I have some of my best — and sometimes most challenging — conversations in the grocery store. Last week, a generous supporter of our Federation approached me as I was marveling at the ice creams made from everything but actual milk. She thoughtfully thanked me for my commitment to our Jewish community and asked, “What’s the hardest part of your job?”
A lot of things ran through my mind, but before I could answer, she asked a series of rapid-fire questions all connected to fundraising: “Is it hard asking people for money?” “Is it the competition from the hundreds of organizations competing for the same dollars?” “Do you feel rejected when they say no?”
When she saw my smile grow, she stopped asking questions. “First, we are not a fundraising organization,” I told her. “Over the past decade, we transformed our Federation into the one organization in our community that identifies our greatest challenges and our greatest opportunities. We do so successfully with impact and tangible results. We’ve taken on the responsibility for community security here, and resiliency and trauma training and services in Israel. We created NuRoots — an initiative that engages thousands of young people across the city — and we help almost 14,000 young families receive a new Jewish book at their doorstep every month. I could go on!
“We raise money to do this extraordinary work, and when we have the opportunity to tell our story, the asking is the easiest part of my job. There is no other Jewish organization that impacts tens of thousands of Jews in our community, in Israel, and around the world,” I said.
“Then what is the hardest part of the job?” she asked.
“It’s June. We do not take a vacation, but most of our donors do. In June, my greatest challenge is motivating our generous donors not to wait until the end of the year and instead to pay their pledges now,” I answered.
Her smile grew. “I guess I am one of those people. I know what I am going to do after I unpack my groceries.”
President & CEO