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Federation campaigns see mixed results in early returns

The Jewish federation system is starting to get a picture of how this year’s fund raising compares to last year, and the early returns are a somewhat positive mixed bag.

A number of the country’s largest federations that end their fiscal years June 30 have started to make their numbers public. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights from a few significant federations:

  • The country’s largest Jewish federation exceeded its initial fund-raising goals for fiscal year 2010. The UJA-Federation of New York raised $136.1 million through its annual campaign, beating its projection of $134 million, the federation announced last week. The federation also raised $39.3 million in planned giving and endowments, and $5.3 million in capital gifts and special initiatives, raising a total of $180.7 million for the 2010 fiscal year.
  • The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore will raise more than $43.9 million, a 2.4 percent increase from the previous year, according to The Baltimore Jewish Times. That includes gifts from 1,415 new donors. But allocations will include a $703,000 drop in funding for Israel and overseas programs because Associated officials are focusing on local services.
  • The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia only saw a 2 percent decline in overall giving last year, but it has had to make significant cuts to a number of its long-standing affiliates because the unrestricted money from donors has shrunk significantly, The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent reported. The federation raised $27.8 million during its fiscal year 2009, and actually saw a $1 million increase in total revenue due to increases from its endowment, the government and other charities, including the United Way. But it had to make major cuts because the money that comes from unrestricted donations from the local Jewish community dropped by 14 percent, or $1.8 million. The $16.2 million brought in through unrestricted funds will be divided among 70 organizations, with several seeing cuts and others completely left out. Social service programs, social responsibility programs and overseas programs took the biggest hit.

Fundermentalist’s take: According to the federations’ umbrella group, the Jewish Federations of North American, the total numbers are fairly positive. The federations that have reported say they took in $660 million this past year, about $10 million more in total than the previous year at this time, and the average gift is up by about 3.4 percent.

Those are certainly positive numbers, especially given that last year, the average gift was down by 4.3 percent.

On the other hand …

In 2009, the federations raised $808 million through their campaigns (this does not include money for capital projects, endowments and special campaigns, which annually total more than $1 billion). But that was down from $918 million the previous year, before the recession really took hold. And even though the average gift has grown in 2010, the growth has not erased the 4.3 percent decrease from 2008-09.

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