The following is an excerpt from the book Reimagining Israel by IZZY founder Josh Hoffman.
There are amazing people and organizations doing amazing things in the world of Zionism.
The only problem is that these people work for and these organizations are set up as non-profits in almost every case.
On the surface, it makes sense for cause-oriented organizations to be structured in such a way, but there’s a fundamental issue I see with many non-profits: They’re generally more interested in product-donor fit than in product-market fit.
“Product-market fit” is a term you’ll hear a lot in Israel, because it was made popular by start-ups, of which Israel has no shortage.
Although incredibly difficult to achieve, especially at scale, the definition is simple: a product that satisfies a strong market demand. If your product has strong market demand — by virtue of a good product and good marketing — customers will line up to pay for it. And if you’re a tech company, they’ll do so at scale.
Either way, the more customers you acquire, and the longer they stick around (known in marketing as “customer lifetime value”), the more successful your company becomes, the more it grows, and the more products you can develop to satisfy other market demands.
“The only way to make things better,” marketing extraordinaire Seth Godin says, “is to make better things.” Except, who defines better? When there’s a difference of preferences between donors and customers, product-donor fit usually wins out, and the prevailing results don’t always align with the organization’s community it’s intended to serve.
It’s rare to see a for-profit company encounter this issue, because what’s good for the customers — that is, what customers are willing, able, and ready to spend more and more of their money on — is good for the shareholders, and vice versa.
Hence why the future of Zionism requires for-profit leadership, complimented by our non-profit cousins. Only in this way can we truly affect the change we want to see in the world’s relationship with Israel, because we will be “forced” to create products, services, and experiences which the global masses appreciate and want more of.
And, using the internet’s ubiquity, we can quickly scale these products, so they find the most amount of people with the least amount of resources, while collecting relevant data to develop more products that tap into more market demands.
Make no mistake; this isn’t a knock on Zionism- and Israel-related non-profits, or the noble causes they purvey. It’s just that the challenges posed by finding and sustaining product-market fit — the true game-changer for both for-profit and non-profit organizations alike — and the contradictions sometimes created by what the market wants and what donors prefer, make it begrudgingly difficult for non-profits to keep pace.
At the same time, non-profits shouldn’t exclusively shoulder the burden of advancing Zionism and its many branches. It’s time for formidable for-profit companies to step up and be held accountable, not by generous donors, but by the market — a practice the modern world of Zionism has never really seen, until now.