That’s why the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s recent announcement that it met its $13 million goal for the centennial year Community Campaign is welcomed news. Let’s face it: given the state of the economy, many Jewish federations in North America are not doing as well.
As the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported this week, two out of three Americans (68 percent) say they will cut back on giving to charity in the coming months “because of economic uncertainty or personal financial blows.”
The paper was reporting results from a survey of 487 adults by the market research firm Campbell Rinker for Dunham+Company, a Dallas firm that advises nonprofits on fundraising and management.
This is a tough climate in which to raise money, yet the Federation appears to be holding its own.
That said, even with $13 million the Federation raised through its Community Campaign, not to mention funding from the Jewish Community Foundation, government relations, and supplemental gifts and the $900,000 block grant from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, it faced very difficult allocation decisions this year. Every agency, every school, every community supported program in Israel and elsewhere abroad needs support now more than ever.
And nationally, the Jewish Federations of North America just announced it is extending its allocations agreements with the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee until the end of 2013.
Everyone needs money, and there’s only so much to go around.
That’s why the other ways we can support our community also remain as critical as ever. Volunteering time — community service — is one way. Supporting the congregation of your choice at a time when synagogue membership is declining, is another. It’s also a mitzva, according to our tradition.
But as any congregation president, agency director or head of school will tell you, money is the essential ingredient for volunteers to perform their services. It keeps the lights on at synagogues so members can pray at Shabbat, High Holy Day and festival services.
And it provides food, health care and social programs for old and indigent Jews around the world.
Money helps keep a Jewish community — any community for that matter — whole.
Jewish Pittsburgh should feel fortunate that the Federation again met its campaign goal. True, money isn’t everything, but to bring positive change to where we live — perform tikkun olam — it’s essential.