The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey literally took center stage at this month’s General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.
During a Nov. 9 plenary session at the annual gathering of federation leaders at Washington’s Hilton hotel, Heart of NJ’s CEO, Keith Krivitzky, spoke of his federation’s success with an innovative campaign called “100 Days of Impact.”
He described for the 2,500 attendees how the campaign — launched in 2014 and renewed this year — used weekly themes in order to generate fund-raising and awareness momentum among staff, leaders, and the broader community
“It is not the traditional pitch of ‘Give your money to us because we give your money to everything,’” said Krivitzky, recalling his six-minute address in an interview with NJJN. “That’s how you keep the lights on and the doors open for all of our partners.” The more traditional approach is “old school,” he said. “It doesn’t work. The reason you should give to federation is because we do things and connect dots that nobody else does.”
He told GA delegates how the 100 Days campaigns “strengthened our relationships with dozens of local agencies whom we featured and promoted in these stories and who in turn promoted our message,” he said. “We developed material and messages we could use at any time, boosting our messaging year-round; and we also shared this approach with other federations, and their results have been incredible…. At least 10 communities have embarked on similar programs.”
Krivitzky’s talk — delivered during a program that also featured Jewish Agency for Israel chair Natan Sharansky and Ohio philanthropist Leslie Wexner –– was a coveted honor for a small federation.
His speech dovetailed with the overall framework of the GA, “Think Forward,” a reference to new ideas that Jewish groups may need to embrace due to shifts in Jewish demographics and funding models.
The conference conducted panels called “Fedovations” — workshop discussions of best practices and innovations at federations in the United States and Canada.
Beyond planning for the future, delegates discussed the benefits of inclusion, the need to mend rifts opened by the summer’s bitter Iran nuclear debate, and efforts to adapt to a changing Jewish community.
“What was really good about this GA is that it raised a lot of ideas about challenges the federations need to grapple with. The next generation is a big challenge and so is fund-raising — not how do we have better tactics to raise funds, but the ways in which people give and want to give are fundamentally different,” Krivitzky said.
One of his federation’s tactics is a website, 100daysofimpact.org, that tells personal stories to illustrate “how federation helps both locally and around the world.”
Recent submissions have told of a program that partnered teenagers and senior citizens, a 15-year-old’s encounter with anti-Semitism during a summer visit to Hungary, and how the federation helped arrange for the burial of a homeless Jewish man in a local cemetery.
“Storytelling is a very effective way of engaging people,” said Krivitzky. “It should be a personal story that someone can relate to and also highlights the federation’s role in making something happen.”