At the American Jewish World Service, our motto is “Pursuing Global Justice through Grassroots Change” and the social justice work we do embodies that motto. The difference between the AJWS and other funders is that the AJWS recognizes the crucial role that local people play in solving the issues. Therefore, the AJWS does not go in to a country and try to fix the problems for the people, they go in and find an organization that is already trying to make that change and they support that organization. The AJWS gives the organization the means through which to achieve their goals and overcome the issues.
Change or progress can look like any number of things at the AJWS. It could mean convincing a donor that ours is a worthy cause, spreading the word about the work the AJWS does or achieving real change, no matter how small, in any of the 19 countries that the AJWS works in.
There are many steps that lead to these kinds of change and the different departments work together to achieve them. The donors department gathers intel on potential donors and reaches out to them. We also have people who are in contact with leaders and members of the Jewish community and they play a large role in both out donations and our work. The communications team keeps our funders and our supporters updated on all our work and sends out a “Daily Digest” to keep everyone updated on issues around the world. Then we have the programs division. They analyze different situations. They look to see if the country is safe for us to go into, whether there are any grassroots organizations there for us to support, and whether the people there actually want out help. After all of that is assessed, money is granted and people can go in and start helping the grassroots organizations and the people in that country achieve their goals. All of these processes happen simultaneously and feed off of one another to ensure that the process works and that we do good work.