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The Jewish Museum

Case Study

In 2021, Parkes Philanthropy worked with The Jewish Museum to develop a strategic pipeline of opportunities to unlock new funding opportunities for an upcoming exhibit. With a Fundraising Director on maternity leave, they needed additional development support to manage their current portfolio while strategically identifying new opportunities for solicitation for an upcoming exhibit. The Jewish Museum brought on Parkes Philanthropy to bring a diverse and methodical perspective to their prospecting.

The team worked with The Jewish Museum leadership to identify and conduct in-depth biographic and asset-based research on existing donors to develop target donor profiles and trends within giving to identify new and additional giving opportunities, with an emphasis on expanding the Museum’s Major Gifts portfolio. This included leveraging the current donor pool to research influential connections for new giving opportunities for The Jewish Museum, along with supporting the development of new targeted local and national prospect lists and generating profiles aligned with the priority exhibit. This engagement also included ongoing monitoring of the prospect pool and support as needed to the Jewish Museum team to facilitate custom introductions.


Founded in 1904, the Jewish Museum is a hub for groundbreaking art and an essential cultural destination for people of all backgrounds. With a collection of 30,000 works of art and Judaica and a dynamic range of acclaimed exhibitions and outreach programs each year, the Museum uses art to explore Jewish experiences and traditions, championing both emerging and established artists. Their exhibitions and public programs provide platforms for cross-cultural dialogue, fostering empathy, mutual understanding, and respect. The museum champions the powerful roles art and artists can play in our communities, both inside and outside the Museum’s walls.


Parkes Philanthropy supported The Jewish Museum to identify new major donors ($25k+) for an upcoming exhibit, The Sassoons. The Sassoon family, known as “Rothschilds of the East” due to the immense wealth they accumulated in finance and trade, is a family of Baghdadi Jewish descent. The Sassoons had a major impact on visual culture and civic life through their major patronage of architecture in the various cities in which they settled. The exhibition plans to feature photographs and ephemera related to the various synagogues, schools, hospitals, office buildings, hotels, and other public buildings that members of the family erected in Mumbai, Pune, and Shanghai.

With a current Fundraising Director on maternity leave, and a time-sensitive need to do a deep dive into prospecting for new constituents to support this exhibit, with a primary focus on individuals, the Jewish Museum brought on Parkes Philanthropy to augment into their existing work and accelerate their fundraising efforts.


The project team conducted an analysis of the organization’s existing prospects, past fundraising efforts, and team relationships and networks to design the strategy for prospect research. Based on their conversations with the organization’s leadership, they also designed a prospect viability matrix to effectively evaluate the viability of potential future prospects.

To establish the prospect viability matrix, Parkes Philanthropy worked with the Jewish Museum to first understand their needs and strategize prospecting opportunities. They identified key factors of viability and established values (1-5) for each, to evaluate the feasibility and alignment of new major donors and foundation support for the upcoming exhibit on The Sassoons. A final score was calculated to rank all opportunities for overall evaluation and prioritization.

From this analysis, the team identified the following key priorities for prospect research and viability:

Prospects that were following trends within the fundraising landscape that aligned with the context of the exhibit.

Synergies to the Jewish culture/heritage with a history of supporting the arts and exhibitions

A history of supporting NYC arts institutions at large with a cultural lens

A desire to promote the culture and history of specific geographical locations that the exhibit reflected (India, China, England).

Funders that aligned with the expansion of programmatic work (capacity building) rather than exclusively current programming to increase their overall impact

The project team organized all findings into an Evaluation Grid to provide a high-level comparative overview of the expansion opportunities and highlight areas for the Jewish Museum to pursue. Specific details for each opportunity were also documented for additional reference.

Solutions and Outcomes

Based on the team’s initial analysis of the needs of the organization, they started research of aligned prospects by conducting a cross-analysis of similar organizations (based on size and demographic of portfolio).

The team then supported The Jewish Museum to develop donor profiles, focused on the following factors of viability and prioritization:

  1. Geographical Focus
  2. Mission Alignment, with a focus on the key areas identified around the priority initiative for funding: Arts and Culture, Jewish heritage, geographical affinity of the exhibit (India, China, Europe)
  3. Grant Cycle (ex: open, rolling, invite only)
  4. Gift Size
  5. Accessibility/Warm Introduction (doing network mapping of board/staff to see if/where prospects can be found)
  6. Final result

The team then leveraged their knowledge of funders that met the priority criteria to build the prospect pipeline. They leveraged their own knowledge and networks along with additional tools, such as DonorSearch, to obtain past giving history and amounts to hone in on prospects’ interests and further define alignment and strategic ask amounts.

In total, the team:

  • Assessed current portfolio to develop target donor profiles
  • Assessed 103 potential prospects across three previously existing avenues
  • Identified 28 new avenues of prospects and assessed 114 new prospects
  • Assessed 47 prospects across staff’s network
  • Advanced 45 prioritized prospects to the funding plan for viability
  • Made introductions to several new funders, such as The Investors Foundations and HNWI’s
  • Identified and assessed 32 new potential individual donors, converting 4 within the duration of the

Finally, they created a final pipeline that included the following information for each viable prospect:

  • Prospect Name
  • Prospect Type
  • Focus Area
  • Grant Cycle and/or Application Info
  • Deadlines/Due Dates
  • Website
  • Ask Amount Low
  • Ask Amount High
  • Contact Person(s) and respective contact information
  • Priority Level
  • Synergies/alignment
  • High level solicitation strategy
The Jewish Museum – Case Study


“I very much appreciated Parkes Philanthropy’s dedication to our partnership, their responsiveness, and the way that they internalized our mission and work so intuitively. 

They helped open doors to other organizations, conducted extensive research to build out funding plans, and set us up well to have a strong fiscal year across multiple portfolios.”

Allison Curran, Director, Institutional and Major Gifts at The Jewish Museum

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