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Inside the Birthright matching grant

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There is an interesting subtext to the Birthright matching grant program we mentioned last week.

The came out of a late January summit of 49 major donors held by the foundation in Las Vegas and hosted by Adelson, though he was not in attendance.

Of the 49, only three of the 15 original private funders that helped launch Birthright were present in Las Vegas — Michael Steinhardt, Charles Bronfman and Lynn Schusterman, according to the foundation’s CEO, Bob Aronson. And of the 15 original donors, only eight are still giving to Birthright. The rest have dropped off either because of changed economic circumstances or philanthropic focus, or death.

This trend, Aronson said, highlights the need to build a much broader donor base.

According to Aronson, funding for the trips has held steady. In 2008, the foundation raised between $55 million and $56 million, and in 2009 it raised $57 million — even as the mega-gift from Adelson dropped by $10 million. Fund raising, when subtracting Adelson’s mammoth gift, rose from $26 million to $37 million. By 2015, Aronson wants to be raising some $49 million per year without Adelson money. Anything Adelson would pledge at that point would just be gravy. Really thick gravy.

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