2017-12-06 / Voice at the Shore

What is the Annual Campaign, and why does it matter?

Campaign 2017 Co- chairs Jewish Federation of Atlantic & Cape May Counties


Essentially, the Annual Campaign is our community chest. It is the universal fund, supported by donors, that ensures that our Jewish community has the resources it needs. Many people don’t realize that the Annual Campaign is Jewish Federation’s single largest and longest running program. Funds raised serve a multitude of purposes— to help vulnerable populations in Israel and around the world; to augment the vast array of programs and services offered to Jewish community members by our family of agencies; to fund Jewish life on campus at Stockton University; to engage members of our community with Israel; to connect and inform them of relevant and pressing Jewish issues; to combat anti-Semitism; to foster positive relations and understanding with other faith groups; and to celebrate our Jewish identity, culture, and heritage as a community, as often and as joyously as possible.

That is what the Annual Campaign does. That is what community members’ donations enable the Jewish Federation to accomplish, this year and every year.

Many people donate to the Annual Campaign out of a desire to do their part, even though they themselves may never directly benefit from the community programs and resources funded by the campaign. Others choose to support the Annual Campaign only if they can designate how their gift will be spent. For example, a particular donor who ardently supports Israel may want to ensure that most or all of their gift will benefit Israel, or will serve to connect members of our community to Israel in some way. Ultimately, the type of gift given and the motivation behind the gift is not what’s important; what matters is that the donor is participating in the life of our Jewish community, however they define for themselves what that is or should be.

For most donors, the Annual Campaign begins and ends when the Jewish Federation’s request for support—otherwise known as their pledge packet— arrives in the mail. Typically, these donors, of gifts large and small, complete and return their pledge card almost immediately—and often enclose their payment. Other donors wait a little longer, and will typically pledge their support to campaign in response to a second request in the mail, a telephone call, or even a face-to-face meeting. We know there are also others who may not even open their mail from Jewish Federation, or open it and then throw it away without extending their support. Either way, the Annual Campaign begins and ends very quickly for most people.

The same is not true for those of us who run the Annual Campaign. We are the ones who are responsible for guaranteeing that this community chest of funds is there to provide for what’s needed. Planning, promoting, and securing support is a yearlong endeavor for leadership and staff, leading up to and closing campaign. This includes the design and publication of materials, financial reporting, the annual audit and tax filings, donor acknowledgement, and more. All of this requires hours and hours of work by staff, overseen by leadership, plus hundreds of hours of donor solicitation.

Unlike many charities, Jewish Federation does not pay consultants or telemarketers. Members of the board and other volunteers donate their personal time and energy to work on the annual campaign. We do what we can to maximize the impact of each dollar we receive, to ensure that that money contributed by donors will be used where it does the most good.

During Chanukah, we will all delight as the light from the Chanukiyah grows stronger each night, with each new candle added. Similarly, our Jewish community grows stronger, and our Jewish life grows more vibrant and meaningful, with each gift that is made to the Annual Campaign. Our Chanukah wish this year is that more of you will support the Annual Campaign than ever before; that you will ‘Connect with Community’, and that you enjoy a joyous and bright Chanukah. Happy Chanukah to all in our Jewish community! 

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