JDC works to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and help Israel overcome the social challenges of its most vulnerable citizens, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Our reach extends beyond the global Jewish community by providing high-impact disaster relief and long-term development assistance worldwide.

We believe in transparency, accountability, and learning. We focus on picking the right responses to the most urgent needs and prioritizing ones that are most effective. Our goal is to ensure the most effective utilization of precious organizational resources in order to maximize the benefit to those who invest in us and those we serve.

To do so, we focus on “best in class” program design, drawing on our global expertise and data-informed decision-making.  Our programs are evaluated in ways that are at once unified and customized for regional-specific needs that reflect the scope and breadth of JDC’s reach around the world.  The people we serve and all of our partners depend on us to provide meaningful and sustainable impact.

Below are links to each region where you can read an overview of major directions in each region, as well as highlights of findings of select studies of major programs.

General M&E Update

To build its Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) capacity, JDC Europe now has a regional director specifically charged with overseeing research and evaluation; it also added a part-time M&E coordinator. This will ensure an increased focus on M&E, as well as an important integration between the research work of JDC Europe‘s International Center for Community Development (ICCD) and the evaluations conducted of regional programming. Both sources of information and data will serve as core inputs in regional planning efforts.

Strategically, JDC Europe continues to prioritize  M&E efforts in areas where learning about impact can best influence program development and shape future directions for the region. This includes:

  • An evaluation by MJB of the first year of the pilot Mozaik Jewish Community Hub in Budapest, a priority strategy to work within the grassroots sector of the Jewish community.
  • The third year of a three-year internal evaluation of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation/JDC International Camp at Szarvas, which has
    provided the robust data set needed to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the outcomes and impact of this flagship program and help shape future improvements.
  • Resilience is a new program direction led by JDC Europe. As this program begins to reach full pilot operation, discussions are under way regarding the data to be measured and the best way to develop an evaluation strategy.
  •  Exploring an evaluation of the JCC in Warsaw that would measure its impact on Jewish life in that city in the years since its launch, and identify the activities most relevant to its members as well as the directions it should pursue.

In addition, two research studies are under way that will offer insight into program impact and/or future development:

  •  A study exploring the collective impact on a group of Jewish teenagers of numerous JDC—and other organizations’—program initiatives in Poland, Hungary, and the Baltic states. This will include regular interviews with the teenagers and their families over a two-year period to assess the impact of these programs on the Jewish nature of the family.
  • Research into the projected needs of Jewish elderly in this region 25 years from now and the ability of local communities to meet those needs as a tool in considering JDC’s future role in this program space.
Program Findings

The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation/JDC International Summer Camp at Szarvas, Hungary

Since its founding in 1990, Szarvas has provided a transformative informal Jewish educational experience for Jewish youth from Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, with participants also coming from India, Western Europe, Israel, and the U.S. More than 1,000 campers have been taking part in the three to four 12-day sessions held each summer in recent years. An internal evaluation process conducted over the past three summers focused on campers aged 13 to 16, who were asked to complete a multilingual questionnaire toward the end of each session.

In addition to gathering important information on the campers’ backgrounds and prior Jewish connections, the questionnaires captured the participants’ reaction to their overall camp experience, as well as the impact it had on their feelings about Judaism and the breadth of their Jewish knowledge.

General M&E Update

In the former Soviet Union (FSU), JDC is building its M&E capacity through policy development and implementation, increasing integration of M&E for management purposes, and increased staffing. In addition, the region is expanding its use of research to understand context and impact.

In the FSU department, the regional policy aims to articulate what to measure, when and why. The region is designing its M&E approach to address the multiple layers of strategy, program, and intervention or service, including regionwide programs (developing aligned M&E (i.e., for camps, leadership); strategic initiatives that may not be cross-regional, and locally defined M&E needs and use. There is an ongoing process in place engaging senior management around logic model use and integration, as well as a focus on shifting to deeper integration of M&E practices into the organizational culture at the regional level for program management and planning purposes.

Given the wide geographic spread of the region, focal points/individuals at the field level have been identified as point persons for implementing the policy.

General M&E Update

Through the JDC GRID, JDC aims to respond to both emergency relief and longer-term recovery needs in countries impacted by a major disaster. With the goal of providing the best possible services, JDC has a monitoring system in place for tracking progress toward program and partnership outcomes, summarizing outputs, and helping local partners perform better. This is based on the logic model it develops for each post-disaster recovery program.

The monitoring system includes partnership tracking documents, standardized monitoring reports, and proposal templates for post-disaster contexts.

Given the wide geographic spread of the region, focal points/individuals at the field level have been identified as point persons for implementing the policy.

General M&E Update

In 2016, JDC Entwine received a $3 million investment from the Jim Joseph Foundation that included revolutionizing how Entwine measures impact. Funds were allocated to cover an external program evaluation, build skilled staff capacity, and upgrade Entwine’s ongoing research and evaluation systems.

JDC Entwine is committed to expanding evaluation efforts and aligning results with short- and long-term strategic planning efforts. Recently it completed the following major developments:

1. A significant external evaluation of program impact for Insider Trips, Multi-week Fellowships, and Learning Networks

The external evaluation, conducted by Rosov Consulting, represented an upgrade in evaluation approaches, and it provided a wide-lens examination of impact across programs and a new framework and instrumentation for continued evaluation work moving forward.

Through this process, JDC Entwine developed an overall Theory of Change and Logic Models for three of its key program areas, and it tested program impact across those program areas using a mixed method (qualitative and quantitative) evaluation approach.

Key findings from the external evaluation:

  • Entwine’s Insider Trips (7 day experiences) and Fellowships (1 month to 1 year) lead to a host of value-based outcomes across measures of identity, knowledge, and behavior related to global Jewish issues.
  • Multi-week Fellowships produced the highest outcomes, followed by short-term Insider Trips and then by yearlong Jewish Service Corps Fellowships.
  • Impact is higher when participants combine an overseas experience with engagement in Entwine’s local Learning Network programming, and higher than participating in either program alone.
  • Participants are coming to Entwine with a range of prior engagement in Jewish life. While we see significant impact among participants from all background levels, impact is much higher among those with low and medium Jewish backgrounds, representing 41% and 25% of our participants, respectively.
  • Over one-third of participants report they had no previous involvement in local Jewish life, yet they are coming to Entwine for very intense Jewish experiences, and two-thirds of them walk away inspired to participate in their local Jewish communities.
  • Of those who come to us without any previous leadership involvement, 80% are inspired by their Entwine participation to pursue leadership roles.
  • Our programs are attracting an important cross-section of Jewish professionals: largely those in business, marketing, Jewish communal work, and public service, followed by medicine, law, tech, and higher education. Of those working in the Jewish communal sector, approximately one in five report that Entwine influenced or reinforced their choice to work in the Jewish community.

2. Internal capacity for measurement and evaluation

A newly hired Director of Planning and Evaluation has been heading ongoing evaluation efforts and working together with senior leadership on impact-based strategic planning. The director is working toward the implementation of new program tracking and evaluation software, and is charged with designing, implementing, and reporting on new internal evaluation efforts.

3. A long-term evaluation plan

Completed by JDC together with external consultants, this plan outlined research methods and approaches, timing, areas of inquiry, and the financial, technological, and human resources needed to carry out a robust evaluation program.

Additional M&E-related efforts include:

  • An evaluation of our Giving Circle pilot program, using qualitative in-depth interviewing methodology to probe participants’ motives for participation, as well as the program’s ability to build connections to JDC, Entwine, and the global Jewish community. The pilot was deemed an overall success, with very clear actionable suggestions for improvement related mostly to logistics and scheduling. Participants saw the Giving Circle as a platform for continued engagement and involvement (not just a way to give money), one that allowed them to express an already deep level of commitment to global Jewish causes, while deepening their knowledge of JDC’s global programs.
  • An examination of drop-off rates in applications to our Multi-Week and Insider Trip programs via a survey of potential participants who subsequently withdrew their program applications. Significant reasons for withdrawal included the cost of participation and competing opportunities that ranged from solo travel, educational pursuits, paid employment, and other organized volunteer activities.
  • Design and planning for evaluation efforts for 2017, including a full-scale evaluation of the yearlong JDC Jewish Service Corps program and a continued review of the Multi-week Fellowship program, to better understand program successes and constraints in both cases.
  • Efforts toward implementing better tracking and evaluation software and tools also continue in 2018.
General M&E Update

Over the past year, and with generous support from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, JDC-Israel launched a major effort to upgrade its Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) capacity, both within each of  its five divisions and across a number of strategic areas. This section describes the work done across JDC-Israel as well as within each of its
five divisions:

  • Ashalim: Children and Families at Risk
  • ELKA: JDC Institute for Leadership and Governance
  • ESHEL: Elderly
  • Israel Unlimited: People with Disabilities
  • TEVET: Workforce Integration

The JDC-Israel Measurement & Evaluation Task Force

JDC-Israel established an M&E Task Force at the beginning of 2016, building on the M&E point persons designated by each division three years ago as part of JDC’s global efforts to advance M&E throughout the organization. The Task Force includes the divisional point persons, as well as a representative from the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute (MJB), which plays a critical role in the development of tools and guidelines. It meets for several hours each month.

The developments described below are the result of the Task Force’s focused efforts.

Standardized DNA Criteria for All JDC-Israel Programs

JDC-Israel created the DNA (Design, Nurture, and Accelerate) model a few years ago to describe its program development strategy.

The M&E Task Force was tasked with taking the model to the next level so it could be used as a tool to conceptualize, plan, manage, and monitor the different stages of program development across JDC-Israel. But first, the different stages needed to be defined more precisely and standardized  criteria developed to gauge advancement from one stage to the next.

General M&E Update

JDC conducted a vulnerability study aimed at measuring the living conditions of impoverished Jewish families in the provinces of Argentina. The study was based on a vulnerability model designed by the Catholic University of Argentina. It was adapted to Jewish families and conducted among beneficiaries of the Mezonot program, JDC’s largest welfare program in Argentina. It was also carried out in Uruguay among beneficiaries of the Tzedaka Foundation in that country. The results are helping JDC and other welfare organizations better understand the needs of families under their care, as well as the obstacles they face for full economic and social integration.

Another recent investigation was conducted under the direction of sociologist Gabriel Kessler, a renowned poverty specialist. Titled “Diagnosis
and Future Scenarios of Poverty and Vulnerability in the Argentine Jewish Population,” Dr. Kessler’s research is based on data collected throughout the country. It analyzes the current state of poverty and needs within Jewish communities in order to provide information for future welfare policies. This type of investigation had not taken place in Argentina for many years.

General M&E Update

MJB’s overall focus is on programs that promote a comprehensive, coordinated, and integrated approach that involves cooperation among multiple governmental and non-governmental organizations, one that can bring about more significant, substantive change and create an ongoing positive momentum. Some of the major themes are:

Promoting opportunities for minorities

MJB is engaged in the evaluation of several key initiatives for the Arab population such as the Comprehensive National Program to Promote
Early Childhood Education for the Arab Population, the National Council for Higher Education’s  Multi-year Comprehensive Program to Promote Access to Higher Education among Arab Israelis,  and the national network of Riyan Arab Employment Centers.

Ethiopian-Israelis are a second major focus. In addition to evaluating the Ethiopian National Project to Promote Educational Opportunities for Ethiopian-Israeli Youth, MJB is assessing the huge gender gap in educational achievement levels, key aspects of the integration of Ethiopian-Israelis into the Israel Defense Forces, and special programs to enhance their opportunities for advancement in
the workplace.

Efforts to improve and reform major social service systems that affect all groups, including:

  • The Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services’ reform of services for neglected and abused children.
  • The reform of the mental health care service system.
  • The reform of the vocational training system, with an emphasis on disadvantaged groups.
  • The effort to create an effective model for integrated care for the elderly.

Strengthening the infrastructure of the public sector to enable it to function more effectively, with a focus on:

  • The Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services’ initiative to develop its system for quality assurance and the regulation of social services.
  • Efforts to enhance collaboration between government and civil society implemented through the JDC Institute for Leadership and Governance.
  • The effort to create a common set of agreed outcome measures across government ministries and within JDC’s work with government.

JDC global M&E development

The Institute is a partner in the development of policies and strategies to promote monitoring and evaluation throughout JDC. In addition to its extensive work with JDC Israel, MJB supports the work of JDC in other parts of the world through efforts to promote more outcome-based planning and evaluations of selected programs.