Despite a sluggish economy that hurt fund-raising at many charities, UJA-Federation of New York realized an increase of $1.4 million in its annual capital campaign and added more than 1,000 new donors.
"These results reflect recognition that [projects] UJA-Federation support in New York, Israel and throughout the world are essential," said John Ruskay, UJA-Federation’s executive vice president.
Figures released last week showed that UJA-Federation raised $131.1 million in its 2003 annual campaign that ended June 30, compared with $129.7 million last year. In addition, it raised about $8 million for the Israel Emergency Fund.
Paul Kane, senior vice president for finance resource development, said the money raised this year for the IEF, which funds programs developed in response to Palestinian terror attacks, was in addition to the $39 million pledged a year ago.
Kane said he was gratified to see new pledges because the major push for the IEF campaign was made last year when the campaign began. Pledges may be paid over three years.
Planned giving also increased in the 2003 campaign, totaling $50.6 million compared with $37.4 million a year ago: an increase of $13.1 million. And money raised through an in-house telemarketing campaign raised $4.7 million from 22,601 gifts, up from $4.1 million raised a year ago from 21,600 donors.
Kane said telemarketing has worked well for the organization and "is an important way to hit the mass market." He noted that contributions through UJA-Federation’s Web site, www.ujafedny.org, became possible for the first time last year and that he expects the site to become more popular as donors feel increasingly comfortable using it.
When combined with $8 million raised for capital gifts and other special initiatives, plus $6.7 million in other revenue, Kane said UJA-Federation raised slightly more than $200 million in its 2003 campaign. But he pointed out that the organization took in even more because donors are still paying off their three-year pledges to the IEF campaign.
He also noted that the number of donors to the annual campaign increased from 78,400 to 79,600 and that gifts from new donors totaled $2.1 million.
Kane pointed out that the number of donors who contributed a minimum of $1,000 was 900, a figure that has been on the rise in recent years.
"I believe that the key to our future growth is going to be capturing a greater market share of those donors who are capable of giving $1,000 or more," he said. "We have a variety of new strategies to do that, and we’ll be announcing them in the fall."
Ruskay said the money raised in the campaign provides "food, clothes and medicine to Jews in Buenos Aires, and it makes it possible for every Jew who wants to make aliyah from the former Soviet Union, Argentina and elsewhere to do so. It provides a core infrastructure of human services, Jewish education and rescue and resettlement that is essential for our people."
The most effective way of explaining the work of UJA-Federation, he said, is to take groups on tours of beneficiary agencies here. Five years ago, about 500 people took the tours; that figure doubled this year.
"Seeing the Jewish homeless, the Russians, the elderly and students on campus makes the case of why this campaign is needed," Ruskay said. "We have made special efforts to reach out to younger donors … and to executive Jewish women who are working."
Ruskay said he is aware that UJA-Federation’s community federated campaign represents a different approach than campaigns that are more personalized.
"People understandably want to and should support institutions that serve them: their synagogue and local JCC, Hillel and their alma mater," he said. "But if they only do that, our capacity to serve the poorest and most in need, the elderly and the immigrant, will be undermined. That gives our leadership and staff the passion to seize every opportunity to communicate who we are and what we are about. These results are a testimony to their efforts."
Kane noted that there were also a large number of celebrities and politicians at campaign events, some of whom attended because of the honoree and others who came to speak or perform. Among them were Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; performers Charles Grodin, James Earl Jones, Christine Lahti, Patti LaBelle and Mariah Carey; and Yankees manager Joe Torre.
"It was an extraordinary campaign," Kane added, "even without the emphasis on the IEF, a poor economy and at a time when most nonprofits were down 10 percent to 40 percent."
He credited the professional staff and the volunteers led by campaign co-chairs Susan Stern and Harvey Schulweis and special gifts chairman Jerry Levin, along with the executive team led by board chairman Morris Offit and president Larry Zicklin, with making the campaign a success.