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The past year’s CJA campaign fell somewhat short of reaching the announced goal of $5.95 million, but despite that there were many positives to be drawn from the campaign.

That was the gist of the message delivered by CJA Director Elaine Goldstine and Jewish Federation CEO Adam Bronstone during a meeting I held with them to discuss the results of the 2014-15 CJA Campaign.
The previous year’s campaign, which had been under the chairmanship of Gail Asper, did hit a record total of $5.8 million, while two years ago the campaign reached a figure of $5.7 million. This year the campaign fell “just short” of $5.7 million, Goldstine said.
When I suggested that Asper’s presence provided the campaign with exceptional leadership for two years running though, Goldstine was quick to comment that the co-chairs this past year (Bob Silver and Daniel Friedman) were “excellent too”.
Goldstine added that “if you look at what we raised, per card, we had an increase of 4.6%.”
“But,” she added, “We lost some major donors. That’s where the loss was.”
Bronstone suggested those losses “were because of reasons that were specific to each of those donors, and yes, our new campaign team has been meeting with these and many other donors and speaking with them about the 2015-2016 annual campaign and we have high hopes that all of these donors will support next year’s campaign. I want to add that the losses in this year’s campaign do not reflect at all on the great leadership provided by Bob Silver and Daniel Friedman as co-chairs and their campaign team. Bob and Daniel worked extremely hard all year on the annual campaign and the fact that the campaign was only down slightly is to the credit of our campaign co-chairs, their team of volunteers and the staff that worked alongside of these volunteers.”
“There were a couple of top donors that reduced this year,” Bronstone explained, “for family reasons”.
“There were some other donors who didn’t give at all,” he added. “The concerns they had were not, I would say, with the Federation. It was not about how we do business. It was not about our agencies. It was very particular to those specific donors.”
I asked whether it was because “they, themselves, had suffered some kind of financial setback?”
Bronstone replied: “There are some issues that we, ourselves, don’t know. It’s not our business to pry into people’s personal details. What we know is that it wasn’t about the Federation. It wasn’t anything to do with how we do business or how we’ve done business in the past.”
I pressed Bronstone to be a little more forthcoming, asking him, “if it wasn’t anything related to the Federation or specific agencies”, could he provide a “for instance” that might illustrate why a specific donor chose not to give this past year or else reduced a donation?
Bronstone replied that “I’m not sure if I can. I’m not sure if I want to because those were very much private conversations that those donors had with our representatives.
Bronstone went on to say that the new campaign chairman, Brian Klein, has currently been holding conversations with a lot of top donors, including those who either reduced their donations or didn’t give at all, with an eye toward “recouping “ those donations.
“We were not told that those gifts would be gone forever,” Bronstone noted.
As far, however, as the total number of individuals who did contribute to the campaign is concerned, Goldstine said the figure was 2,800.
I asked how that figure compared with the 2013-14 campaign. Goldstine replied: “I think we had about 2,600 last year.”
She went on to note that “We had some 383 new donors. We also lost some – due to deaths” and, as was previously noted, due to some donors deciding not to donate this past year.
If there is any one particular aspect of the campaign that produced the most positive results, both Bronstone and Goldstine agreed, it was the very large number of new, younger donors.
“The number of new, young adult donors was phenomenal,” Bronstone declared. “If you want to look at the success of the Federation long term, it starts with the 22-year-old person who says: ‘I’m going to give to the Federation because they’re doing great stuff. Here’s my (whatever) donation and – we can build on that.”
Bronstone continued: “We had so many new donors who decided to give to the campaign because they work out at the Rady JCC or because their mother is being taken care of at the Simkin Centre, for example.”

I asked Goldstine how many new canvassers the campaign had this past year?
“We had 50 new canvassers,” she answered. ”Probably about 20 people retired” (from canvassing), she added. “We had about 180 canvassers altogether,” Goldstine explained.
Under the chairmanship of Baillie Chisick (along with Jared Akman) YAD (Young Adult Division of the Federation) alone brought 32 new canvassers to the campaign, Goldstine said.
Another category of donors that also exceeded expectations was the “women’s philanthropy” division, Goldstine noted.
I asked Goldstine how many of the donations to the CJA were classified as “designated gifts”. (Only top donors who contribute $18,000 or more are able to “designate” their gifts, Goldstine explained. Those designated gifts can be earmarked either for specific agencies or for Israel.)
There were approximately $1 million in designated gifts, she said, of which $480,000 was designated for Israel, with the rest going to local agencies of the Federation.

Despite the still quite impressive total amount raised by the CJA this past year, the fact that the campaign fell short of reaching the amount raised last year will inevitably mean that there will be less money available to be allocated among the 13 agencies supported by the Jewish Federation (12 local agencies plus the national United Israel Appeal). Bronstone said that the Budget and Allocations Committee of the Federation had made its recommendations and that the Federation Board was to meet May 27th to give final approval to this year’s allocations. (We hope to have a report on those allocations in the June 24th issue.)
Bronstone added that there has already been “belt tightening” within the Federation offices themselves and that, considering that any reductions in allocations will be shared among 13 different agencies, the overall “loss per agency isn’t going to be that significant.”
I asked about the specific case of the Gray Academy, which saw a huge reduction in the number of students enrolled there this past school there (from 600 to 510). Because much of the funding for that school comes from the provincial government, but is based upon the number of students attending the school, I suggested that the Gray Academy’s budget is going to be particularly hard hit.
“The Gray Academy leadership is well aware of their enrolment situation,” Bronstone commented, “and are working hard to ensure that the school is as strong as possible, both academically and financially, and the Federation is supportive of the school and its lay and professional leadership,” he said.
No doubt the Gray Academy financial situation is going to command a huge amount of attention as that school’s board and administration deal with the fallout from the drastic reduction in school enrolment. (For more on the Gray Academy situation, see “Short Takes” on page 4.)

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