In this week's MetroWest edition of the New Jersey Jewish News, you may notice an ad that talks about closing the UJA Annual Campaign "early," on May 18. Is this like some fundraising version of the High Holy Days — sometimes they’re "early," sometimes they’re "late," but they’re always on time? In a way, yes.
Let me explain. United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ (UJC MetroWest) has a fiscal year that starts on July 1 of any given year and ends June 30 of the following year. That's the basis on which our budget is run, and the basis on which we make the allocations to our agencies in MetroWest, Israel, and overseas.
In order to assure that we know how much money there is to allocate, we also begin the UJA Annual Campaign on the same July 1 date. The hope is that we have enough pledges recorded by early spring so that we have a reliable estimate for the agencies, so they can start planning their budgets. The goal is to always have all our pledges in before the June 30 end of the fiscal (and budget, allocation, and campaign) year.
So far, this is all relatively simple, even to a non-math person like me. Human nature makes it a little more complicated. We humans are creatures of habit. We get used to doing things a certain way, at a certain time of day or at a certain time of the year. Many, if not most, of the committed donors to our Annual Campaign make their pledge at the same time every year. Some make their commitment early on in this cycle, around Rosh Hashanah. Others make their pledges at Super Sunday, at various other events held throughout the year, and sometimes people wait until the very close of the campaign.
Waiting until June 30 to close the Annual Campaign has certain consequences. First, although our outstanding campaign staff can predict with a great deal of accuracy, based on past history, what our final amount will be, it isn't certain until it's certain. This leaves our beneficiary agencies in a less-than-certain position as well, which we want to avoid.
Second, with campaign staff and lay leaders occupied with making last minute phone calls and visits with our donors, there isn't as much time as optimal to thoughtfully plan as a community. The opportunity to step back, think about where things have gone well, where we can do better, and where we can innovate is greatly reduced. We want to do the best possible job of building and strengthening our Jewish community.
And this coming year, we will certainly be building community, as we anticipate a merger with the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey. This is another reason to end the campaign earlier than June 30. With the merger expected to officially take place July 1, 2012, ending our last campaign as UJC MetroWest earlier than June 30 allows us to "clear the decks" and have a fresh start as the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
So, under the leadership of UJA Campaign Chair Paula Saginaw, the Campaign Cabinet decided to set May 18, 2012, as the closing date for the 2012 Annual Campaign.
This does NOT mean pledges need to be paid by May 18! There is a difference between when the Annual Campaign closes and when payment on pledges is due. Recognizing that for charitable tax planning purposes, many people actually write checks or call in their credit cards at the end of any calendar year, donors have until December 31 to actually pay for a pledge made in that year.
Okay, I may have lost you. Let me try it with actual dates and numbers. Say my Aunt Shirley made her pledge to this year's Annual Campaign on her birthday, which happened to have been last November 10. The pledge Aunt Shirley made on November 10, 2011, doesn't have to be fully paid until December 31, 2012.
And, if you haven't yet made your pledge to the 2012 UJA Annual Campaign, two pieces of good news: you can still make your pledge and help build and strengthen our Jewish community — and you don't have to pay in full until December 31, 2012. Of course, we will still kick off the 2013 UJA Annual Campaign on July 1, 2012 (back to that whole fiscal year thing that I started with).
The most important thing to understand is that, early or late, we each have an opportunity to make a difference through our gifts to the UJA Annual Campaign. Together, our dollars go further and have a profound impact in supporting Jews in need and strengthening Jewish community in MetroWest, Israel and, around the world.
And, there’s one more thing you can do to help build community and to celebrate the achievements of the Annual Campaign. Please join me on May 23, 2012, at the Aidekman Family Campus, at 5:45 p.m. for a buffet dinner.
The Annual Meeting will begin at 7, where we will vote as a community on the merger between the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ and the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey. We’ll also honor our outgoing UJA Annual Campaign Chair, Paula Saginaw, for her outstanding two years of service and leadership.
See you there!