ThinkingStrategically

Over the past 10 years, AJWS has grown exponentially. Since 2002, our annual budget has increased from $6.7 million to more than $53 million—700 percent growth! This expansion has validated our belief that the Jewish community is passionate about working to end poverty in the developing world. But it has also necessitated some strategic thinking about how to focus our growth toward making the greatest impact.

In 2011, we underwent an intensive strategic planning process to chart our course into the future.

First, we wrestled deeply with the question: "What is the transformation AJWS is seeking to achieve in the world?" We agreed that all of our efforts—from making grants in developing countries to lobbying on Capitol Hill to engaging the Jewish community in dialogue about justice—should be directed toward ensuring that marginalized people in the developing world realize their human rights.

This vision is the culmination of a shift that we've been undergoing in recent years, from being an organization that works to alleviate poverty to an organization that supports human rights.

As a human rights organization AJWS has set its goals even higher.

In fighting poverty, we help people find jobs, housing, health care, education. In promoting human rights, we do all that and more. Human rights work delves into the deeper issues: seeking to address and reverse the inequalities and injustices that lead to poverty in the first place. For people struggling to raise themselves out of poverty, this means owning their land and food sources, having autonomy over their bodies and their sexuality, being free from violence and oppression, and having a voice in creating the laws that govern them. We work to win these rights so that poverty can be overcome in the long term.

To achieve this goal, we're now pursuing two parallel strategies: We empower poor and marginalized people in the developing world to improve the life of their communities, know their rights and gain collective power to effect change. We work to influence our government and the international community to adopt laws and policies that ensure that human rights in the developing world are respected, protected and fulfilled. In the coming years, we'll be making key changes to our international and domestic work that will help move us closer to these goals:

Internationally, AJWS will be focusing its geographic and thematic footprint to increase our impact. We'll be deepening our work in 19 countries and phasing out of others, which will enable us to mobilize stronger movements for social change in the places where we think the greatest gains can be made. Over the next several years, we will also establish international offices on three continents, which will become hubs for our grantees to access support, organize and collaborate.

Our work will home in on three main issues: protecting the right to food, land and water; promoting sexual rights and gender equality; and supporting recovery from conflict and repression. With more of our grantees aligning to pursue the same goals, we will amass greater power toward changing attitudes, laws and injustices.

Nationally, AJWS will continue to represent our community as the Jewish voice for global justice, but we will be doing more to empower our constituents to become spokespeople for change. By mobilizing our volunteers, alumni, donors, Jewish leaders, allies and representatives in government to pursue changes in U.S. policy, we will multiply our impact on the lives and human rights struggles of people in the developing world.

We look forward to reporting our progress in the coming years, and to ushering in global change that will speak for itself.

Skip to Evaluating our Progress to learn about our new systems for monitoring and evaluation.

About AJWS

Inspired by Judaism's commitment to justice, American Jewish World Service works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world.

About this report

This is a Web-only annual report. No paper, period! This change saved AJWS thousands of dollars that we can now spend fighting poverty and defending human rights. Going online also saved 30 tons of wood and 206,173 gallons of water. It prevented 18,575 lbs of greenhouse gases from polluting our air and kept 23,443 lbs of solid waste out of our landfills! Now that's savings we're proud of.