During a year when many saw the impacts of an economic downturn, the Jewish community dug deep to pledge more than $9 million to the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s 2001 Community Campaign.
The total of $9,040,000 fell short of the $10 million goal for the year, but topped last year’s achievement of $8.07 million.
Campaign Chair Judy Neuman says the community should feel lucky this year’s fund-raising effort was as successful as it was. “It was an uphill battle. Without the commitment from the people who did the work [both volunteers and staff], this could have been a disaster year,” she says, adding that the tenacious campaign workers refused to let donors use the economy as a reason for not giving.
“This year’s climate was not a great climate for fund-raising success. This will be a continuing challenge, unless the economy heats up,” agrees Barry Goren, Federation executive vice president. “Our biggest challenges will be to continue making the case for the least sexy ask. With the proliferation of fund-raising that’s going on both inside the Jewish community and in the wider community, there’s more and more pressure on individuals to support specific organizations and causes that interest them. The idea of giving to a community campaign is sort of falling out of favor.”
Goren said it’s also a challenge to recruit volunteers who are willing to do fund-raising and the federation had some personnel difficulties this year as well. He commended volunteer Neuman for overcoming most of the challenges and leading the team that raised a record amount of money for the Jewish community. Next year’s campaign chair, Iantha Sidell, will have similar challenges and successes, Goren predicts. But Neuman adds that a group of committed campaign volunteers will spend some time this year taking a closer look at creative ways to reach out to the estimated 33,000 people in the greater Seattle Jewish community who do not make a gift to the Community Campaign. “Just think, if each one of them could write a check, what a difference that would make,” she says. Neuman says the Strategic Campaign Committee, co-chaired by Connie Kanter and Rob Spitzer, makes her feel very positive about the future.
Some of the successes of the 2001 campaign included two new donors of $250,000 and above, four new donors of $100,000 and above, eight new donors of $25,000 and above, 16 new donors of $15,000 and above and 23 new Lions of Judah, women who give $5,000 or more a year. The Women’s Division, which raised a total of $2.4 million, had its most successful campaign ever.
Goren said one of the little-known facts of the campaign was the success of the Endowment Fund, which received $13 million new dollars in the past year. Jewish Federation Endowment Funds made $4.5 million in grants this year, with about 75 percent of this money going to the Jewish community.
Most of the increases in the Community Campaign came in as designated giving and pass-through funds. For the past two years, the Jewish Federation has allowed donors of $5,000 and above to designate how their increases will be spent among community priorities and also to consolidate their financial giving through the federation, which in turn passes these funds along to designated agencies. Goren said that because the project is so new, the federation has been unable to determine its entire impact. Questions about whether brand-new money has been attracted to the community because of designated giving have yet to be determined.