“Why should I give to you?” she asked. “I give to the charities I like here at home. Sometimes I give to Israeli things I like too. Why should I give to you as well?”
It was a good question.
Here’s what I said.
First, I’m really glad that you’re giving to several charities. If you give to four, you’ll probably give to five and that’s good for the community and good for you too. You’ll feel better about yourself, and you’ll make more of an impact. Don’t stop.
Philanthropy and generosity are cumulative, not exclusive.
Second, no one else can do what our Jewish Federation does. No one cares for those in need, builds Jewish community, and initiates rescue programs with just 24 hours’ notice. All the amazing things that make you proud—pulling Jews out of dangerous places, sending emergency funds to Israeli hospitals and kids at risk under missile attack, providing immediate support for hurricane victims, lobbying for and securing funds for Holocaust survivors—none of these can happen without a Federation infrastructure behind them. PJ Library, Birthright, Summer camps, Community security – all of these, and much more, are funded by Federation and the dollars you give to our UJA Annual Campaign. You can’t actually give up front to this crisis or that emergency. You have to give to an organization that reflects your values so that the funds are ready at that moment.
Third, Federation is there to ensure that the most important needs of our community are covered.
And we take this responsibility very seriously.
We work in collaboration with our partner agencies and all the programs we support to assess the impact each is making on the community and to inform our funding decisions.
When a new philanthropic initiative is presented, we evaluate its appropriateness and whether it’s rooted in our shared Jewish values.
Only Federation has this wide-angle lens approach to the community – with the ability to understand the strengths of our services, the needs and costs associated with meeting these needs, and how we can make the greatest impact.
Our Federation does this work every day.
We debate. We listen. We negotiate. We promote the ideal of a community.
It’s counter-cultural in this day in age, but it’s awesome.
I don’t know when the next crisis, the next emergency, the next opportunity is coming.
But I know who will respond. And I want you standing with us when it happens.
Give – not just to do good.
But to do great.