When organizations apply for non-profit status, they must state their missions or purpose for existing. Noble missions include feeding the hungry, doing research to cure cancer, and providing disaster relief. Once securing non-profit status, an organization begins the arduous task of fundraising to support the charity’s mission.
Jewish Federation applied for non-profit status decades ago, stating that our mission is to build and maintain a strong and united Jewish community, and this continues to be our mission today. And yet, many people mistakenly believe that our mission is to fundraise. One of Federation’s active board members announced, as recently as during this month’s board meeting, that we are a fundraising organization.
A retired colleague of mine used to say, “our mission is not to fundraise. We fundraise to fulfill our mission.” Unfortunately, this sentiment has not yet reached mainstream thinking. Jewish Federation is the butt of many jokes, including the infamous shipwreck on the deserted island—“don’t worry, Federation will find us; we haven’t made our campaign pledge yet.”
We provide for disaster relief; we bring Jews to safety in Israel; we support the needy; we build Jewish community. We fundraise to enable these good works. The work that we do is too important not to be properly understood.
Starting this month, we will begin a new project with Siena College’s NExT Services. From its website, “NExT Services cultivates interdisciplinary student-led teams to engage in extensive capacity building research and consulting with local community organizations.” The student team will be looking at our reputation in the greater community, why we have that reputation, and what we can do about changing it.
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