Fewer people gave more money to UJA-Federation of New York in the fiscal year that ended June 30.
Contributions reached a record $231 million even though the number of givers to the campaign, 69,600, was the lowest in recent memory. Last year there were 71,600 donors, down from 79,000 the previous year.
Of the money raised, $140 million was donated to the unrestricted annual campaign: an increase of nearly $9 million from two years ago.
The increasing support for that campaign comes at a time when other federated campaigns are reporting that more and more donors are seeking to designate their money for specific projects, said Morris Offit, the organization’s president.
But UJA-Federation of New York has not been similarly affected because it has developed a set of strategies that include "strongly advocating for the unrestricted campaign as an expression of collective Jewish responsibility," according to John Ruskay, the group’s executive vice president and CEO.
"We make it clear in everything we do, and by undertaking what we call dramatic, high-impact initiatives which can illustrate the power of the Federation to respond to emerging issues," he said.
Ruskay cited such initiatives as the new Jewish Hospice Residence in the Bronx, the help provided to bring Jews of Ethiopian heritage to Israel, and assistance to needy Jews in Israel and Argentina as efforts "designed to deepen the appreciation for Federation."
"The results of the campaign reflect an endorsement of our leadership and that increasing numbers of our largest donors are hearing that message," Ruskay said.
Jerry Levin, the 2005 general campaign chair, said the organization wasn’t "only about raising funds, but [was] also educating the community about need and building relationships."
Noting the more than 100 agencies in the UJA-Federation network, Levin said the emphasis is placed on developing a relationship "with donors by engaging them in the communal work our agencies do, taking them on site visits to see the inspiring work their dollars make possible in New York, as well as bringing community members on missions to see the programs we sustain in Israel, the former Soviet Union, Cuba and Argentina."
"This year, our fundraisers held 3,000 meetings with both dedicated and potential donors," he said. "More than 1,900 people participated in hands-on volunteer projects and visited our local agencies, where they could witness firsthand the impact of their generosity."
Paul Kane, senior vice president in the Financial Resources Development, said the $140 million raised for the annual campaign was $4.4 million more than last year and $8.9 million more than two years ago. The $231 million raised overall was $26 million above last year.
In addition to the annual campaign, UJA-Federation raised $71.9 million from planned giving and endowments ($20 million more than last year); $15.9 million from capital gifts and special initiatives (about $100,000 more than last year); $3.3 million from a special Tsunami Relief Fund; and $115,000 from the organization’s first Internet auction that was held last month.
As to the number of givers, Kane attributed the decline to the organization’s decision three years ago to stop buying lists of names of potential contributors to solicit through telemarketing. He said such lists were costly and that it was decided to spend the money instead on programs to help people.
"It takes resources to raise money at the bottom end, and donors continue to tell us that they are concerned about our overhead," Kane said. He said figures were not yet available on the number of contributors who donated less than $100. But he said the number of new donors totaled 7,700, compared to 6,200 last year.Although UJA-Federation still conducts telemarketing using names from its own list of supporters, Kane said more effort is spent in seeking support from "high end" donors. There were 1,113 donors who gave $25,000 or more in the recently completed campaign, compared to 977 in the prior year.
Kane said that while UJA-Federation has been building a strong relationship with major donors, "we are placing greater emphasis on the next generation of philanthropists and reaching out to untapped markets such as working women."
He noted that the organization has increased the staff working with young people.