JCFs drive hits record $19 million in pledges

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The S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation has closed its 1996 annual campaign with a record-breaking $19.04 million in pledges.

The total represents an increase of $400,000 over last year's drive, and some $136,000 more than was projected when JCF held its annual meeting last month. Funds will be allocated to at least 60 Jewish agencies and programs locally, nationally and overseas.

Meanwhile, the Jewish Federation of the Greater East Bay is still seeking last-minute contributions. While its campaign also was to close June 30, the federation board voted to extend the deadline in an effort to "maximize every dollar," according to Todd Stettner, associate executive director.

To date, the East Bay campaign has raised $2.2 million, $600,000 short of its $2.8 million goal.

While the East Bay federation may be facing new cutbacks, the record-breaking JCF campaign may allow some expansion. Chair Harold Zlot, who largely attributes the annual drive's success to "a concerted effort to bring in new donors," says the additional funding will be used for a number of new programs promoting Jewish education.

"It's wonderful to be able to allocate resources beyond what was originally projected," says Susan Folkman, who headed the JCF's planning and allocations committee.

The JCF plans to fund new programs on Holocaust education, outreach to Jews on college campuses, and Jewish education for children and families. The extra funds also will be used to ensure that vital resettlement services for emigres are maintained.

In areas funded by the Jewish Community Federation, emigres also have benefited from a special fund-raising drive called New Life for Emigres. The supplemental campaign raised more than $460,000 in a joint effort of the federation and several beneficiary agencies.

Those funds for local emigre services will complement an annual-campaign allocation of $392,000, an increase of $192,000 over last year, and JCF Endowment Fund grants totaling $430,000.

In Israel, meanwhile, JCF campaign dollars will help implement programs in Kiryat Shmona, the federation's partner town in the northern Galilee, as well as assist in the resettlement of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

As for the East Bay's shortfall, Stettner says that although annual campaigns there have been down for several years, the 1996-97 campaign was particularly difficult because more funds were needed to make up for cuts in funding from United Way.

While agencies underwritten by the JCF also were adversely affected by the United Way slashes, East Bay agencies were more severely impacted. For example, Jewish Family and Children's Services of the East Bay received nothing except for funds designated by individual donors.

The flat annual campaign and outside funding reductions had already led to staffing cuts at the East Bay federation.

The situation is not bleak, however. Like the S.F.-based federation, the East Bay organization plans to increase funding for Jewish education. It plans to extend services to southern Alameda and Contra Costa counties. And it is considering new collaborative efforts with other agencies and synagogues.

It also hopes to expand its funding base next year, by attracting new donors, and therefore be able to add new programs.

"There's not a lot of wealth here. We're hoping to bring more people in," Stettner says.

In addition to supporting counseling for families in crisis, and housing and medical care for the elderly, both federation campaigns also provide assistance to Jewish day schools, museums and human rights organizations.

At the JCF, much of the campaign's success is being attributed to gifts by 1,656 first-time donors and a large number of contributors who either renewed or increased their gifts.

Don Seiler, past JCF president and past campaign chair, assisted Zlot in his effort to generate those new donors, leading a committee of JCF volunteers.

Recognizing that a similar push is needed in the East Bay, Stettner predicts more donors can be recruited through drives that increase knowledge of federation and its beneficiaries, and allow givers the option of directing their gifts toward particular programs.

To that end, the East Bay 1997-98 campaign, which is already gearing up, is highlighted by a "Family of Funds" marketing strategy. Donors will be able to earmark their gifts for programs aimed at areas such as spirituality, Israel and overseas, and education.

"This is a way for donors to not only better understand where their dollars are going but to target those dollars" toward what they deem important to the Jewish community, Stettner said.