Jewish Federation of St. Louis launches Annual Campaign

By Eric Berger, Staff Writer

Jewish Federation of St. Louis launched its Annual Campaign on Aug. 13. 

The nonprofit organization, which supports nearly 100 Jewish agencies, programs and services, including Jewish Family & Children’s Service and the Jewish Light, is again concentrating its fundraising efforts over 100 days rather than over 16 months. Federation made the change in 2016.

As of Tuesday, the organization had raised $4.3 million of its $10 million goal, according to JFed100days.org. Of the 1,555 people who have donated, 234 are new donors. 

In last year’s campaign, the organization increased its fundraising to $10.1 million from $9.56 million in 2016. But the number of donors dropped last year to 4,354 from 4,390 in 2016 and 4,614 in 2015. 

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Anat Cohen at The Sheldon

Federation attributed the drop to its aging donor base. Thirty-five percent of donors during the 2017 campaign — and a similar percentage in recent years — were born before 1945. Conversely, only 5 percent of donors were millennials, meaning they were born from 1981 to 2000. That’s a common trend among Federation chapters around the United States.

While fundraising efforts seem to be steady, the organization could face an increased challenge this year. In 2017, the annual campaign received a boost from one-time matching donations of $450,000 from the Staenberg Family Foundation and $100,000 from Ken and Nancy Kranzberg. Those donations were only intended to be one-year initiatives, according to Tim Stern, vice chair for the Federation campaign.

He said the organization has not found other donors to provide similar matching gifts this year.

“That just means that we need to double the effort and make sure that we highlight the effectiveness of the dollars that are contributed to the organization and show the value proposition of it,” said Stern. “At the end of the day, if people know that the money they contribute to Federation does good work, they will be more willing to give, regardless of a match.”

Still, Federation could receive a boost at its Sept. 27 Annual Campaign kickoff event and annual meeting, which will be held at the newly renovated Jewish Federation headquarters on the Millstone Campus near Creve Coeur. 

The renovations, which cost $3.5 million, include adding a new elevator; Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant bathrooms; a new family restroom; and a redesign of the front entrance to improve security and accessibility, according to a news release. It will unveil the space at the annual event.