Achisomoch Blog

An Interview With AAC CEO Matti Fruhman

September 03 2021

Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I was born and bred in Manchester. I took an undergraduate degree in European Studies and German at the University of Manchester and spent a year working in Berlin. Whilst there, I became involved with the Jewish community, which was a great experience as the community (and Germany) itself was rapidly changing. Following that, I worked for Bnei Akiva in London, and then returned to Manchester where I completed a Masters degree at Manchester Business School.

Following my Masters, I worked for the Rothschild Foundation, which supported Jewish community life across Europe.

In 2009, I became founding director of a new charity called TAG which took Israeli knowledge and expertise to developing countries. Working with Israeli non-profits like Magen David Adom, I spent a lot of time in fascinating places like Azerbaijan, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. During the 5 years in which I led the organisation we worked on incredible projects, receiving significant funding from a range of international organisations, including the United Nations. The programme of which I am most proud of is ‘Plan Bee’, a project in Myanmar where we trained locals in a variety of apiculture activities using Israeli expertise, resulting in the locals producing their own honey and candles to sell. This project was very much based on Jewish values – literally giving them the tools to fish.

Following this, I established an e-commerce platform focusing on trips and tours in Southeast Asia specifically giving people access to experiences. The amazing thing about travelling to places with few Jews is having the ability to interact with the local communities. Highlights include making up a minyan for a wedding in Bangkok, and going to the shul in Yangon, Myanmar, where the chairman of the community showed me the Sifrei Torah that were brought with them 100 years earlier from Iraq!

How did you first get involved with AAC?
I joined around a year ago as Chief Executive and haven’t looked back. My passion has always been non-profits, particularly within the Jewish community. I have been fortunate to have a business and non-profit background and AAC’s ability to facilitate giving in a most efficient way was really appealing to me.

Apart from AAC what is your involvement in the community?
At the moment I am a trustee of Mizrachi UK as well as Yom Hashoah UK. I have previously represented Hendon United Synagogue on the Board of Deputies.

Are there any particular highlights that stand out for you at AAC?
The AAC team is a pleasure to work with on a day-to-day basis. This really makes life a lot easier and AAC is lucky to have such quality people. With our office move and increase in hours, we continue to expand, making giving easier for clients and building on the excellent service that AAC has always provided.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far at AAC?
There are new challenges every day in an organisation like AAC. Due to the ever increasing usage of online systems, we have to ensure that our technology remains strong and secure. Our fantastic IT team works tirelessly to maintain the high standard that our clients have become accustomed to.

Is there anything about AAC that people would be surprised to know?
While I always knew AAC had strong compliance, the level of compliance that it has – and needs to have and aspires to have – would surprise many people. An organisation of our size must ensure that all of its processes are robust and constantly reviewed, to make sure that people can have confidence in AAC. I would also mention I am constantly surprised or perhaps better, inspired, that this is a huge effort by a fantastic team of professionals, trustees and advisors who I work with day in day out. The people and processes are the key to our success.

Is there any stand out thing you have learned in your time at AAC?
I think it’s amazing how second nature it is in our community to give. I was watching the recent Cricket Match between England and India and they were raising funds in support of cancer research in memory of the wife of a former England captain – a very worthy cause. It was broadcast live in many mainstream national outlets. While they raised a lot, in comparison to the appeals we have in the community and the amounts that people give… Mi Keamcha Yisroel!

Is there an achievement or contribution you are most proud of?
We have done a lot this year. Yom Tov Giving, our office move, a new client ticketing system enabling efficient customer service, and this newsletter! Look out for more in the coming months. On a high level it is knowing that we have processes that allow clients to support Tzedokohs with ease and the fact that we raise significant funds to distribute each year.

How has your involvement with AAC changed you?
I now understand more about the importance of customer care and how we, at the centre, have a tremendous influence over the way people give Tzedokoh – and that there is much more we can and should do.

What excites you most about the future of AAC?
There is huge potential. Having been involved in IT projects, the opportunities to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of giving for our clients will only increase. This is a very exciting time. We must continue to underpin all of this with our strong compliance, as this really does reinforce everything that we do.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with clients?
AAC is unique. The important thing is to continue to be able to cater for all our clients – being cross-generational and from different parts of the community, they often want different services from us. We need to ensure that we continue to offer a high level of service for all of our clients, understanding that there can be those who are not as IT-literate as others, and those that prefer a different way of working. Please talk to us!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
The organisation could not function without the fantastic team we have at AAC! If I start listing all the names I would be afraid to miss people out; each one of them does an incredible job on a daily basis. The truth is I am only as good as the team. Click here to see exactly who makes AAC so fantastic. They are always available – way beyond regular working hours – and will always go the extra mile. It is a true honour and privilege to work with such people on a daily basis. We hope to be able to start introducing you to more of the team in the near future!

This article was featured in the Rosh Hashonoh 2021 newsletter. Click here to download the full newsletter.