The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona is set to begin its 2014 Community Campaign next month with a goal of $3.5 million, an increase from last year’s goal of $3.36 million.
One boost for this year’s campaign, says Campaign Chair Gary Kippur, is a matching grant for new or increased pledges made by Dec. 6. The new or increased portion will be matched dollar for dollar up to $75,000, as long as the pledge is paid by May 31, 2014.
An important aspect of the matching grant, says Kippur, “is that it’s money coming into the community from someone who wasn’t donating it five years ago. Unfortunately some of the legacy donors have passed away in the last few years, so it’s nice to see other people stepping forward.”
This is the first year since the recession that the Federation significantly increased its campaign goal.
“This has been a community that has experienced tremendous growth and with it, our campaign grew, doubling from $2 million to $4 million over a decade,” says Stuart Mellan, JFSA president and CEO. “But from 2008, we began to contract down to a $3.3 million campaign. Federation used all its available resources to maintain our beneficiaries at their previous allocation levels. Fortunately in the campaign that just closed, we were able to achieve a small increase, but we’re committed to this year being the year that we really move forward. We’re so very grateful that a friend of the Federation has offered a $75,000 matching challenge grant, which with what we know will be a generous community response, will enable us to finally begin to restore our campaign to its previous achievement.”
Apart from the matching grant, Kippur emphasizes that the campaign reflects that “we really are a community here of Jews, whether it’s Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, mixed marriages.”
With a recent Pew Research Center report on Jewish life indicating high levels of assimilation, he says, “I think it is important for the Jewish community and the Federation to embrace everybody, however they celebrate being Jewish.”
Julie Feldman, chair of the Women’s Philanthropy campaign, also sees this year’s campaign centering around the idea “that our Jewish community, both locally and abroad, is a family, and we need to work together to strengthen that family —both in celebrating when things go well and helping out when things don’t go well. This fits with the way I think about our community and is one of the many reasons why I have been participating in campaign since rotating off Young Women’s Cabinet about eight years ago.”
This year, she says, “The Women’s Philanthropy goal is 50 percent of the overall campaign goal — which is great! Historically, our women have had a strong voice and presence in our community, and Women’s Philanthropy giving makes a strong statement about our dedication to our community.”
Feldman adds that everyone involved in the Women’s Philanthropy campaign is excited about the matching grant, which is being offered by a Women’s Philanthropy member. “I am hoping this gift will really motivate an increase in giving, knowing any increase will be matched dollar for dollar,” she says.
Kippur notes that he and his wife, Tandy, are co-chairing a Federation mission to Israel next month to start off the campaign, along with Robert and Nanci Berens. “We’re pretty excited about that, to get people energized about the community.”
Many people, he says, are aware of all the Federation does locally, including supporting five beneficiary agencies — Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging, Jewish Family & Children’s Services, Tucson Hebrew Academy, Tucson Jewish Community Center and University of Arizona Hillel Foundation — and funding a variety of other programs through Compelling Needs Grants.
“I think it’s nice to get out and see what some of the other agencies, specifically the JDC does around the world and even in Israel,” says Kippur, referring to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which, along with the Jewish Agency for Israel, is an overseas partner of Jewish Federations of North America, the umbrella group of federations in the United States and Canada.
Back on the local scene, Kippur notes that the JFSA’s Northwest Division, which officially opened an office at 190 W. Magee Road in October 2012, “is spectacular. It’s a great idea” that adds to the Federation’s goal of being inclusive. The Jewish Federation-Northwest offers a variety of events and classes, from Torah study to chair exercise to a “Baby and Me” program cosponsored by PJ Library.
“I don’t think the Northwest deal gets enough kudos in the community,” says Kippur. The Northwest Division is holding a fundraising event on Nov. 14 (see page 2).
The Federation also is continuing its LEAF (Local Emergency Assistance Fund) tribute program, confirms Bryan Pisetsky, JFSA campaign manager. Gifts may be made to honor a friend or family member for any occasion. LEAF donations go to Jewish Family & Children’s Services to help local Jewish families in need.
For more information about Federation programs or the 2014 Community Campaign, call 577-9393 or go to www.jewishtucson.org.