The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Centennial Year Annual Campaign closed last week after achieving its record goal of $13 million.
“We were confident it would come in,” Federation Chair Louis Plung told the Chronicle, crediting the community donors for achieving the goal.
Technically, the campaign remains open to accommodate a few outstanding commitments, he said, and it’s possible the 30-member allocations committee could meet again to reconsider where to put funds that come in above the campaign goal.
In public statements, Campaign Chair Jimmy Wagner and Co-Chair David Sufrin also thanked the community and the hundreds of campaign volunteers for their support this year.
“For 100 years, this community has raised the funds that allow the Federation to meet the ongoing needs of Jewish Pittsburgh with an innovative approach and an unparalleled record of success,” Wagner said. “That is something to be truly proud of.”
Added Sufrin, “We recognized that honoring our past was a crucial element to making this year special. But we
never lost sight of the people who need our help and the work we need to accomplish to secure our Jewish future. The Annual Campaign is our community’s commitment to addressing critical issues and helping others live meaningful lives in safety, good health and dignity.”
While the allocations committee met earlier than normal this year because of the upcoming Mega Mission, and disbursed based on $12.9 million in donations raised, Plung said they also had contingency allocations ready in case the campaign reached its $13 million goal.
“It’s really gratifying to see how many people participate [on the allocations committee] and how thoughtful in their deliberations they are.”
He credited a growing number of younger donors for reaching this year’s goal.
“While the actual number [of donors] has gone down over a 10-year period because of lost population, what we’re seeing is a resurgence, particularly by those under 40,” Plung said. “I think donations among our young population are growing.”
He cited the Weechsler Fellowships and the new members of the National Young Leadership Cabinet as ways the Federation uses to connect with young adults and get them involved in community life.
“I think there is a resurgence of activity among our young members that’s been building for a number of years,” Plung said. “I think the [Mega] Mission contributed to that; it’s been great and a launch pad for the next five to seven years.”
Throughout the fiscal year, the Federation has been celebrating its centennial year with special events and festivities that included a Gala at Phipps Conservatory; JFest: A Celebration of Israel Independence Day & the Jewish Community; a traveling exhibit about the Federation’s 100 years; and the 290-participant Mega Mission to Israel.
The Federation identifies, supports and addresses the full range of social service issues and community needs. It identifies and funds organizations that care for people in need in Pittsburgh, in Israel and around the world as well as those that nurture and sustain the Jewish community today and for future generations.
Working under the model as a center for Jewish philanthropy, the Federation’s holistic efforts to fundraising paid off with increased totals to the annual campaign, Jewish Community Foundation, the Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future, Educational Income Tax Credits (EITC) and government grants.
In his own statement, Federation President and CEO Jeffrey H. Finkelstein said, the $13 million goal “speaks to the inspirational generosity of the members of our community that we’ve raised such a substantial amount of money this year through our various philanthropic vehicles.”
(Lee Chottiner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)