It’s that time of year when graduations are starting, dorm rooms are getting virtually decorated in the minds of students and senior parties and trips are being planned; it really is one of the single most exciting times in a person’s life. I was reminiscing about that exact experience a couple weeks with a development professional from my alma mater, Tulane (Roll Wave!). As is the case with many people my age or older, we often jest that we could not have gotten in to the particular schools we went to today if we had to apply against the current crop of students. I’d like to think I still would have made into Tulane, but it is certainly more competitive.
You probably would join me in my disgust over the college entry bribery scandal that has engulfed the news involving famous actors/actresses, business leaders and international magnates who, using nothing except their wealth, gained admittance for their kids to prestigious schools like Yale and USC. There are two things that upset me with this scandal. The first is that these kids had access to the best schools, the best tutors, the most robust life experiences of travel, culture, support, etc. and still their parents were worried about their ability to gain admission that they needed to bribe their way in. If each of these students could not have gotten into a good university with all the opportunities their lives provided, a better investment of that bribe money and tuition would have been a trust fund for kids who clearly need to be funded more than educated. Who am I kidding? They have the trust fund too!
That’s not what really got me going. What got me incensed is that some of the families, in consort with Rick Singer, paid their bribes as a “donation” to his charitable foundation, the Key Worldwide Foundation. This made the bribes tax deductible while he used those funds to bribe college athletic programs and funnel money to his own use (all allegations at this point). It besmirches reputable charities and foundations who work day in and day out to raise important funds like we do at the Federation.
A 2006 study of Jewish Federation donors who give from $1,000 - $10,000 a year showed a lot of interesting data about what donors think about the Federation. What stuck in my head through today so well is that of all the reasons people listed they gave to the Jewish Federation, the top of the list was “I trust the Jewish Federation.”
As we enter the final 30 days of our 2019 Annual Campaign, we have many donors left to connect with and seek renewed and increased support. You can follow our progress here. We’ll hear all kinds of reasons folks may not want to give from perceptions of our overhead (we are platinum rated for transparency on Guidestar, and all of our audits, 990s and allocations infographics are online), desire to support a particular agency over the collective (did you know we fund the agency you love and agencies that do the same in Israel and around the world?), or some other personal reason and legitimate reason about a bad solicitation from year’s past or an issue with a volunteer or professional staff member, etc. But there are some amazing reasons to say yes and to support us. We are more effective and efficient at raising funds than anyone, period. We involve hundreds of volunteers and volunteer hours to both raise and allocate those funds in a thoughtful way. We implement key programs that are best done by us over an agency like communal security, outreach and engagement, PJ Library, Young adult leadership development, etc.
Finally, I hope that after making a gift, you know it’s going to be put to great use for the sake of the Jewish people—here in Dallas, in Israel and in Jewish communities in need around the world. You’ll feel good knowing you can trust us with your donation. And if you need an “in” at Tulane, let me know.
PS - Want to see what else I've been saying? Check out my past articles.