JFed campaign exceeds goal

BY KEREN DOUEK, STAFF WRITER

The St. Louis Jewish Federation topped its goal of $10.5 million with its annual fundraising campaign reaching $10.62 million in 2005, its highest annual campaign to date.

Ruth Lederman, assistant executive vice-president and director of development, said she is delighted “because we completed a strategic plan with very aggressive goals and the goals are based on wanting to provide, enhance and increase service to our community, and if we keep moving in this direction we will be able to fulfill that reality.”

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Barry Rosenberg, executive vice president at the Federation, said exceeding the goal was a very important step for the Federation and the Jewish community.

“It means we can service more people, and it reflects growing momentum for the Federation,” Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg noted that the goal reached was an even greater accomplishment this year because of other causes demanding the community’s attention.

“I think it’s impressive that over and above the money for the annual campaign we raised over a quarter of a million dollars for hurricane relief,” he said. “And then if you look at our fundraising more broadly, including endowments and grants raised, it was in excess of $23 million.”

Lederman said the annual goals are part of a strategic plan “which looks to increase our allocations by 50 percent over the next 10 years.”

That strategic plan was started in 2005 and, according to Lederman, looks to move the fundraising toward a “collaborative, donor-centered fundraising model where we help donors fulfill their philanthropic dreams while maintaining the strength of the annual campaign.”

In addition to the annual campaign, the collaborative plan includes deferred endowments, outright endowments, special project money that was raised, Federation unrestricted funds, agency and program restricted funds and donor-advised and supported foundations, as well as charitable tax advantage products.

“The annual campaign is only one component of what we do for the community,” Lederman said. But she said it is the backbone and “the largest unrestricted pool of dollars that go into the community.”

The money raised by the annual campaign is unrestricted in that donors do not tell the Federation where to place that money or how to spend it and the Federation has the responsibility for allocating those resources to the agencies and services they believe need the funds.

Rosenberg said the campaign success in 2005 undoubtedly means the Federation will be able to distribute more funds to its agencies and therefore provide more services.

“Among the areas that are the most prominent,” he said, “are senior services — such things as food, transportation and housing — and the other is programs designed to deepen Jewish identity, like birthright israel and day schools, so those dollars will make a difference right away. But from a longer range perspective the needs of our community are much greater than collectively we are raising. So from my perspective there is a tremendous need to continue fundraising growth at pretty substantial levels.”

The Federation’s 2005 annual campaign was on target with the Federation’s overall 10-year strategic plan, and Rosenberg said those goals are critical in order to at least keep pace with inflation and to respond to needs for new programs and services.

Lederman said even with those goals, “We are not meeting the need currently. We know we are not.”

“They based it (the strategic plan) on the known factors today,” she said, “but you never know what the true factors are going to be, and, God willing, we will be meeting the need. But the important piece is that this is why there is a Federation system, so that if we are not (meeting the need) we can address the situation at hand.”

Lynne Palan, a member of the Federation Board of Directors, said the Federation is doing “an O.K. job, but I think the needs are so much greater than the money we have right now. We could do so much more if we had the resources.”

Still, Palan emphasized the importance of the Federation campaign reaching its goal and said: “The importance of us breaking that ceiling we have been at gives me a lot of hope. The future of our community is becoming on the forefront of everybody’s charitable giving list because that is our future, so I think we have a lot of promise that the next generation will take the torch and continue for the vibrancy of our community.”

Mont Levy, another board member, said similarly that the Federation is “working hard to respond to new challenges and the continuing support from the community will really help the Federation continue to play a central role in the lifeblood of St. Louis.”

“It is a constant game of catch-up,” Levy said. “If this campaign were twice its size there would still be need out there, but I think the Federation sets a goal that is important and is significant and is a major step in helping lots of people.”

The Federation’s goal for this year’s annual campaign is $10.8 million, which Rosenberg said is a minimum.

“We hope and we believe that we have the ability to go beyond that,” he said.

Keren Douek is a staff writer and can be reached at [email protected]