Jewish group opens fund-raising campaign

The Associated aims to beat last year's record $28.6 million effort

September 11, 2001|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

At a National Aquarium reception yesterday, The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore mobilized its core group of 350 givers for the formal opening of its "one heart, one people" 2002 fund-raising campaign, which has a hard number to beat: last year's record total of $28.6 million.

A television commercial - a departure in marketing for the organization - will be aired to help raise awareness of their mission.

Eighteen agencies and institutions are supported by The Associated, including Sinai Hospital, the Jewish Museum of Maryland, CHANA for abused women and their families, the Jewish Community Center, Jewish Legal Services, Hillel of Greater Baltimore, the Jewish Hospice Program of Maryland and Baltimore Hebrew University.

"We are the central address for funding communal services that so many people rely on," said Genine Macks Fidler, chairwoman of the 2002 campaign. "Almost every Jewish family in the Baltimore area is in some way touched by those services."

The roots of Jewish philanthropy run deep in Baltimore; the annual campaign began in the 1920s. With a population of 95,000 Jews living in the city and county, Associated officials estimated that more than 15,000 individual donors will participate.

"Our residents are [among] the highest per-capita givers in Jewish fund raising in the country," said Darrell D. Friedman, The Associated's president. "There's good, solid, generation-after-generation leadership. Other communities come to visit us to see trends in philanthropy."

Compared with United Way, which relies heavily on payroll deductions and corporate support, The Associated uses a more personal approach: one-on-one conversations in which a volunteer leader tells a potential donor what he or she has given, and asks the donor to do the same.

`Follow me' approach

"No one asks another person to do what they themselves are not willing to do," Friedman said. "It's a `follow me' mode, where we talk the talk, but we walk the walk."

He estimated that more than 1,000 lead volunteers would participate. Synagogues aid the effort by posting signs of support, he said, but do not help collect donations.

In addition, The Associated hopes a matching grant from Morton and Toby Mower, an area couple, will encourage more first-time gifts and increased donations from previous givers.

Role is `even greater'

Even though the economy is softer than a year ago, Friedman insisted The Associated could improve on the previous year's total, as its track record since 1986 demonstrates. "When there are ebbs and flows in our economy, our role becomes even greater. No one checks the Dow Jones before they give."

While no specific goal is set, officials would like to see it, in Friedman's words, "much better" than last year's total.

The worsening Middle East political situation, board chairman Morton B. Plant said, might aid the outreach: "Always in the past when there were troubles in Israel, people came forth with gifts."

About one third of The Associated's giving goes to Israel, to assist with Eastern European immigrant absorption and social services, officials said.

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