The Jewish Community Association of Greater Phoenix recently allocated $1.6 million for Jewish programs and services: more than $1.3 million to local programs and organizations and $250,000 to Israel and overseas.

The funding comes from the Association’s 2013 Campaign for Jewish Needs, which raised $3.2 million from 2,200 donors, according to Lisa Kaplan, Association director of planning and organization relations. This includes $338,208 in donor-designated gifts. 

The 2012 campaign raised $2.9 million from 2,300 donors and $1.2 million was allocated to local programs, Kaplan said.

There are a few changes from last year’s allocations process, she noted. “It’s an evolutionary process. Each year we’re learning, and we as an organization are making changes in response to the donors, the organizations and the national and international situation.” 

This is how the 2014 allocations process worked: Community volunteers and professional staff allocated funds through a Community Planning Commission (CPC) and Funding Councils (one that focuses on local programs, chaired by Sue Adatto, and another that focuses on Israel and Overseas, chaired by Michael Feinberg). 

More than 50 volunteers and staff  members worked together over several months in order to decide how to allocate the funds from the 2013 Campaign for Jewish Needs, according to Don Schon, chair of the CPC. Priorities were those programs that care for people in need and those that sustain and enhance Jewish life and identity. 

Local funding

On a local level, this year’s process consists of three different partnerships: school partners, strategic partners and local program partners.

Seven Jewish day schools, which make up the school partners, received a total of $99,000; each received $165 per student, based on enrollment numbers as of October 2013, Kaplan said. 

Strategic partners are funded annually, based on the totality of their programs and services. “They’re really the largest service providers of Jewish services in our community and asking them to break what they do into individual programs and then funding the programs proved to be very complicated,” said Kaplan. 

The strategic partners that receive a total of $1.1 million in core funding are the Bureau of Jewish Education ($78,000), the Council for Jews With Special Needs ($33,000), the East Valley JCC ($81,000), Hillel at Arizona State University ($80,000), Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS) ($259,000) and the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center ($525,000). (JFCS receives funds for its programs that specifically serve the Jewish community.) 

Twelve local organizations received $86,500 in allocations. Those that will receive funding from the Association for the first time are the Arizona Jewish Historical Society ($3,000), Chabad at ASU ($1,000), The Friendship Circle ($6,500) and the Jewish Student Union ($3,500). 

The other local programs receiving funding are the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival ($7,000), Jewish Arizonans on Campus ($5,000), Jewish Free Loan ($10,000 for its hardship loan program and $5,000 for a new senior loan fund), Jewish Genetic Diseases Center ($5,500), Kivel Campus of Care ($5,000), Smile on Seniors ($7,500), Valley Beit Midrash ($22,500) and the Valley of the Sun BBYO ($5,000). 

Additionally, the Israel Center received $50,000 for program funding and support. The center is a collaborative project of the Association and the VOSJCC and starting this year, will have its own budget and can raise funds separately from the two organizations, Kaplan said. 

There was also $9,000 allocated to JAFI (Jewish Agency for Israel) to use for stipends for Israeli counselors in local camps. 

Israel and overseas

The biggest change in this year’s process is the allocations to Israel and overseas programs, Kaplan said. Rather than fund small programs in Israel and other countries, Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) will each receive $125,000 for core funding. 

JAFI, founded in 1929, was instrumental in founding and building the State of Israel and serves as the Jewish world’s first responder, prepared to address emergencies in Israel and to rescue Jews from countries where they are at risk, according to jewishagency.org

JDC, founded in 1914, works in more than 70 countries and in Israel to “alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and manmade disasters,” according to jdc.org.

“We’ve moved back to working with the two largest overseas partners and the ones that have historically led the way for the Jewish community,” Kaplan said. A recent example of this work includes assisting home-bound seniors in the Ukraine and delivering food packages to those who couldn’t leave their homes after the recent uprising there.

Over the past two years, the 18 members of the Israel and Overseas Council have met with representatives from both organizations to learn about their work, said Feinberg, chair of the council. The benefit of utilizing JDC and JAFI “is that both organizations use very good and tested metrics to analyze how the money is being spent and how effective our dollar is being spent,” he said. “So we felt good about funneling our resources into those organizations because it’s so much easier for us to track the value of each dollar that we give to them,” something that is more difficult to do with smaller organizations.

Designated-giving program ends

The 2013 campaign marked the end of the designated giving program, Kaplan noted. “We would like [donors] to make their gift to the annual campaign and support all of these organizations and the continuum of services that a gift to the annual campaign represents. 

“But if then they have a special project or a special organization they would like to support, then we’re encouraging them to go directly to that organization instead of directing the dollars through us.”

The additional funds raised through the annual campaign go to cover Association operating costs and community programs and initiatives directed by the Association, according to Stuart Wachs, president and CEO. “There is much the Association does in the areas of community engagement, planning, leadership and stewardship that is funded through our budget.”

Kaplan said the goal of the 2014 Campaign for Jewish Needs is to raise more funds from more donors to address more needs in the community.

‘Gaining traction’

Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), the umbrella organization for the federation movement, recently visited Scottsdale to attend a JFNA conference and met with Wachs during his visit. 

The Phoenix community has had many challenges in past years and developed a new strategic plan a couple of years ago that was put into action, Silverman said. “It’s nice to see that it’s gaining traction.” He noted that he thinks the Association is under strong leadership, both on professional and volunteer levels.

“There seems to be an energy in the community coming together around certain opportunities,” Silverman said. “It’s exciting to see after a couple of years of real challenges, especially post-2008 when the community was hit so hard by the financial downturn.”