The Future of Federation

Every spring, our focus at the Federation is setting our annual budget and planning for the future.  The Federation’s priorities remain constant. We Serve Those in Need through a variety of social services, including the work of our community social worker and chaplains.  We Enrich Jewish Life with our focus on families with young children through our PJ Library in Howard County program.  We Build Community through programs such as Purim Palooza, Yom Hashoah, Good Deeds Day, and our newest program coming May 5 – an Israel Film Festival. And we Strengthen Global Peoplehood by bringing Israel to Howard County through our shaliach (Israeli emissary) program.

Besides these constant priorities, Federation continues to develop new approaches and channels to meet the needs of the community.

One way we are trying to better understand our community is through a community survey. Thank you to everyone who has completed the Community Study survey being fielded by The Cohen Center at Brandeis University.  If you have received an invitation to participate and haven’t yet responded, please do so.  The results from this survey will help us plan for the future of Federation by giving us a better understanding of our community’s demographics.

Federation also continues to focus on broader community efforts.  When tragedy strikes or local acts of anti-Semitism occur, many in the Jewish community look to the Federation, the Howard County Board of Rabbis, and local synagogues to “take a stand” or “make a statement.”  Many of us count on these community voices to ensure that our rightful liberties are not infringed upon. Your support of Federation allows us to maintain those key relationships that empower us to respond as one community in a time of need.

Our Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) has spent this past year identifying and responding to important issues facing Howard County.  They have already made a difference influencing the Howard County School Board’s response to anti-Semitism and bullying, encouraging some curriculum changes, and preserving the observance of the High Holy days in the school calendar.  In addition, our Federation staff engages regularly with our local rabbis on key topics.

But to maintain these efforts and programs, we need your help. If you want to see the Federation continue to serve our community, please donate now.  To ensure our budget for next year can be met, we must reach our goal of $600,000 by June 30.   Our annual campaign has been flat and if we are not able to grow it, we will not be able to do as much for the community going forward.

As we close our 2019 campaign, we are about $50,000 behind our goal.  Much of this is reflective of current donors not having made a pledge or gift yet this year.  Here are a few facts about our Federation donor population: We have approximately 700 donors out of a Jewish population of over 20,000. The average annual gift is just under $1,000, and the vast majority of our donors are synagogue members. Our donor base is aging, with many retiring and/or moving away. It takes 10 new donors at $180 each to replace one long-standing donor of $1,800 who has retired and moved away.   

While our staff and volunteers are calling donors, I urge you not to wait to be contacted. If there are particular programs or areas of focus that are important to you, consider making a directed donation.  We also continue to need unrestricted gifts to support the wide array of services our staff provides. There are many ways to give to the Federation:  You can make a pledge and pay over time.  You can make an outright gift at any time.  You can donate appreciated stock.  You can endow your gift.  During May and June, we will be hosting a series of small informal gatherings to share information about how you can donate through various tax advantaged strategies. 

This is my last monthly message as President.  After serving in this role for three years, I am proud of the significant progress we have made at the Federation.  We have increased our social service delivery, made significant organizational and operational changes to strengthen the organization, created new committees, and launched new programs.  I am also excited about our incoming President, Rachael Simon.  Rachel has been on the Federation board for many years, serving most recently as our Executive Vice President and previously as our Vice President of Programming.  She has served as Chair of our young adult oxyGEN committee and was part of our inaugural jLeads leadership class.  Rachael will bring vision and experience to this role, and we are lucky to have her serve as our incoming President.

The board is already exploring various options to enable us to continue to serve our community. Please attend our Annual Meeting on June 25 at the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center to hear more about what we’ve accomplished this year and how we are planning for the future.