Eight years after the recession that set back both the national economy and most charities’ fundraising drives, the annual campaign of UJA-Federation of New York has nearly returned to its pre-recession level.
The campaign for the 2015-16 fiscal year, which ended on June 30, raised $153.4 million, an increase of $2.6 million, or 1.7 percent, from the previous year, UJA-Federation announced last week. The philanthropy raised $153.7 in its 2007-08 campaign.
In the 2008-09 fiscal year, after the recession hit, the philanthropy raised $136 million; since then, the total has steadily risen.
“Effectively, we’ve recovered the entire drop” since the recession began, Mark Medin, vice president of financial resources development, said. “It took eight or nine years.”
Medin said he is not aware if UJA-Federation’s success this year, the fourth consecutive increase, is reflected in the campaigns of other federations around the United States.
The bulk of this year’s growth came in the Entertainment Division (up $1.1 million), and the Wall Street Division ($700,000), Medin said.
He attributed the rise, despite a national economy that continues to face “challenging times,” to UJA-Federation’s strong focus in recent years on reaching out to several parts of the Jewish community, including Modern Orthodox Jews, millennials, the emerging “tech community” and LGBT Jews.
“We’re constantly looking at new demographics … we’re going to new people,” Medin said. He added that UJA-Federation increasingly seeks to show donors the “micro” effect that their donations have on UJA-Federation recipients, and the philanthropy brought several thousand contributors to site visits in the Greater New York area and in Israel in the last year. “We explain how their philanthropy changes people’s lives,” he said.
As a point of comparison, the UJA-Federation campaign mirrored the 1.7 percent rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average from July 1, 2015 (17,619) to June 30 of this year (17,930).
The total for 2015-16, including planned giving and endowments, capital projects and special initiatives, was $207.6 million.
Co-chairs of the 2015-16 campaign were Jeffrey Schoenfeld and David Moore.
“At a time of increasing challenge and uncertainty, we’re particularly grateful to our donors for their extraordinary generosity,” said Eric Goldstein, UJA-Federation’s CEO.
This year’s total was collected from nearly 51,000 donors; the figure two decades ago was 90,000. The decrease of nearly half is mostly among people who made “small contributions” of $100 or less, Medin said. He said many of those givers have stopped giving, partly because of tighter budgets during the recession, and UJA-Federation has concentrated its fundraising efforts on “engaged” men and women who make more substantial contributions.