Research & Design for Creative Philanthropy and Social Change


The mission of Jumpstart Labs is to develop, strengthen, and learn from nonprofit, philanthropic, public, as well as other projects, organizations, and networks that benefit society by advancing civic engagement, community-building, culture, education, religion, service, and social activism, in order to create a more just, inclusive, equitable, and resilient world.


Jumpstart envisions a social sector that is founded on community and based on a multi-generational partnership, committed to continuous and intentional self-renewal.

  • Visionaries with great organizational ideas will have unfettered access to one another and to the resources and expertise they need to achieve success and sustainability;
  • Philanthropic leaders will take a portfolio approach to their funding strategies, setting aside a proportion of their annual giving to invest in start-ups and new ideas, even as they continue to honor their commitments to successful ongoing initiatives;
  • Thinkers and doers will collaborate to hone their ideas, interweaving wisdom from across the spectrum of faith and ethnic traditions to build the vibrant next stage in our journey toward a world redeemed, a world of wholeness, pluralism, justice and peace.


Jumpstart was founded in 2008 by Joshua Avedon and Shawn Landres as a “thinkubator” for new approaches to building organizations within and beyond the Jewish community. The impetus was an explosion of creative social entrepreneurship giving shape to emergent projects growing outside the walls of institutional organizations. This new approach was evidenced across faith communities as creative leaders sought ways to express their values using the latest tools and technologies for social benefit and community building.

Jumpstart’s founders became increasingly aware of three major needs among the growing number of emerging community organizations across the spectrum of spirituality, learning, social activism, and culture:

  • infrastructure development and organizational capacity-building for visionary next-generation leaders and groups
  • development of sector-wide strategies for communal and philanthropic support of emerging organizations
  • continuing analysis and assessment of key trends and exchange of best practices

For over five years Jumpstart played a catalytic role, helping to document and define the innovation ecosystem of new projects, networks, and leaders. Through ground-breaking studies and research reports, Jumpstart helped make the case that this emerging sector was a laboratory for innovation. The goal was to demonstrate to funders and institutional players that innovation required special attention, resources, and public support in order to become a reservoir of new ideas and approaches to transform the broader community.


As innovation became more central to communal approaches, Jumpstart has increasingly focused on philanthropy as the critical bottleneck inhibiting the spread of transformative ways to do social benefit work. This led to Jumpstart’s critically acclaimed series of research reports, Connected to Give, which offered important new insights on religion and American charitable giving. Conducted in partnership with Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the series was featured in Time Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and was widely hailed as an important inquiry that challenged assumptions about where religious donors make charitable contributions and offered comprehensive information about behaviors and motivations among religious and non-religious Americans.

Jumpstart has since evolved from its roots as a support organization and think tank to become a research and data-driven design laboratory for creative philanthropy and social good. Combining decades of experience as change-makers, Jumpstart’s founders have put their philosophy of information-based strategy to work helping to tackle social issues for dozens of partners and clients.



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See http://jewishecosystem.org/resources/samplepolicies.html for Jumpstart policies.

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