With JCA set to hold its first major communal fundraising event since before the pandemic later this month, president Ian Sandler told The AJN it is an “opportunity to reconnect and re-engage”.
“It is about getting community together to celebrate our successes and coming through COVID in one piece,” he said.
“That’s the beauty of JCA. Our balance sheet helped the community get through [the pandemic], we had enough financial cover and services to make sure that the people in need were taken care of.
“So it’s time to get together and say we’re here with a stronger community. We need a reason to celebrate.”
The event will showcase the five sectors supported by JCA: Jewish Education; Culture; Engagement & Outreach; Aged & Community Care; Holocaust, History & Heritage; and Security & Advocacy.
Attendees can choose which is of most interest and attend a TED-like talk and panel discussion on the subject.
“We are just trying to showcase what we really do,” Sandler said.
For the first time, JCA’s constituent organisations will have stalls at the event, similar to a trade show.
“You can walk around and ask questions, there’s dinner, there’s buskers, there’s a giant puzzle we’re putting together with 1000 pieces to represent the community,” he said.
“So it’s going to be a real celebration of getting together.”
This year’s fundraising target is $15.8 million, following 2022’s best-ever result of $14.3 million.
“Hopefully the communal event will have that effect of bringing donors that we’ve lost contact with over the last couple of years back into the fold,” Sandler said.
“And if their average donation is consistent with what we have achieved in the past we’ll close the gaps.
“The asks are going to get bigger,” he added, citing increased demand for fee assistance and special needs assistance at schools and the increased need for mental health support coming out of COVID as two examples.
Another example Sandler provided at JCA’s recent Major Donor Dinner was in aged care, where costs have increased along with changes in regulation and compliance. Across JCA’s constituents, the need to offer competitive remuneration “to keep our best people” is also putting stresses on budgets, he said.
“On the other side there are new organisations out there that are relevant to the community and we need to raise more money so we can bring them in under the umbrella,” Sandler said.
He said a lot of these organisations “engage a different audience”, including the younger demographic. “We need to make sure we engage them and bring them through the pipeline so they become supporters and donors in the community,” he explained.
He said Stand Up, who joined the JCA family last year, was a perfect example of an organisation with a “touchpoint” in that demographic.
“So we’re looking to make ourselves more relevant. That doesn’t mean we’re not relevant today, but we need to make sure we are relevant going into the future.”
Extolling the virtues of traditional JCA organisations such as the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD) and Community Security Group (CSG), Sandler quipped that he often says “if you’re fundraising in a crisis, it’s easy to raise money”.
But he said, “We don’t have crises because of them [JBD and CSG]. People are working in the background to make sure it doesn’t happen. They do jobs that people can’t see.
“If the money’s not there, those two organisations stop. Living in Sydney tomorrow would be very different.”
Sandler also addressed JCA’s 2050 strategic vision, the report for which “will hopefully be done by the end of this year”.
Using JCA’s census analyses and computing various trends, the organisation is looking to map out what NSW Jewry will look like in 2050 in order to best leverage the community’s assets, enable JCA to spend money in the right places and anticipate communal needs.
“So this is what the capital needs are going to be, this is what operational needs are going to be, and how are we going to fund it,” he explained.
He said supporting JCA is not just up to major donors.
“The major donors want to see that the community appreciates what we’ve got. They’re happy to fund it if there’s a little bit of partnership,” he said.
“Even a $100 donation shows commitment and interest … that you appreciate what the community provides for you.
“It’s up to all of us. And it’s not just about the quantum of the donation. It’s about showing up, putting your hand up, saying I do care about this. And it all goes towards making a difference.”
JCA’s campaign event is on Sunday, May 28. Book: events.humanitix.com/jca2023