Giving Should Be a Personal Expression

SeniorsBy Abe Wasserberger

Do you remember the days when economic and social persecution of Jews was commonplace and Jews were forced to stick together in order to preserve and strengthen the Jewish people and community? Thank G-d, it is not 1920 anymore and Jews are able to partake in all of the cultural and social activities that draw them. Our people learn at some of the best universities and hold professions and volunteer positions among some of the most important companies and organizations. Jews can be a part of whatever moves them.

This is cause for celebration! – unless you are the Jewish Federation. Jews no longer feel threatened in America and therefore their philanthropic behaviors no longer rely on giving for self-identity or preservation. In 1950, nearly every Jew in the U.S. gave to the Federation campaign. Today, Jews give to the general causes that move them. According to the 2010 Greater Baltimore Jewish Community Study, only 11 percent of Jewish Baltimoreans give only to Jewish causes. Over half of all households with incomes of at least $100,000 do not contribute to THE ASSOCIATED Annual Campaign.

As to one’s philanthropic behavior and distribution patterns, this implies that being American – being a Baltimorean – comes before being a Jew.

And, no, it is not a money issue. In a study conducted 10 years ago, of nearly $30 billion given by 865 Americans, $5.2 billion came from 188 American Jews, constituting 22 percent of all the mega gifts generated that year. Today, 157 Jewish Federations plus 300 network communities raise and distribute $1 billion through the Annual Campaign each year from just over 300,000 donors. This is still far less than the $5.2 billion given 10 years ago by 188 Jews.

Do we need the Annual Campaign? The testimonials (and data) from our service recipients indicate that we certainly do.

  • Some 3,400 households sought assistance for a physical or developmental disability in the last 10 years, according to the Greater Baltimore Jewish Community Study. The Annual Campaign promotes awareness and appreciation for people with different abilities.
  • Forty percent of seniors over the age of 65 who are living alone are in poor or fair health. ASSOCIATED programs and services seniors age with dignity and independence.
  • One in three in Jewish Baltimore is just managing, including some who cannot make ends meet. Our foreclosure prevention and mortgage modification assistance guarantees these families remain in their homes.
  • Only 14 percent of non-Orthodox 18-34-year-olds feel it is very important to be part of a Jewish community. THE ASSOCIATED Annual Campaign supports new grassroots, community-building opportunities for young adults.
  • Only 21 percent of non-Orthodox 18-34-year-olds feel very emotionally connected to Israel. We connect hundreds of young Jews with the Land of Israel each year through allocations to Taglit-Birthright Israel and MASA.
  • The costs of Jewish education are a significant barrier for households with children and incomes below $50,000. Non-traditional, immersive Jewish learning experiences for families with young children ensure these families stay connected.

Read our service recipients stories>>

As you can see, when we talk about the future of Jewish philanthropy, we are talking about the future of the Jewish people.

So here’s the challenge – and we need your help: How do we creatively engage in a life-long relationship with our major donors, their families, children, foundations and trustees.  How do we get new donors? How do we make THE ASSOCIATED more relevant to you?

Share your feedback on our Facebook page  or comment right here.

Jews can give to whatever causes they choose. We hope that you will choose a vibrant Jewish future. If you haven’t made your pledge yet, consider DONATING NOW.

Abe Wasserberger is responsible for planning and implementing all current and yet to be cultivated revenue streams beyond THE ASSOCIATED’S Annual Campaign.  Abe came to the ASSOCIATED in November, 2011 with vast experience in development in North America and throughout the World.  Abe will develop and secure funding for projects that are critical to our community. Contact Abe>>

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