Amid challenging economy, JUF’s 2012 Campaign grows to nearly $79.4 million

The Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, one of the largest social service networks in Illinois, today closed its 2012 Annual Campaign at $79,351,407, nearly $600,000 ahead of last year's total.

The Annual Campaign is the largest piece of a multi-pronged fundraising effort that last year yielded $206,884,407.

In addition to the Annual Campaign, JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago raises funds through bequests, foundation and government grants, the Centennial Campaign, corporate partnerships, donations to emergency relief efforts, and other sources. All told, those dollars underwrite more than 70 humanitarian agencies and programs that feed, clothe, shelter, educate, provide healthcare, rescue and respite to 300,000 Chicagoans of all faiths and 2 million Jews in Israel and around the world.

"For 112 years, JUF has been there to help when the need was greatest. Which really means Chicago's Jewish community was there," said Stephen Malkin, 2012 Campaign Chair. "JUF is our community's collective vehicle to respond to crisis, to be part of the solution, to make a difference in so many lives. No other organization in our community assesses needs more thoroughly, raises funds more efficiently, and allocates those funds more effectively."

Four years out from the start of the Recession of 2008, many families continue to feel its brunt. Faced with the double whammy of donors less able to contribute and client rosters that have ballooned, JUF launched its J-HELP program to assure that assistance continued to flow to those hit hardest by the economy. To date, J-HELP has raised more than $24 million to keep essential services flowing to those most in need.

"Year after year, Chicago's Jewish community comes through for those most in need, for the city it is part of, and for Jews worldwide," said JUF President Steven B. Nasatir. "We can do it because of an incredible culture of volunteer leadership - exemplified by Stephen Malkin - working hand-in-glove with a skilled and dedicated professional staff."

In 2012, through JUF-supported agencies and programs, Chicago's Jewish community provided 522,614 meals, food bags and grocery gift cards to those in need; gave more than $4.4 million in emergency cash grants to help some 4,000 families with housing, medicine and other critical needs; helped 1,209 unemployed professionals find jobs; made sure that 18,551 people got free or highly subsidized mental or physical healthcare; and provided support services that helped 4,999 seniors stay in their homes rather than having to move to institutionalized care.

Compared to 2008, food assistance last year went to twice as many people in need; 368% more cash grants were given; 23% more workers received employment services; scholarships to Jewish camps rose 261% and those for Jewish preschools were up 181%. And that was just in the Chicago area.

JUF's Israel Terror Relief Fund aided tens of thousands of Israelis who came under the rain of hundreds of rocket attacks from Gaza during November's war. Other programs assisted 44,194 immigrants with job preparation and placement, language skills and housing to help them integrate into Israeli society. Ten thousand at-risk Israeli youth and family members received emotional and scholastic support. And 19,000 at-risk Ethiopian-Israeli youth gained social and literacy skills.

JUF agencies also were there to provide food, medicine, home care, winter heating supplies and other necessities to 177,000 Jewish seniors and 32,000 impoverished children in the former Soviet Union, and Central and Eastern Europe.

"In some places, the economy is getting better," JUF Chairman David T. Brown acknowledged. "But for most of those we serve, the crisis continues, and sometimes is getting even worse. Without our help, they have nowhere to turn. That's why the challenge is even greater today."

"Hundreds of JUF volunteers reached out to tens of thousands of donors last year to make the 2012 Campaign a success," Nasatir said, giving special thanks to Malkin and to Campaign End-of-Year Co-Chairs Jodie Berkman and Marc Spellman. "Without all of those people, it doesn't happen. Without them, the services and programs aren't there. So it is no exaggeration to say that the success of the Campaign is the Jewish community's success, and reflects its deep commitment and caring."

"Every JUF division and dozens of congregations throughout the Chicago area were part of this, too," Malkin said. "They organized and turned out thousands of supporters for events. They dialed the phones. They spoke to friends and neighbors and total strangers. And over and over again, because they reached out, others said 'Count me in.' That's how this Campaign, and this community, continue to succeed."

Philanthropic opportunities small and large

In addition to its Annual Campaign, the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation provide many opportunities for members of the Chicago Jewish community to fulfill their philanthropic responsibilities.

In times of natural disaster, for example - from the earthquake in Haiti to the tsunami in Asia, from Hurricane Katrina to Hurricane Sandy - the Federation opens special emergency funds that raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from thousands of donors.

In 2012, JUF's Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund was the first of its kind to begin collecting donations. And the Israel Terror Relief Fund was providing humanitarian aid to Israeli civilians, especially those with special needs, within hours after the Gaza conflict escalated.

Many thousands of donors also turn to JUF/Federation as their destination for planned giving, endowments and legacy gifts through the Federation's Centennial Campaign. In addition, local corporate partners provide support for a wide array of projects in the Jewish community and beyond.

As a major funder of social welfare endeavors aimed at serving the needs of the most vulnerable populations in Illinois, the Federation also is a recipient of significant grants - totaling nearly $13 million in 2012 - from government and foundations. In addition, the Federation is a major beneficiary of the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago.

"Chicago's Federation always has been a highly trusted and effective steward of community resources," David Brown said. "From people of modest means fulfilling the Jewish value of tzedakah (righteous giving), all the way to such federal agencies as the Department of Homeland Security, individuals, foundations and government turn to us because they trust us to understand what needs to be done, and how to do it. I am constantly in awe of what all of us together are able to accomplish. And I am humbled to see first-hand how committed we are to making our world better."

An achievement of many

JUF's Annual Campaign involves thousands of hours of service by volunteers and staff. Here's what several key divisions and departments did during the 2012 effort.


In 2012, JUF's Young Leadership Division (YLD) connected thousands of young Jewish people to JUF through a wide variety of social and educational programming. YLD raised more than $2.4 million from 4,420 gifts, an increase of more than 250 gifts from the previous year. Kicking off YLD's 2012 Annual Campaign was the Big Event, featuring Jimmy Fallon. It was the largest campaign event in the division's history, with 2,600 attendees, and raised almost $500,000 for the community. 2012 programming included a summer trip to Israel, Jewish education, leadership development, professional networking, volunteer opportunities, sports leagues and social events.


In just four nights, at four outstanding dinners, the Trades, Industries & Professions (TIP) Division raised more than $1.6 million for the 2012 JUF Annual Campaign. Of the 1,700 gifts made, an impressive 400 came from first-time givers to the organization. Guest speakers at the events included Ambassador Dennis Ross, a Middle East adviser to five presidents and the co-chair of the Jewish People Policy Institute; Susie Essman, stand-up comedian, actress, writer, producer and co-star of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm; Andrew Ross Sorkin, author of Too Big to Fail, financial columnist for the New York Times, and co-host of CNBC's Squawkbox; and Michael Lewis, a journalist and bestselling author of the books Moneyball, Boomerang, The Blind Side,and Liar's Poker. The popular Trade Dinners, attended by more than 3,500 people, also brought in $976,500 in corporate sponsorship.


JUF Women's Division had another spectacular year of fundraising and programming throughout Chicago and the suburbs. The commitment, drive and generosity of the Women's Board, Young Women's City Council, and Young Women's Board raised more than $12.5 million for the 2012 Annual Campaign. Successful events focused on matters as varied as world hunger, Jewish identity and children's safety online. Among the impressive roster of guest speakers were journalist and television personality, Meredith Vieira; former CIA Operations Officer and author, Valerie Plame Wilson; a panel of women executives from the famed Harpo Studios; blogger, editor and best-selling author Rachel Bertsche; CEO, Creative Director and co-founder of FEED Projects, Lauren Bush Lauren; and Anne Heyman, creator of the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda.


The Congregations & Community Campaign department continues to be an integral part of JUF's fundraising and outreach efforts. Over the course of the 2012 Campaign, 32  congregations participated in JUF synagogue events, raising $1.4 million. More than 2,400 people attended the programs, which hosted such speakers as Gil Hoffman, chief political correspondent and analyst for The Jerusalem Post; journalists Greg Myre of The New York Times and Jennifer Griffin  of Fox News; historian and author  Deborah Lipstadt; Middle East analyst Micah Halpern; and authors Rabbi Naomi Levy, Rabbi Sherre Hirsch, and Joseph Braude. In total, the Congregations & Community Campaign raised $ 5.4 million from more than 5,500 donors.


JUF's four phonothons were an enormous success this year. The $3.9 million raised at the community-wide events readily surpassed the total from 2011 by more than $1 million. Throughout Chicago and the suburbs, more than 900 volunteers attended phonothons in 2012 - 100 more than last year - reaching out to JUF donors to help support the Annual Campaign's important work.


Missions are an unparalleled vehicle for JUF to show donors, first-hand, how their dollars are making an impact on Jewish communities abroad. Last year, 750 people travelled to Israel on JUF community, family and VIP missions. The exciting and informative trips also raised more than $1 million for the 2012 Annual Campaign.

2012 iDays

For more than 30 years, JUF has hosted Israel Solidarity Day, Chicago's largest community-wide event celebrating Yom HaAtzma'ut, Israel's Independence Day. In 2012, the annual festivities were transformed into iDays - 15 exciting events, geared toward a variety of ages, interests and geographic areas. The largest iDays celebrations took place on May 6, with the debut of two new events:  IsraFest, a day of Israeli-themed activities geared toward families with children 12 and under, and the Teen Walk with Israel, which included a program with Holocaust survivors, advocacy programming, and a hands-on service project. The money raised through iDays provided Israeli children with supplies to enrich learning and literacy.

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