Home February 2012 Small Portions, Big Impact

Small Portions, Big Impact

The Jewish community – the synagogues we attend, the events we enjoy or the day schools we attended – is all a part of a beautiful networking relationship. This relationship requires resources/philanthropy (money) as well as trust, input, feedback and communication.  Just like any good relationship, with more trust and communication, there is growth.  When there is growth, there is an opportunity to show support by providing resources.
Young Jewish professionals may ask themselves, “What am I doing for the Jewish community?”  The community provides, but is not limited to: activities, emergency funds, aid to Israel, Birthright, Jewish education, subsidies, Shabbat dinners and services, counseling and religious venues…Our Jewish communal life is not free; yet we obtain many of these resources for a fraction of the actual price.  Are the Jews in the 20-40 age demographic depleting resources without attempting to replenish what we use by making philanthropic contributions?  Are we addressing the needs of the Jewish community by saying “thank you” and providing financial assistance?
E-Jewish Philanthropy, a daily online newsletter, states that the Jewish donors are giving more towards universal causes than Jewish communal ones.  The giving does not suffice to perpetuate the services that Jewish organizations provide.  These organizations need philanthropic support from all age brackets.  Young adults need to remember that donating time does not cover the costs of running electricity or feeding the hungry.
Today’s economy makes young professionals strategic and meticulous about their finances and where they place their money.  Young professionals may not be in a place to contribute large amounts of money, but we can be easily encouraged to contribute tangible amounts.  On a monthly basis, $18 turns into $216 a year; $18 amounts to two drinks during happy hour or a dinner at a local pizza shop.  These small donations aid Orange County’s Jewish organizations and are deeply needed.
Organizations can easily recognize the smaller donors who pledge and continually contribute.  Smaller donors may not cover all costs, but it is a start to a meaningful relationship.
Young Jewish adults typically need a catalyst to compel us to donate.  One easy suggestion is to request that those in a place to receive give back at some point by pledging.  Young philanthropists scrutinize and follow their dollars more than prior generations.  Previous generations did not have the same full array of donor choices that we do today.  If Birthright participants were asked to donate $20 dollars to Yad Vashem while they were attending, the likelihood increases because we can see where our money is going as we experience it.
How can organized Jewish philanthropy create that type of experience or understanding locally for people in this particular demographic?  The answer might be in advertising on Facebook or inviting us to gain experiences by inviting young professionals to walk through the process of where our donations make an impact.
The future of the community rests on young Jewish professionals’ shoulders.  Giving us rational reasons and statistics for parting with our money can be useful.  If we do not start placing a dollar amount in Jewish organizations’ pockets and continuing to strengthen our relationships with them, they will eventually deplete their resources.  This depletion threatens the incredible work they do and undermines every core Jewish value we learned as children.


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