The Jewish National Fund was among the big winners of last week’s Giving Tuesday fundraiser. The one-day social media event raised $3.1 million for the organization and its Atlanta office.
Giving Tuesday has grown since its inception in 2012 to become an international phenomenon that reaches 150 nations and generates 3.6 million gifts in a single day. It was started at the 92Y, a major Jewish community center in Manhattan, with the support of the United Nations Foundation. This year, total contributions for Giving Tuesday were expected to top $400 million.
According to JNF’s national spokesperson, Adam Brill, the campaign’s success has increased in the six years it has been participating, particularly among younger donors.
“It’s very popular among millennials and what we call JNF Futures, who are our fastest growing demographic. Those are young people between the ages of 22 and 40 and that’s a key audience for many folks in this country. You want to go where they are.”
As an example of how online fundraising activities like Giving Tuesday can inspire a new generation of motivated young people, Brill points to the new Sababa Society that debuted last month at a special media event in Sandy Springs and on the JNF website.
It was inspired by the work of Ziv Zusman, a 13-year-old Sandy Springs resident, whose bar mitzvah program became a national JNF fundraiser.
He suggested the new Sababa special donor program to the JNF’s national leadership as a way to involve tweens and teens in their local communities, while learning about Israel and supporting Jewish National Fund.
Participants choose from a variety of activities and participate in their own communities, earning points towards prizes, badges and special recognition.
In the local community, at least 19 organizations participated in last week’s event. It is all part of the last-minute drive to encourage charitable donations before the tax year ends on Dec. 31. Some organizations raise as much as 50 percent of their annual donations during the last month of the year.
According to Nancy Weissman, executive director of the Jewish Interest Free Loan of Atlanta, the nonprofit opted out of Giving Tuesday to concentrate, instead, on a campaign tied to the Chanukah holiday.
“We have never done one before,” Weissman commented, “so we are giving it a go.”
But for a larger organization, it can be an opportunity to encourage new donors or to increase contributions among those who don’t usually respond to direct mail or phone solicitations.
For Atlanta’s Jewish Family & Career Services, a major social services organization that hired a new chief development officer earlier this year, it’s one way to help raise over $1.6 million in annual donations.
“Giving Tuesday is a chance for JF&CS to be a part of the Atlanta nonprofit community and to be part of an international movement,” according Chantal Spector, marketing manager. “It is a chance to expand our donor base. It also is an opportunity to engage the next generation of donors, since most of it is social media driven.”
In the Jewish community, philanthropy is a major economic engine and American Jews, about 5 million people, are generous givers.
Several years ago, The Forward newspaper reported that, not including synagogues and other religious institutions, the Jewish community’s federations, schools and other such organizations had net assets of $26 billion.
The publication estimated that in 2014, when the report was published, American Jews contributed $12 billion to $14 billion to these charities. That was more than the U.S. government’s entire budget for the Department of the Interior, which runs, among other programs, all the national parks, and oversees Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands. American Jewish charities employ, according to The Forward, more people than the Ford Motor Company.