Friends of American Friends of Lubavitch — Chabad’s organization in Washington — stepped up for the big menorah last week. In 24 hours, they raised $549,664 to support the organization’s projects, including the National Menorah near the White House.
“We made it, with 20 minutes left,” Rabbi Levi Shemtov, the organization’s executive vice president, said after the fundraiser ended Nov. 23.
Time was of the essence. It was the Washington Chabad’s first time using the online crowdfunding platform Charidy, developed by two Chabad Chasidim in Brooklyn, N.Y.
An organization using Charidy first declares the amount it wants to raise. Then it must line up three large donors, each of whom will match the sums given by smaller donors. The idea is that small givers will be encouraged to be generous because their donations will grow into gifts four times as large.
There’s a catch, however: The nonprofit must reach the amount it sought to raise or it receives nothing. And the funds must be raised within 24 hours.
“It creates excitement,” Shemtov explained. “The crunch of a deadline and the pressure of bringing everyone together.”
Fundraisers pay a 2.9 percent fee to Charidy, plus credit card processing fees, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
For the American Friends of Lubavitch’s fundraiser, two major donors pledged $125,000 apiece: the Falic Foundation and the Mayberg Family Charitable Foundation. (Louis Mayberg, trustee of the Mayberg foundation, is a member of the ownership group of Mid-Atlantic Media, publisher of Washington Jewish Week.) Two anonymous donors together promised another $125,000.
The National Menorah is the most prominent of American Friends of Lubavitch’s projects in the city that the funds raised last week will support, said Shemtov. Other projects include writing a Torah scroll at various Washington landmarks, developing the Washington Jewish Forum and the Washington Torah Center and expanding Chabad programs on area college campuses.