BBYO gets $1 million to fund regional offices, other needs

The money also will compensate for the approximately $1 million decrease in allocations this year from B'nai B'rith, which — due to the fraternal organization's ongoing financial and membership reductions — has consistently cut funds to BBYO in recent years.

Until the decision to make the BBYO independent, many involved with the 78-year-old nondenominational youth group had worried about its future.

According to B'nai B'rith officials, there are about 20,000 North American teens in BBYO, although last month BBYO's Web site placed the number closer to 11,000. The site no longer provides membership statistics.

According to some insiders, major donors had been reluctant to contribute when BBYO was a B'nai B'rith department out of concern that gifts had to be channeled through B'nai B'rith, which could siphon money off the top.

This spring, the situation looked so bleak that an internal memo circulated to BBYO's 39 regions warned that they might lose all national funding by July and would have to raise all their own money.

The regions vary in their dependence on the national office. Some raise large amounts locally or receive Jewish federation allocations, while others get almost their entire budget from B'nai B'rith.

However, the regions' allocations will not be cut this year — and may even be increased — according to Richard Heideman, B'nai B'rith's international president.

BBYO's national operations will continue to receive office space, inkind services and $1 million in funding from B'nai B'rith, but officials hope to continue to attract new donors.

The group is forming a new governance structure with representation from B'nai B'rith, teenage leadership and philanthropists.

The changes will "stabilize BBYO, set it on a path for growth and expansion and keep B'nai B'rith International involved forever," Heideman said.