Six-Word Giving

By Elizabeth Schuman
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First gift.

Ten dollars.

More followed.

There you go – in six words I’ve distilled my giving history to THE ASSOCIATED. And now the back story: I gave decades ago because someone asked me. Likely, my name was plucked randomly from a stack of names and called during a phone-a-thon to support the annual campaign. Every year, I’d get the call. And every year, I’d write a check. And for those of you wondering, yes, I increased my gift over time.

Here’s my secret: I never completely understood what THE ASSOCIATED was. Sure, I knew that the dollars helped people, mostly Jewish, mostly in Baltimore. That’s about it. Like many others, I gave because of obligation, because of community, because I was asked.
I didn’t think my $10 or even $50 mattered all that much.

Working at THE ASSOCIATED, I now understand so much more about what the dollars do. Truthfully, it’s dizzying.

Here’s a sampling, though it goes far beyond this list. There’s a wide array of fitness, arts and social activities at the JCC. You’ll find emotional, financial and supportive help for people of all ages and faiths at Jewish Community Services. Victims of domestic violence turn to CHANA. Dollars fund day schools, religious schools, and up-to-the-minute learning for adults and Jewish communal professionals. At the nationally lauded Pearlstone Center, going green has never been so easy … and so relevant. Upper Park Heights is strong and seniors have a safe, active community thanks to CHAI. With respect and dignity, our dollars fund the Hebrew Burial and Social Services Society, covering funeral costs for families that have no other resources. At every stage of life, THE ASSOCIATED is there.

Doing much requires much. Our work is indebted to the incredible generosity of donors. Of the hundreds of Jewish Federations nationwide, Baltimore has one of the most successful annual campaigns anywhere. Certainly, some of it is due to the generations of significant giving, a legacy of support, and smart planning. I suggest that it’s also because of a $10 gift.

My gift, plus your gift, plus hundreds of other gifts, matter. It’s the communal giving—the  we’re all in this together factor – that affects seismic change and impacts all of us. My initial $10 donation all those years ago didn’t do a whole heck of a lot on its own. Combined with other donations, though, it made possible – it built – our Jewish Baltimore today.

So, it is with pride that I remember that first gift and the ones that have followed. If you have not had an opportunity to make your pledge to the 2013 Annual Campaign, I invite you to join me.

My last question to you: What’s your giving story?

My six words to inspire: Every gift counts. Every gift helps.  Please donate at associated.org/donate.  Thank you.

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Filed under Families, Philanthropy, Women, Young Adults

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