Federation campaign hits $10.8M

BY DAVID BAUGHER

EDITOR

Recently released numbers for the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Louis’s 2006 fundraising efforts show record breaking totals for both the year and the Annual Campaign.

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The Federation managed to make its $10.8 million goal for the campaign bringing in $10,815,000. That’s an increase over last year’s $10.6 million and the $10.3 million raised in 2004. The total giving for the 2006 fiscal year, which ended in December also hit an all-time high topping $29.9 million. That’s more than $8 million above 2005’s final figures.

“I think we’re both excited and gratified that we were able to achieve a high level of success raising over $29 million in total,” said Barry Rosenberg, executive vice-president for the Federation. “I think its an indication that our strategic plan is working.”

Rosenberg said that plan includes working to bring various revenue streams together, collaborating more closely with agencies in fundraising and more “focused” distributions in how funds are used.

Ruth Lederman, assistant executive vice-president of the campaign, credited several factors for the boost over last year’s totals including implementation of the strategic plan, and “making the Federation a friendlier, more open organization.”

“We’ve been focusing our appeal much more on one-on-one development of donors trying to get them to know that this is an organization where their philanthropic dreams can become a reality,” Lederman said, “and getting the message out that we’re working on behalf of the community, that it’s not for Federation’s sake that we are raising this money but on behalf of all the members of our community and the agencies that we serve.”

Lederman said that a donor-centered approach has been key to the campaign. This year 7,732 people donated to the effort, an increase of more than 100 over last year.

“It’s a more focused effort on the donors themselves, meeting with them, hearing from them, listening to what their concerns are, what their desires are and trying to match those concerns and desires with what it is we do in the community,” she said. “We’re not sure but we think the Jewish population of St. Louis is getting smaller and we have to be more cognizant of the community members that we have.”

Vice-president of the campaign Bill Miller said that special projects, oftentimes funded with endowments or generous one-time gifts outside the normal campaign donations are one key to continuing to grow the numbers.

“We know, being a part of the Federation group across the whole country, that for people to really outreach it will be through endowments and programs,” Miller said. “That’s where the increase is going to be.”

Lederman agreed that that was important noting that while the strategic plan hopes to grow the campaign by three percent, special projects can grow the totals by even more. That can have a big impact on both the community and the Federation’s fundraising efforts. Lederman said that endowments “increased significantly” this year surpassing $12 million.

“That’s what (Miller) is talking about when he says ‘projects’, someone who has a real passion for something in the community so they give their annual campaign gift but they give additional dollars for certain projects that maybe one of our agencies are doing,” Lederman said.

External events also played a role in the fundraising numbers. The Israel Emergency Campaign, designed to help the Jewish State weather its war against Hamas this summer, collected $2.6 million locally.

Rosenberg said that while he is heartened by the success of the campaign, he still has concerns about the future. Cuts in government funding, such as the recent elimination of Naturally Occurring Retirement Community earmark from the 2007 federal budget, have presented extra financial challenges for the Federation. Combined with inflation and an increasing demand on community organizations for resources, shrinking government budgets mean that the Federation will need even more support in 2007, he said.

“I think its critical that the community understand the challenges financially that our organizations and the Jewish people are facing and, in truth, as successful as we’ve been, these dollars are not going to adaquately address the needs to sustain existing services and develop new services,” Rosenberg said.

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