The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh will decrease allocations to several of its beneficiary agencies and international partners, including the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
The decision to reduce allocations — following a year-long planning process in which volunteers and staff considered competing communal needs — was made with an eye to changes in fundraising, said Adam Hertzman, the Federation’s director of marketing.
“One of the most important discussions that came out of our planning and funding committee that does the allocations is a recognition that the Jewish Federation has really arrived at a point where the community campaign is only one part of the funding that is provided to Jewish organizations,” he explained. “It’s a super important part, especially because for our core beneficiary agencies those are unrestricted dollars and that provides important flexibility for our beneficiary agencies — but that is one part of the funding.
“At this point it doesn’t represent the majority of dollars,” Hertzman added. “It’s the largest single piece of it, but it’s not the majority anymore.”
The annual campaign, which is slated to close on June 30, has raised more than $13 million dollars. Nonetheless, the Federation has estimated the sum will be $200,000 less than last year’s total.
“Our conservative estimate is that the community campaign will be down slightly. Obviously that results in some challenging funding decisions,” said Hertzman. “One that was fairly straightforward, because we’ve been talking about it for a while, is to bring the Jewish Federation more in line with the national average for funding our overseas partners JAFI and JDC.”
Despite the decreases, the Federation will deliver almost $28 million in allocations and grants to programs and agencies domestically and abroad in the next fiscal year.
“It used to be that the Jewish Federation raised money for the community campaign, then allocated it, and then that’s it. Today more than ever, private giving leverages corporate, foundation and government dollars so we raise a little over $13 million in the campaign, but give out more than double that,” said Hertzman. “That’s the really most compelling reason to give to the Jewish Federation.”
Those locally affected by the allocation decisions include the umbrella organization’s nine beneficiary agencies: The Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center; Community Day School; Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh; Jewish Association on Aging; Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh; Jewish Family and Community Services; Jewish Residential Services; Riverview Towers and Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh.
“Though most of the Federation’s beneficiary agencies will receive a 2 percent cut, organizations that address health and human services will not lose any funding,” according to a statement from the Federation.
Regarding the Jewish day schools, they “are going to see a small decrease in funding from the community campaign, but they are going to get more money than they ever have before this year,” because of “record fundraising” as part of Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program,” said Hertzman. The EITC initiative provides “tax credits to eligible businesses contributing to a scholarship organization, an educational improvement organization, and/or a pre-kindergarten scholarship organization.”
In 2016, EITC enabled 515 children to receive K-12 scholarships at the Jewish day schools and another 234 children to receive preschool scholarships.
Similarly, said Hertzman, while EITC has benefitted the day schools immensely, “you have to ask yourself, are there sources of government money that we haven’t gone after in the past that have the potential to fund priorities that we previously haven’t been able to fund?”
“As the needs in the community change year to year, so do giving trends,” echoed Meryl Ainsman, chair of the Federation’s board of directors, in a statement. “By leveraging corporate, foundation and government dollars, the Jewish Federation is able to keep up with those changing needs and help here in Pittsburgh, in Israel and in communities around the world.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at email@example.com.