Bnai Zion Foundation is a nearly century-old philanthropic organization seeking to revitalize its reputation, membership and goals.  The Bnai Zion Business and Technology Forum was created as a strategy to associate the organization with timely and current issues as well as introduce the organization’s mission to a new generation of business professionals.  The first Forum event, held on Wednesday, September 20, 2000, addressed the issue, “Israel and the Internet:  New Economy, New Opportunities.”  It was so successful that a series has been created to meet the interests of a new, enthusiastic community.  
The objective of the program was to revitalize the brand image of this venerable, but aging organization.  Bnai Zion competes for attention/funding/volunteers with much larger and more well-known organizations such as the United Jewish Communities (UJC), Jewish National Fund and Hadassah.  The challenge we were faced with was to develop an outreach program that would begin to build a new reputation for Bnai Zion, portraying it as an exciting, dynamic organization associated with topical issues. 
Since we were operating on a highly restricted budget, certain decisions were made:
  • We would begin with a single event on a trial basis
  • The seminar topic needed a connection with Israel to appeal to the existing membership base
  • The event needed a current business angle to attract a new group of potential donors
Once these parameters were set, the initial topic was selected to reflect Israel’s new status as a hi-tech center.   The next challenge was to find a compelling panel and moderator. 
For the moderator, our goal was to secure someone from the media.  We got a commitment from the editor-in-chief of AlleyCat News, a well-respected technology publication.  Others on the panel included:  Stanley Blau, Chairman, Board of Directors, America-Israel Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc.; Amir Goldman, Principal, BRM Capital; Ignacio Fanlo, CFO/COO,; Avi Moskowitz, Founder and CEO, Virtual Communities Inc.
The strategic approach:  use a high profile and timely event aimed at rich and powerful people to catapult the organization into the modern business world.  It is a strategy similar to an auto company creating a hot concept car to boost the image of an entire line or a museum holding a controversial exhibition to underscore a contemporary flair.
The marketing of the event included several initiatives:
  • Invitation mailing to over 1,000 guests including Bnai Zion’s current roster, additional outreach to members of the Jewish community and members of the business community including lists from business/trade associations
  • E-mail campaign to business professionals
  • Flyer postings in synagogues, restaurants and residential buildings known to attract business professionals
  • Advertisements in The Jewish Week and The Long Island Jewish World
  • Publication in regional event listings
  • The program also included a fundraising component.  Working with the client, the Agency attained sponsorship from Bank Leumi, El Al Airlines and an Israeli law firm.
  • In the addition to seminars, we supported the brand building campaign by redesigning the organization’s logo for a more contemporary look and incorporating the new design into rewritten information packets. 
As a result of this well-attended and well-received event, Bnai Zion has made its first critical steps in developing a new brand image, which will support its objectives and allow this organization to continue its good work into the next 100 years.  The client was very enthusiastic about the results and has committed to a program of three seminar events for 2001.
The next Forum event, focusing on wireless technology, will be held at the Bnai Zion headquarters on March 28, 2001.  Scheduled to moderate is Sam Jaffe, Senior Writer of BusinessWeek Online.  Panelists will include Victor Halpert, Director, Emerging Equity Research, Salomon Smith Barney; Graham Kinahan, Director, Emerging Technology, Doubleclick Inc.; Aaron Dobrinsky, Chairman and CEO, GoAmerica, Inc. and Lenny Roth, Vice President, Strategic Planning, Airslide Systems Inc.