Using a one-on-one approach to fund raising rather than continuing to solicit a large number of low-end donors, UJA-Federation of New York raised a record $135.6 million for its recently concluded general campaign.
“We changed the culture of this organization,” said Paul Kane, the organization’s senior vice president for financial resource development.
“We put more intensive work in engaging donors,” he explained. “We had more than 4,000 one-to-one meetings with donors to get to know them … and see how we could involve them [in the campaign]. That translated into 11.6 percent more solicitations.”
Fund-raisers mostly met with those already giving to the campaign. The new donations were at the high end as fund-raisers concentrated on gifts in the $1,000 to $25,000 range.
As a result of this new approach, the number of donors to the campaign in the fiscal year that ended June 30 totaled 72,000, down from 79,000 the previous year. The 7,000 donors lost were primarily givers of less than $100, but there were also 6,500 first-time donors.
“We decided to make better use of our resources and it paid off,” Kane said. “As a result, we had more new high-end donors and we raised more than $1 million in new gifts.”
When the annual campaign is combined with UJA-Federation’s other campaigns — including the capital campaign and legacies and bequests — the organization raised a total of $203 million.
“UJA-Federation is one of the nation’s premier nonprofit organizations, with an unparalleled infrastructure that supports more than 100 agencies and assists an estimated 4.5 million people worldwide,” said Larry Zicklin, the organization’s outgoing president. “These funds will help UJA-Federation to care for those in need, rescue those in harm’s way, and renew and strengthen the Jewish people in New York, in Israel, and around the world.”
In analyzing the reason for the campaign’s success, Kane said it is simply “telling people the story of what is going on out there — the rebuilding of the Jewish community in Argentina, taking care of the Jewish poor in New York, helping Israelis develop trauma centers in Israel, taking care of the elderly in the former Soviet Union and helping with the renewal of Jewish life there.”
“When you tell the people of the cutting-edge work we are doing, from Jewish hospice care to revamping Jewish congregational schools to helping resettle Ethiopians coming to Israel, people want to respond,” he said. “No charity in the world does more to help the most vulnerable in our community than we do.”
UJA-Federation hosted more than 100 fund-raising events. As in previous years, the kickoff event at the home of Alan “Ace” Greenberg, chairman of Bear Stearns, was the most successful, bringing in a record $34.6 million.
Other notable events were the Wall Street dinner that drew a record crowd of 1,400 and raised $19.8 million. The Banking and Finance Division raised $600,000 — double last year’s figure. And the Entertainment Division raised $1.8 million when it honored Walt Disney Co. chief executive Michael Eisner.
Synagogue campaigns in the five boroughs, Westchester and Long Island were up last year by 27 percent, bringing in $1.4 million. And the Long Island campaign was up $1.1 million to $18 million — one of its most successful ever.
In addition, the Super Sunday campaign raised about $1.6 million, a figure consistent with previous years.
“We are still building commitment and putting a lot of attention on the next generation,” Kane said.
Kane lauded the philanthropy’s professional and lay volunteers, calling them “the best around.”
“We have an extraordinary lay volunteer leadership headed by Jerry Levin, who chaired the campaign, and Marion Blumenthal, the co-chair of special gifts with Daniel Och, and the heads of the organization, Zicklin and Chairman of the Board Morris Offit,” he said.
Kane said UJA-Federation is “looking at all kinds of plans” for the current campaign, which he believes will result in another record year.
“I’m very optimistic,” he said. “People understand that we do the essential work.”
“Beyond the core support that these resources will provide,” Zicklin said, “they will enable us to generate new initiatives to respond to emerging priorities, such as creating a comprehensive Jewish hospice, revitalizing congregational education, and mobilizing thousands of volunteers to be companions for frail and isolated seniors.”
The $135.6 million raised for the annual campaign was $4.5 million more than a year ago. UJA-Federation’s fund-raising total also included $52.1 million in planned giving and endowments, which exceeded last year’s total by almost $1.5 million, and $15.3 million raised through capital gifts and special initiatives, about $7.6 million more than last year. The campaign was calculated on a fiscal year from July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2004.
“I am proud to have been a part of this remarkable achievement,” Levin said. “We accomplished this through the efforts of many committed and dedicated people in this community. It is personally rewarding to see what we have been able to achieve together through the efforts of so many committed and dedicated people in this community.
“No other local philanthropy in the world raises and allocates funds at this extraordinary level to accomplish so much good for people in need both here in New York and around the world.”
John Ruskay, the organization’s executive vice president and CEO, said the success of the campaign was an “incredible expression of collective Jewish responsibility [that] enables us to support an unparalleled system of agencies and undertake new efforts to respond to emerging issues.
“With our community partners, we built three Jewish healing and hospice regional care centers and are creating the first Jewish residential hospice in New York,” Ruskay said. “Transforming and invigorating the quality of our children’s education, we have inaugurated a major initiative by partnering with many of our synagogues to strengthen congregational education in New York. And in September, we launch Companions, a signature volunteer initiative to reach out to the 26,000 elderly and isolated seniors in our community.”