Ukraine distress boosts Federation fundraising

But local spike in antisemitism not thought to play a role in 2022 gains.

Source: The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

Support for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion helped The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington increase its fundraising totals slightly in 2022.

The Federation raised $25.6 million for its 2022 annual campaign, about $1 million more than was raised during 2021, according to Zach Briton, the agency’s chief development officer.

“We achieved our goal,” Briton said, noting that the goal was $25.5 million.

Much of that total went to targeted areas, including security and enabling young people to become engaged in Jewish life, said Gil Preuss, Federation CEO.

“That’s been true for the past four or so years, and I expect it to continue,” he said of donations going to specific, targeted areas.

Aiding the people of Ukraine was one of the 2022 annual campaign’s targeted goals. The Federation raised $2.5 million from 3,400 donors to its Ukraine Emergency Response, which Preuss called “surprising in many ways.”

He explained that 60% of donations for Ukraine were from new or lapsed donors who haven’t given recently. Not all the money came from Jewish donors, he added.

Besides the annual campaign, another $18.6 million was raised for the Jewish Community Foundation, which includes permanent endowment and donor advised funds. This figure is lower than in 2021.

“That shifts from year to year,” Briton said.

“The foundation funding is very idiosyncratic, depending on the [financial] market,” Preuss said. The Federation strives to keep foundation funding “on an upward slope” through the years, and that is what is happening, he said.

The overall number of donors increased by more than 20%. Briton attributed that “largely because of Ukraine. Many of those who stepped up were new donors.”

During 2022, 9,000 donors contributed. The Federation strives to obtain new donors, especially those under 45 years of age as a way to continue funding the Jewish community’s future, Briton said.

“We have seen some moderate growth there over the past few years,” he noted. During 2021, there were about 7,500 donors. In 2020, about 8,000 people gave. “We do have a high retention rate of donors year after year which we are incredibly grateful,” he said.

The Federation’s executive committee will meet this month with its strategic planning and allocations committee and its finance committee to map out how to disperse the donations.

As usual, there will be an emphasis on “caring for the community, those in need,” Briton said.

Money also is expected to be designated for the security of the community and its institutions and to expand opportunities for community members to become more engaged in Jewish life.

A new targeted area this year will be teen mental health support. The Federation is seeking the most effective ways to allocate funds for this, Preuss said.

Preuss did not believe the recent rise in antisemitic vandalism, graffiti and harassment played a role in fundraising.

“I don‘t think it’s had any impact in the short term,” he said, adding there is concern. “I think it’s still a little early” for the spate of antisemitic acts to affect fundraising, Preuss said.

In his letter to Federation board of directors, Jewish Community Foundation trustees, strategic planning and allocation committee members, campaign ambassadors and Federation’s professional team, Briton said the 2022 annual campaign’s success “ensures that Federation will be able to continue addressing the most critical issues facing our community in the next year, including caring for individuals and families in need, strengthening and sustaining security in our region as we continue to combat antisemitism and expanding opportunities for community members of all ages and background to engage in Jewish life, learning and global Jewish peoplehood.” ■

Suzanne Pollak is a freelance writer.

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