Jewish Federation Community Campaign reaches all-time high

By Jane Blumenthal Martin, Director of Marketing & Communications, Jewish Federation

Board members and staff at Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City announce the organization surpassed its highest-ever Community Campaign goal in 2017. Federation, which raises funds each year to support more than 80 local and overseas programs and services, exceeded it’s original $5.2 million goal, reaching $5.42 million for 2017. The previous high was $5.2 million raised during the 2004 annual Community Campaign.

“Thanks to the generosity of our donors, and the excellent work of campaign leadership, we have not only reached our highest ever Community Campaign goal, but have exceeded that goal by more than $200,000. This strengthens our ability to provide critical services to our most vulnerable, and at the same time, ensure our community continues to thrive,” said John Isenberg, Jewish Federation board chair.


Jewish Federation’s 2017 Campaign Leadership is comprised of Lisa Bernard, Women’s Philanthropy board chair (from left); Howard Weiner, Campaign Cabinet co-chair; Lisa Schifman, financial resource development director; Ward Katz, Campaign Cabinet co-chair; Dr. Helene Lotman, president and CEO; Dan Scharf, Major Gifts chair; Trudy Jacobson, Campaign chair; Barb Kovacs, Women’s Philanthropy Campaign co-chair; Seth Katz, Young Adult Campaign co-chair’ Amy Shapiro, Women’s Philanthropy Campaign co-chair; Jeremy Antes, Ben Gurion Society co-chair; John Isenberg, Board chair; and Andrew Cotlar, former financial resource development associate. Not pictured: Mike Berenbom, Ben Gurion Society co-chair, and Hannah Reissner, Young Adult Campaign co-chair.

“It’s really a testament to our incredible volunteers and staff. I believe Jewish Federation has experienced a very positive transformation in the past 18 months. That has resulted in a strong feeling of trust and support from our donors. We couldn’t be more pleased,” said Dr. Helene Lotman, president and CEO of Jewish Federation.

Following three years of upward momentum in the annual Community Campaign, donors continued to stay energized. The 2017 campaign numbers resulted in a 6.5 percent increase over the 2016 campaign.

“We implemented several changes to the Community Campaign in 2017: We shortened the campaign cycle to nine months, we had an incredible group of campaign ambassadors, we tested new fundraising tactics, and we shared our story with as many people as possible. We can’t wait to see what can be accomplished in 2018,” said Lisa Schifman, director of financial resource development at Jewish Federation.

One such change included the reinvigorated challenge grant, which matched new and increased gifts from donors through Federation’s Double and Triple Impact campaigns. The lead challenge grant gift, provided by Barnett and Shirley Helzberg, initiated additional challenge grant donations, and a significant number of new and increased donations. In total, the challenge grant generated $500,000 toward the 2017 campaign.

“A special thanks to all of the challenge grant funders for helping Federation achieve its goals. In addition to the Helzbergs, we thank Stanley Bushman, Robert Cutler, Howard and Cris Ellis, the Arvin Gottlieb Charitable Foundation, John and Jenny Isenberg, Trudy and John Jacobson, the Lowenstein Family Supporting Foundation, the Norman and Elaine Polsky Family Charitable Foundation, Irv Robinson and Ellen Miller and David and Ellice Vittor,” Schifman said.

Embracing Change
“All of this comes at a great time in Jewish Federation history. The organization is celebrating its 85th anniversary, and we are working harder than ever to collaborate and plan with our partner agencies to ensure we are most effectively utilizing the available resources,” Isenberg said.

One of Jewish Federation’s goals for 2018 is to continue its work as community convener, working even closer with partner agencies and other key stakeholders to develop strategies that result in maximum impact. One such initiative that recently emerged from this effort is the new Right Start Preschool Incentive Program, which encourages young families to send their children to Jewish preschool through a one-time incentive.

“Right Start is a win-win for all of us. It achieves Federation’s goals of engaging Jewish families and building a vibrant Jewish community, while giving young families additional incentive to come see what our Jewish preschools have to offer. It’s been a great starting point for future collaboration and discussion about the needs of the Jewish community,” said Jim Sluyter, president and CEO of the Jewish Community Center.

“At the end of the day, it’s really about showing support for our community and all that it offers. We are filled with gratitude for each and every person who helped us achieve our goal. Every donation helps strengthen our community, and maximizes the power of the collective. Working together, we can make the impossible come true,” Lotman said.

A very special thank you to Jewish Federation’s 2017 Campaign Leadership team: John Isenberg, Board Chair, Lisa Bernard, Women’s Philanthropy Board Chair, Trudy Jacobson, Campaign Chair, Barb Kovacs and Amy Shapiro, Women’s Philanthropy Campaign Co-Chairs, Dan Scharf, Major Gifts Chair, Ward Katz and Howard Weiner, Campaign Cabinet, Jeremy Antes and Mike Berenbom, Ben Gurion Society Co-Chairs, and Seth Katz and Hannah Reissner, Young Adult Campaign Co-Chairs.

Reprinted with permission from the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle