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  • Shmuel Hoffman

Grab 'Em by The Heart

Today we are partnering with Yeshiva Ohavei Torah for the launch of their Synergy campaign. We want to show you the film we produced for the campaign, and also take you through the creative process of why we made certain choices in the film - with the campaign in mind.

First let me tell you what impresses us the most about this private boys high school in Riverdale: every kid feels like he's the center of things at Ohavei. Every rabbi there goes above and beyond for the boys - marking their achievements, helping when they're down, and above all - believing in them and expecting the best of them. What these boys achieve both in their studies and in their personalities is a level beyond what most places expect of their students. We see the seniors there with a high level of both discipline and joy - a rare combination - and they are ready to excel in any field - whether in religious studies or in secular studies.

Now, the film:

Ohavei's Synergy campaign launches today; you can donate here.

How to Make Your Fundraiser Stand Out

Fundraising is hard. There's no denying it. Especially now that most fundraisers are online and on an even playing field with every other online fundraiser going on right now. So you're not just competing now with local entities who could also make a live event during normal times, but every other entity in the world is online too looking for your donor's dollars.

So how can you make your nonprofit stand out?

How do you get your nonprofit onto the top of a donor's priority list?

No one gives money because of stats, rationale, or convincing arguments.

Money is given because of an EMOTIONAL CONNECTION. A connection to you, to your org, to the cause, and to the people involved. But an EMOTIONAL one.

So, what you need to do is to grab your donors and potential donors by their heart and let them FEEL why they give or will want to give in the future.

Now, Ohavei has a very dedicated group of parents, alumni, and past parents - mostly because Ohavei is very dedicated to them, and to the students. So while we knew that the centerpiece of the campaign had to be an emotional film, we also knew that Ohavei is a place of passion for Torah, and love (hence the name of the yeshiva) for its people. So we knew we would be able to create heartfelt film, a potential tearjerker.

We are not asking in this film for money for an institution, but rather for the Rebbeim who teach our precious children. It all boils down to the children, because there are two main things that Jews care about: The Jewish Past, and The Jewish Future.

We created a film in which we highlight the work and impact of the Rebbeim on their students, and we were fortunate enough that when the rebbeim viewed what the alumni had to say about them, they teared up themselves.

And the key here is that the ask at the end comes not from the director, not from the administrators, and not the teachers. No, the ask comes from the student body and alumni.

This is an area where we see too many institutions fall. The admin wants to get in front of the camera and misses the mark. Sometimes that's relevant and important. But when asking for crucial funds, donors need to see the people and the cause that they really care about. Ohavei's Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Pechter, and its Executive Director Rabbi Tesser knew that this was not about them. This was about the connection between the students and their teachers. This is what Jewish learning has been about for millennia. The rest is commentary.

Therefore we let the students ask on behalf of the yeshiva. Because after all, it's their future that's at stake here.

If it would come from the administrators, or the Rosh Yeshiva, it's one degree removed from the parents, emotionally speaking.

Therefore we designed the campaign - together with Ohavei - around the students and their testimony of how the rebbeim at Ohavei impacted their lives. Because in the end education is all about the students.


  1. Find the demographic that is the closest to the donors (students, friends, customers) and let them do the talking.

  2. Create an emotional story and connection with your audience.

  3. Make it look good. Make the arc of your story compelling.

The boys at Ohavei are learning an extra 10 hours this week in order to get sponsorships and raise funds, on top of their already rigorous learning schedule.

They're all in. So are we.

213 views5 comments


Apr 29, 2021

"Queen's Gambit" took the mundane & pushed it to dramatic heights. Your dance of light, dignified rabbinical portraits, violins & cellos, sweet young men & monologues of give & take, lehavdil, pushed the holy into even holier heights! The climatic finale was unexpectedly moving.

Shmuel Hoffman
Apr 30, 2021
Replying to

Amazing, thank you so much for the feedback.


Victoria Jorgensen
Victoria Jorgensen
Apr 28, 2021

As usual, great job! Wonderful use of music, incredible lighting and excellent transitions. You have the ability to make an otherwise boring subject interesting to everyone!

May 04, 2021
Replying to

I think what Victoria Jorgensen meant by "boring" is that it's all the same videos: "our place is unique" (how many unique places at the end of the day??), "our teachers are passionate", the students talk about it as "a place that has changed their life". It's a very formatted genre with always the same setup: interviews and/or b-rolls. And as, the main goal for the client is only to raise money, there is not much room for creativity and artistic direction. But you made it pretty.

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