Honey Foundation

I’m a bike rider. Part of cycling is going up very steep and long hills. For me, at the beginning of a hill, looking up at the enormous challenge in front of me is paralyzing. It literally takes the wind out of me. So, my practice is to never look up and try to focus on the back tire of the biker in front of me. I lock my eyes and simply try to keep that tire immediately in front of me. After some time focused on that tire, I find myself at the top of the hill.

Many little acts really do accumulate. Just keep focused on putting one step in front of the other. It might sound trite but it’s effective.

Focusing on those small steps has helped me accomplish rigorous, long-term goals – such as receiving my Ph.D. (after 10 years in the making!). The philosophy that helped get me there has helped me through other life challenges and moments of difficulty and guides my work as president of The Honey Foundation for Israel, an organization that amplifies and advances a new field of spiritual leadership in Israel by harnessing the energy of entrepreneurship with the transformative power of Judaism.

The pandemic has helped me hone that philosophy further by reminding me to take pleasure in small accomplishments. It’s given me more time to consider what it is I really want to do in the world. It’s allowed more time for family… but having family around all the time has also been really trying!

Perhaps that is my true nature as an introvert revealing itself. Much of my work is focused on being very public. I spend a lot of time with people – and I love this. But, as an introvert, I also really enjoy being alone.

There are four areas that guide my personal philosophy and the way I work. First, focus on building relationships. Second, push yourself to see the complexity of every situation. Third, be generous. And fourth, bring passion.

These areas inform my life as a rabbi, too. Early on, I had been thinking of a career in academics. I love ideas and learning. But after leading a teen tour in my early twenties, I had this clear self-awareness that what I loved most was building community around learning and big ideas. I enjoy sharing moments with people. So I became a rabbi (and still managed to get that Ph.D.!).

There are opportunities embedded in this crisis; use them. This is a moment to hone the vision of your organization. Focus on small steps that help with long-term goals. Remember the long game. It may not feel like it now but this crisis will end. Like the top of that hill, the future comes surprisingly fast.

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