The headlines regarding UJA-Federation’s annual campaign invariably focus on the amount of dollars raised, and how that figure compares to the previous year. This year is no exception, with the charity raising $150.8 million, an increase of $3.9 million over 2014.
But the real story speaks to the steady hands, lay and professional, that guide the organization, the largest local philanthropy in the world. This past fiscal year marked the drama of the 50-day war in Gaza, the surprise collapse of FEGS, unplanned transition at the helm of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), and the smooth transition in professional leadership at UJA-Federation, with Eric Goldstein succeeding longtime CEO John Ruskay.
It was a challenging year, but in continuing to provide support for Jews in need around the world as well as closer to home, UJA-Federation underscored the need for a centralized community charity of its size and scope. A prime example is how it stepped in to ensure that the work of FEGS, which was one of the largest health and human services agencies in the country, continued through other agencies, with the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services playing a major role.
One promising trend was a modest increase in the number of donors from 51,000 to 53,000, part of an effort to reach out to not only the wealthiest segment of the community for support but from other parts of the Jewish community as well.
UJA-Federation is also serving a more varied constituency, with programming for millennials, the LGBT community, “techies,” and people with disabilities, among others.
There are still many New Yorkers who know the good work of the dozens of constituent agencies, synagogues and other Jewish organizations without recognizing UJA-Federation as the engine that helps drive them. But the mission continues to connect and strengthen the Jewish community and others in need, here and around the globe.