Jewish Film Institute II

Spring-Summer 2021
Project Type
Full team
Project Focus
Business Plans,
Earned Income
Organization Type
Arts & Culture


The Jewish Film Institute (JFI) is the premier curatorial voice for Jewish film and media and a leading arts and culture organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. JFI catalyzes and inspires communities in San Francisco and around the world to expand understanding of Jewish life and culture through film, media, and dialogue. The organization, which began as a seasonal local film festival, has grown into an international institute that hosts live and online exhibition programs throughout the year and provides a continuum of support services for filmmakers working with Jewish themes, including grants and residencies for filmmakers and fellowships for teens.


In light of the pandemic and the organization’s shift from being exclusively a film festival to a film institute, the Jewish Film Institute convened an ad hoc team of board and staff to engage in a planning process to identify goals and strategies for the near-, mid- and long-term, which were adopted by the board in December 2020. Following this, JFI needs a business model that reflects the multi-year strategy, with a renewed focus on strategic programs, institutional marketing, and its new earned income strategy. In tandem, JFI would like to review current staffing capacity and understand the staffing necessary to achieve its planned goals.

Project Objectives

JFI sought ACT’s assistance in crafting a business plan to increase the agency’s position as a national organization while retaining community engagement through its local festivals. 

Crafting the business plan included:

  • Identifying ways to develop an integrated brand that reflects the breadth of services JFI provides;
  • Developing a marketing communications calendar for JFI’s summer Film Festival, winter Film Festival, filmmaker services programs and newsletters to ensure more timely and effective marketing programs; and
  • Providing JFI with an understanding of best practices for marketing strategies and staffing given its mission and programs. 

Project Overview

The project consisted of four phases. First, the ACT team worked with JFI to properly scope the project and develop a project plan given its current situation. Second, the ACT team interviewed staff, board members, filmmakers, and peers to understand JFI’s goals, brand, strengths, and weaknesses. Third, the ACT team used the information gathered from JFI’s peers and independent research to develop peer profiles and recommendations about industry best marketing practices. Finally, the ACT team created an integrated marketing communications calendar for 2022.

Key Recommendations

The ACT team recommended that JFI assign someone to be responsible for updating the marketing communications calendar weekly and review it at weekly staff meetings. They also recommended that JFI revisit the calendar features and format in four months and adjust as appropriate.

The ACT team advised JFI to create a style guide that specifies how and when to refer to JFI and when to refer to the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival in marketing and other communications. This will optimize institutional brand equity by creating more consistent messaging and better integrating the two brands.   

To help JFI’s shift to a film institute, the team recommended that its visibility as an industry leader was increased by partnering with more mainstream film institutes to co-sponsor panels and exhibitions and appointing an industry luminary to their Board.

The ACT team also emphasized the importance of expanding filmmaker services by:

  • offering more formal mentoring, community-building, educational and alumni programs;
  • giving filmmakers more visibility at the summer Festival; and
  • using filmmakers to build better donor relations.

The team also advised JFI to develop a separate marketing plan and budget, identify appropriate marketing program metrics to track, and, once the plan is created, catalog all needed marketing functions and map to specific people/resources to identify staffing gaps and create accountability.

Lastly, the ACT team recommended that JFI hire a social media consultant to help attract younger audiences.