Despite facing another year of a difficult economy, the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago raised $78,773,343 in its just-concluded 2011 Annual Campaign, surpassing last year's total of $78,604,927.
"There is no Jewish community in America quite like ours, and I'm ever so proud once again of what we have achieved," said Steven B. Nasatir, President of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. "Our donors' commitment to the JUF Annual Campaign, through thick and thin, is the reason for our community's continued strength during these tough times.
"We owe a special debt of gratitude to our J-HELP contributors, those leaders and major donors who stepped to the plate and made supplemental gifts to ensure that community resources did not fall short, and that Jews in need would not suffer," Nasatir said. "Hats off to Bill Silverstein for chairing this successful 2011 campaign, and to all my professional colleagues who, with the volunteers, ran a brilliant campaign on behalf of the Jewish people. They did all they could to make sure that primary needs would be met in our community and in Israel."
The Annual Campaign provides the bulk of funding for the nearly 70 agencies and programs supported by JUF, one of the largest non-profit organizations in Illinois. It provides social welfare, education and relief services that serve 300,000 Jews and non-Jews throughout the Chicago area, and more than 2 million people in Israel and around the world.
Confronted with the third year of an economic recession, many non-profits across the country are struggling to continue providing services on the same level as before the downturn. Despite facing their own challenges, the Jewish people of Chicago once again responded to the needs of their neighbors.
"We are deeply grateful to every JUF donor," said Campaign Chair Bill Silverstein. "This community demonstrated what Jewish peoplehood is all about. In the face of another very challenging year, our donors showed their commitment to collective responsibility and the tenet that all Jews are responsible for one another. I am truly humbled by how community members dug deep and put their trust in JUF."
In 2011, JUF-supported agencies provided critical resources to families and individuals in the Chicago area. 2,922 families received nearly $3 million in emergency cash grants for housing, medicine and other necessities, a 28 percent increase from 2010; 14,435 impoverished Jews were provided free or highly subsidized healthcare; 44,000 were served hot meals, groceries and home-delivered meals; and 1,489 unemployed professionals were helped to secure employment, 22 percent more than the previous year.
In addition, JUF agencies have continued to assist families that pay for Jewish educational and recreational programming; led pro-Israel programming and increased advocacy on college campuses; advanced understanding of Israel in the greater community; and helped send thousands of young adults to Israel. They also have been on the front lines in meeting the critical needs of Israel's poorest residents, immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and Jews in nations all over the globe.
As community needs rise, so do the challenges to address them adequately.
"If ever there was a year when every dollar counted, this was it," said Skip Schrayer, JUF/Federation Chairman of the Board. "Our agencies are valiantly struggling to serve more people with fewer resources, and JUF will gratefully put those contributions to work helping those in need in Chicago, in Israel, and around the world."
"Our volunteers are a true inspiration," said Jeffrey Cohen, Senior Vice President, Financial Resource Development. "None of this year's success would have been possible without each and every one of them, beginning with the extraordinary leadership of General Campaign Chairman Bill Silverstein. We also got a huge boost thanks to our tireless Year-End Chairs, Wendy Abrams and Andy Lappin."
"We wouldn't have made it this far without every division and every congregation," added Campaign Vice President Beth Cherner. "We are thankful to every volunteer who rolled up his or her sleeves and pitched in to help, from participating in a phonothon to serving on an event committee. While 2011 continued to be challenging, our donors, lay leadership and professional staff worked tirelessly to raise the dollars that are critical to meet the needs of our community."
Every division of JUF played an integral role in raising money for the Annual Campaign. Every event, every phone call and every donation contributed to the overall success of the Campaign.
Two of the earliest events of the Campaign year provided a strong start to the 2011 effort. The Advance and Major Gifts event, which featured then-Mayor Richard M. Daley, raised $28.7 million, including $5.7 million for the J-HELP initiative aiding those hit hardest by the economic downturn. The annual Vanguard Dinner, starring The Tonight Show host Jay Leno, drew more than 700 people and raised $2.7 million.
YOUNG LEADERSHIP DIVISION
In 2011, JUF's Young Leadership Division connected thousands of young Jewish people to JUF through a variety of programming. Over the year, YLD raised $2.4 million from 4,165 contributors-up more than 400 gifts from the previous year. Kicking off YLD's 2011 Annual Campaign was the Big Event with Sarah Silverman, which broke all records with more than 1,500 attendees, and raised $460,000. Thirty-six YLD participants traveled on the 2011 National Young Leadership Trip to Israel in July. YLD also offered young professionals opportunities to make professional and personal connections and make a difference in the community. Programming included volunteer opportunities, Shabbat gatherings, social parties and professional networking events.
The JUF Women's Division showed the strength of women's philanthropy by raising more than $12.4 million for the 2011 Campaign, including almost $1.8 million raised by the Young Women's Board.
The 2011 campaign was launched with the annual Lion Luncheon, featuring the Honorable Cory Booker, Mayor, Newark, N.J. The 275 women in attendance demonstrated their dedication to helping the community by raising nearly $3.2 million. Ann-Louise Kleper was honored as the Kipnis Wilson-Friedland Award recipient for her many years of involvement with Federation.
At the largest community-wide event for women, more than 580 came to the Swissotel Chicago on May 18 to hear guest speaker Campbell Brown, award-winning journalist and veteran broadcaster. The event raised more than $549,587, which included $34,670 for the Women's Division Holocaust Community Services J-HELP project.
Women's Board also presented several "Connections" programs throughout the city and the suburbs. The North/Northwest program that took place at Congregation B'nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim featured the program Secrets of Remarkable Jewish Women, in which female Chicago entrepreneurs spoke about what they have achieved in their personal, professional and Jewish lives. Phyllis Tabachnick, a Managing Partner at JPMorgan Securities, Rachel Durcshlag, Executive Director of Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, and Linda Pressman, blogger and author of Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Skokie and Survival, spoke to approximately 250 women.
The Young Women's Board kicked off its 2011 Campaign with Hatikvah 2011: Bringing Hope to Others, which raised more than $45,000 from 45 women. The event featured Dr. Daniel Gordis, who engaged attendees in a conversation about raising awareness of the realities Israel faces and what we can do here in Chicago to make a difference. In addition, the Young Women's Board held Pillars 2011: Building Strong Communities, which featured child actress and reality-TV star Kyle Richards of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." She spoke about her conversion to Judaism and the passion she now has for Jewish culture. With more than 75 women in attendance, the event raised more than $55,000.
The Young Women's Board continued its success with the annual Day School Insights program. The 2011 program featured professional organizer Riv Lynch, owner of the professional organizing company Sacred Spaces: A Space That Works, A Space You Love, who educated attendees with invaluable information on de-cluttering and organizing their homes. Day School Insights 2011 brought in more than 80 women representing seven day schools.
In addition, a new outreach event entitled Pre-School Insights also proved successful. The inaugural program, entitled "Never Order from the Kids Menu," featured guest speaker Lara Field, founder of FEED (Forming Early Eating Decisions), a private pediatric nutrition counseling business, who explained how to prepare healthy and tasty meals for you and your children. More than 55 women filled the home of Young Women's Board member Karen Budin for this event. The Young Women's Board also held educational outreach programs in the north and northwest suburbs, and continued its leadership development program.
TRADES, INDUSTRIES & PROFESSIONS
More than 4,500 people attended four Trades, Industries & Professions (TIP) Annual events, raising more than $1.8 million from 1,600 gifts. Remarkably, more than 400—25 percent—of those gifts were from first-time givers to JUF. They were treated to a line-up of guest speakers that included Head Men's Basketball Coach of Duke University and Team USA, Coach Mike Kryzewski; NFL Player, Commentator, & coach of the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears, Mike Ditka; authors of the best-selling books, Freakonmics and SuperFreaknomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner; and a discussion on "Israel & the Changing Dynamics of the Middle East," moderated by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and featuring panelists Col. Miri Eisen (ret), former Assistant to Israel's Director of Military Intelligence, and Dan Gillerman, former Israeli Ambassador to the UN.
CONGREGATIONS & COMMUNITY CAMPAIGN
Thirty-two congregations participated in JUF events for the 2011 Campaign. More than 2,400 attended the events, which hosted such speakers as Linda Gradstein, NPR; Jeffrey Goldberg, Alantic Monthly; Bret Stephens, The Wall Street Journal; Rabbi Joseph Telushkin; Eli Rekhess, Crown Visiting Chair, Northwestern University; Middle East analyst Micah Halpern; and authors Ariel Sabar, Michael Dzikansky and Thanasis Cambanis.
Overall, the Congregations & Community Campaign raised $5.9 million from 6,065 donors.
JUF held four major community phonothons throughout 2011, raising $2.5 million. More than 800 volunteers, throughout Chicago and the suburbs, spent hundreds of hours reaching out to JUF donors to ask their support for the Annual Campaign.
During the year, JUF sent some 500 Chicagoans to Israel through family, community and VIP missions, producing $1 million for the 2011 JUF Annual Campaign. Missions provide members of the community with a powerful glimpse into JUF-funded humanitarian work on the ground in Israel and other countries.
ISRAEL SOLIDARITY DAY
The 2011 Israel Solidarity Day featuring the Walk with Israel was held Sunday, May 22, in Skokie/Lincolnwood/Rogers Park/Peterson Park, and Sunday, June 5, in the City, North Suburbs, Northwest Suburbs, South Suburbs, Near West Suburbs and West Suburbs. Collectively, more than 8,000 Chicagoland residents came out to celebrate this event, which annually marks Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's Independence Day. The community-wide, family friendly event featured the Walk with Israel (a three-mile walkathon to raise funds for Israel), plus food and festivities for all ages. All dollars raised through the 2011 Israel Solidarity Day equipped Israeli children with school supplies for the 2011 academic year.
Charity Navigator, the nation's largest evaluator of philanthropic organizations, has given the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago its highest rating, "4 Stars - Exceptional."