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UJC: Campaign pledges are down

The 2008-2009 fiscal year for the United Jewish Communities, the north American Jewish federation system, ended June 30. Here are some numbers:

  • In 2008, the combined campaigns of all 144 Jewish federeations brought in $912 million.
  • That is up slightly from the 2007 total of $911 million.
  • The number of donors to the federations fell, but the size of each gift by someone who gave the previous year grew by 1.3 percent.
  • The women’s campaign brought in $183 million of the total.
  • Canadian federations brought in $100 million. The previous year Canadian federations brought in more than $140 million.

The campaign pledges so far for 2009-2010 are not good, as giving to the federations is down significantly:

  • So far the federations have received $608 million in pledges.
  • At the same time last year the federations had taken in $714 million.
  • So far the federations have seen the size of the average gift drop by 4.3 percent.
  • The UJC is projecting a 13 percent decrease in fund raising for this year, whereas at the same time last year giving was up 3.1 percent.

The numbers are a bit complicated, because each federation ends its campaign at a different time. Larger federations tend to use a fiscal year (July 1-June 30), while smaller federations use a calendar year.

Some federations this year are also keeping their campaign open another 30-60 days to offset losses from 2008, so the numbers are not yet complete.

“Obviously we are not surprised,” the UJC’s spokesman, Joe Berkofsky, told The Fundermentalist. “We expected there to be an economic impact, on the Jewish philanthropic landscape generally, and federations and other organizations are being impacted just like other nonprofits being impacted. That said, historically there is good data. There have been studies over time by Giving USA, The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and The Chronicle of Philanthropy that say that while economic and financial insecurity affect giving, the Jewish federation system has suffered less during times of economic upheaval.”

Berkofsky said that during the economic downturn of 1990-1991, the federations were able to raise $600 million for Operation Exodus to bring Jews out of the former Soviet Union. And in 2001-2002, during the post 9/11 economic downturn, the federations raised $300 million for the first Israel Emergency Campaign to help Israel during the intifada.

“We have historic data to show that trend-wise we have reason to be optimistic,” Berkofsky said. “We are generally taking an approach that the philanthropic landscape is changing, and organizations have to rethink their core business and fund raising strategies. Federations will look to be more efficient, collaborate more closely, share cost and resources and be more strategic in the way they plan and deliver services.”

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