Charity is a personal thing.
Having been involved in raising money for many worthwhile causes over the years, I know both the joy and struggle involved and the passion we have for our favourite organisations.
Many years ago, when I was a young parent, passionate about a cause, I approached JCA, along with a group of people for a loan to start a Jewish Day School in Sydney’s South East. Some thought this was a crazy venture – but we had the demographics and projected enrolments to back up our case. JCA were able to recognise that there was a need in this area and we were granted a $10,000 loan. Now, Mount Sinai College stands proudly in Maroubra, educating students who are becoming valuable members of our community.
As the President of JCA today, I wish I had the flexibility to offer funding to the many people who approach us with dynamic and exciting ideas. Unfortunately, today’s reality is different to what it was all those years ago.
Fundraising has changed since the GFC. Pre GFC, the annual donations to JCA increased steadily. After meeting the gap between what our 22 constituents had and their needs, there was money left for special projects.
Recent additional asks range from helping kids with disabilities to telling and saving the history of our community. I sit with passionate people who tell me the story of what they want to start or have already started. My communal brain asks “Is there a need for this service?” “Is there already a communal organisation that covers this need?” “Do these people have the commercial experience to put the infrastructure in place?” “Have they got the right level of governance in place?” And most of all, “What will happen to those in need if they can’t get funding?”
My heart and head say, we need to make this happen, how can we do it? But, we don’t have the money. We can’t fund these start-ups from somewhere else in the community because we are already asking other organisations to stretch their resources to the maximum.
If we had bottomless financial resources, my answer would be a resounding “yes” to all the forward-thinking ideas and programs which would strengthen and build our community. Today, our solution is to introduce these innovators to people we know have the capacity to assist or to recommend an approach to one of the JCA managed endowment funds.
What saddens me is that sometimes when we have had to say no, the people that have approached us for funding walk away upset and turn their back on JCA. Our inability to fund everything is not a personal decision by our Executive or Allocations Committee, nor should it be taken personally.
We won’t say to CSG, don’t protect their families. We won’t say to JewishCare or Montefiore, don’t support their elderly and vulnerable. We won’t say to the Jewish day schools or BJE don’t educate their kids.
That’s not the way a community – our community works.
And I ask the people who have been unsuccessful in their request for JCA support , please don’t turn your back on us. The absence of your support weakens all of the 22 constituents who are the mainstays of our community – our community suffers.
Peter Philippsohn OAM is the President of JCA. He is contactable via email.
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