Pittsburgh’s Jewish federation has changed its name to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.
The Board of Directors of the reminted federation approved the name change last month as part of the North American Federation system’s move to create a stronger “continental identity” and to “raise greater public awareness of the enterprise’s mission to help Jews in need and strengthen the community,” according to the federation’s announcement.
The federation system may be the largest umbrella fundraising organization system in the country that doesn’t have a unified brand, much like the United Way or Salvation Army
“It gives [us] the opportunity to market easier,” said Jeffrey Finkelstein, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. “With shared branding you can share those resources in marketing.”
The new name closely resembles the Jewish Federations of North America (formerly the United Jewish Communities), which introduced its new name last November at the General Assembly.
“It’s no accident,” said Joe Berkofsky, spokesman for the North American office, of the similar names. He said his agency changed its name to pattern itself after the 90 percent of the 157 federations that have the words “Jewish Federation” in their names.
The name change is not mandatory — local federations are independent of the North American office — but Finkelstein noted that the more federations that adopt the change the easier for Jewish Americans moving from city to city to identify and affiliate with a federation.
“Young people on the move may know the federation in their home town but may move to a city where they have no idea what the federation is,” he said.
In his own case, Finkelstein said he grew up in Boston and his career took him to New York, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Each of those cities has a distinctly different name for its federation.
“Some federations probably won’t change their names because their brand name is so strong,” he added.
The new logo for the Pittsburgh federation, which is expected to be introduced by June, will be a customized version of the one for the Jewish Federations of North America, which features a circular design and menora.
The name change comes as the Federation prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2012.
“By creating a more vital Jewish Federation brand, we can better tell our incredible story of how Jewish Federations together address Jewish needs at home, in Israel and in more than 60 countries around the world,” Jerry Silverman, president and CEO, the Jewish Federations of North America, said in a prepared statement. “Our collective brand will also help position Jewish Federations to better meet the challenges of the future.”
The continental branding initiative was introduced last November at the 2009 General Assembly of The Jewish Federations of North America in Washington, D.C.
Locally, there is a cost outlay to make the name change — cover the costs of signage, stationery, etc. — but Finkelstein described the expense as minimal.
“We’re hoping out of this we can gain visibility for the federation and community,” he said, “so for a little cost we’re hoping to gain much in return.”
(Lee Chottiner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)