UJA raises $43 million at Greenberg dinner


The UJA-Federation of New York was able to raise $43 million at its annual Greenberg dinner on Thursday Sept. 25 – an increase of $2 million over last year.

That the UJA was able to actually increase its total should probably not be taken as a sign that the philanthropy world is surviving the financial crisis just fine. But other groups should probably use the UJA-NY as a model.

The Greenberg dinner – which annually is held at the private home of former Bear Stearns chairman Ace Greenberg (ironically, the first bank that failed, touching off the current crisis) – gathers the UJA’s largest donors. Press aren’t invited, but rumor has it that the event used to involved Ace calling out individual donors, publicly reading out their pledges from the year before and asking them to match or beat their earlier numbers.

I’m guessing it is done with more tact now.

Federation leaders have reportedly been meeting with top donors individually for the past several weeks and stressing that they need to help make up for what will surely be a shortfall in New York as bankers lose their jobs and bonuses are cut drastically with falling profits or loses.

Big donors seem to have stepped up, at least so far.

Here is the press release from the UJA:



Governor David A. Paterson Delivers Keynote, Praises Philanthropists, Volunteers

NEW YORK, NY [September 26, 2008] — The philanthropic leadership of the New York Jewish community raised $43 million, an increase of $2 million over last year, at the 21st consecutive launch of UJA-Federation of New York’s Annual Campaign held last night at the home of Alan “Ace” C. and Kathryn Greenberg in Manhattan.

The Honorable Governor David A. Paterson delivered the keynote address to the 110 people who attended the annual kick-off fund-raising reception. In his address, Governor Paterson recognized UJA-Federation of New York’s volunteers and philanthropists for stepping up to the plate to help those in need, especially during these turbulent economic times here in New York, the rest of the nation and abroad.

“Every year, nearly three million New York volunteers put in more than 366 million hours of service,” Governor Paterson said. “These volunteers – regular New Yorkers – stand watch everyday and guard their fellow human beings against hunger and homelessness, poverty and despair. The work of these everyday heroes is a bright reflection of the best we have to offer and many of them are affiliated with the UJA-Federation. UJA-Federation’s agency system plays a critical role in caring for the people of New York. Now, as more citizens find themselves vulnerable, we must work together to redouble our efforts.”

John M. Shapiro, UJA-Federation of New York president, echoed the Governor’s remarks, noting that more individuals and families are expected to turn to UJA-Federation for help during the economic crisis.

“Now, more than ever, our community needs to come together and offer support not only to the people who already rely on us but to populations who have been affected by the recent financial crisis,” Shapiro said. “Due to the recent turn of events, we will see greater unemployment, failed businesses and families who have lost their homes due to foreclosure. This will just add more challenges to an already overburdened infrastructure. We cannot predict when things will turn around but we can make things easier for the lives of those affected.”

UJA-Federation campaign leadership also announced the formation of its Challenge Fund, which was developed in direct response to this year’s economic instability. The Challenge Fund pledges to match the charitable donation of any new donor and, for existing donors who donate 10% or more over their last year’s pledge, it will match the increase at 50%.

John S. Ruskay, UJA-Federation of New York’s executive vice president and CEO, said that in times of crisis, donors have traditionally turned to UJA-Federation because they know that every dollar will be applied effectively to meet people’s needs and will be allocated where it will have the greatest impact. “I wish to thank those who gathered here tonight to show their support during these very trying times,” Ruskay said. “To exceed last year’s number and to raise additional funds through the Challenge Fund in these troubled economic times is a tribute to the philanthropic leaders of the Jewish community and their trust in our organization to determine how best to allocate those funds for the greatest impact. All of you serve as role models not only to our organization but to other charitable organizations throughout New York and across the country.”

About UJA-Federation of New York

The world’s largest local philanthropy, UJA-Federation of New York cares for those in need, rescues those in harm’s way, and renews and strengthens the Jewish people in New York, in Israel, and around the world. Funds raised by UJA-Federation sustain the activities of 100 health, human-service, educational, and community agencies. Every day, these community-based organizations provide a multitude of services that improve and enhance people’s lives. For more information, visit the UJA-Federation website at www.ujafedny.org.

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