The Uses of a Holocaust - Fundraising

The Holocaust is major glue that binds Jews to each other and to the political and charitable fundraising that gives them power disproportionate to their numbers in the U.S.

The article reprinted below is a classic from 1983. It gives you a detailed description of how this process works.

For the 10 years after the 1967 war, fundraising for Israel was relatively easy, because of a continuing military threat. However, since the early 1980's, as enthusiasm for Israeli policies has waned within the Jewish community, the "Holocaust" has become more important in Jewish fundraising.

You will note the particular importance of Yad v' Shem, a monument/museum to the Holocaust in Israel, in the decision of one major donor.

You will note that "Hate Crime" laws, and aggressive prosecution and press reporting of these events (however rare statistically) are equally important.

Indeed, the publicly accepted characterization of the activities occurring in this newsgroup also plays a role.

As mentioned in the article, all of these things create a siege mentality - one in which suggestions of "persecution and attack" resonate:

Power and money flow from the memory of the "Holocaust".

Somehow, mass deportations, and even mass shootings don't resonate in quite the same way as "homicidal gas chambers."

Follow the money flows and you will arrive at the truth!



[Apr. 1, 1983 Wall Street Journal p1 c1]

Anguished Appeal Jewish Charities Raise Huge Sums in the U.S., But Resistance Grows

Some Big Givers Quit Giving Because of Israel Policies; How the Solicitors Work

Pressure at a Country Club


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Rising Doubts

Since the war in Lebanon last summer, Mr. Fisher and some other American Jews have increasingly questioned the wisdom and practicality of some Israeli actions. The trend has hampered fund-raisers, whose activities have traditionally been a central part of Jewish life. And although the United Jewish Appeal, an umbrella organization for a number of Jewish charitable projects domestically and abroad, continues to be envied by other charities for its effectiveness, the group can no longer expect simply to ask for money and get it.

Beginning after the Six Day War in 1967 and for nearly a decade afterwards, the danger Israel faced in battle provided much of the emotional impetus for a wave of lavish philanthropy among U.S. Jews. But beginning in the mid-1970s, relations between the U.S. and Israel cooled perceptibly, and U.S. Jews were put in the sometimes uncomfortable spot of being at odds with Israeli or U.S. policy while being asked to shoulder the increasing financial burden of the tiny Jewish state.

Still, the totals raised keep going up, even as the anguish grows.

Last year, the UJA received pledges for near-record contributions of about $567 million, up from $542 million in 1981. More than half the money collected goes to Israel, providing a major portion of that country's social-welfare budget. A much smaller amount is channeled to Jewish communities in other foreign countries. Slightly less than half goes to Jewish educational, social-welfare and community groups in the U.S. Contributions Heavy

The UJA's annual budget is about a third the size of the nationwide United Way's even though the Jewish population in this country amounts to less than 3% of the total population. The UJA raises more each year than the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Muscular Dystrophy Association, March of Dimes and National Easter Seal Society combined.

But for Jews, the needs of their less fortunate people are only one reason for giving. Underlying a traditional altruism rooted in religion, community leaders and fund-raising professionals agree, are deep-seated emotions: Jewish pride for Israel: fear that American Jews could become a target for anti-Semites; and the horror and guilt associated with the Holocaust, when most Jews here stood by helplessly.

"Jews today have an opportunity to control their destiny (through fund raising)," says Robert Slavitt, a Washington, D.C., investment banker active in that city's Jewish Federation and annual UJA fund-raising drive. "Jews now live in a free country. All of us haven't had that."

Once Inactive

Of course, not all U.S. Jews view themselves precisely from that historical perspective. At one time, even the well-to-do Mr. Slavitt would give $1,000 each year to the UJA but never volunteered to work and had little idea how the money was used. Three years ago, a high-school chum asked Mr. Slavitt to join a week-long "discovery mission" to Israel; on an impulse, Mr. Slavitt agreed to go. With 16 other prosperous Jewish men from the Washington area, Mr. Slavitt toured biblical sites, attended briefings by army generals and cabinet ministers and visited orphanages and community centers aided by UJA money.

For Mr. Slavitt, the highlight of the trip was Yad v' Shem, a windswept monument in the hills of Jerusalem dedicated to the Jews who perished in Hitler's death camps. There he noticed a small, wooden menorah, a ritual candle holder that had been made by a doomed inmate.

Since that trip, lighting the Sabbath candles has become a Friday night ritual at the Slavitt home. In the past three years, moreover, Mr. Slavitt has journeyed six more times to Israel, has steadily increased his family's UJA contribution to $21,000 annually and has raised a great deal of money for the group each year by soliciting about 25 donations ranging from $500 to $25,000.

Instead of relying on mass appeals for small donations from many people-as does the United Way, whose average annual contribution is about $10-the UJA concentrates on the relative few who give more than $10,000 and sometimes up to $1 million or more annually. A UJA survey showed that only about 1.5% of those who give do so in amounts exceeding $10,000 but that their donations constitute 50% to 60% of the annual total.

As a result, however, the loss of even a few major contributors could derail a fundraising drive.

So, UJA fund-raisers acted quickly after last summer's invasion of Lebanon-with more vigorous solicitations, guided tours of captured Lebanese territory for UJA leaders and contributors and more speeches to UJA gatherings in the U.S. by Israeli notables.

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"Avoid controversial topics," advised a training film shown to volunteers before they began their calls. "And remember, our contributions aren't going to the Israeli government. This is a campaign of people helping people." More than 1,500 volunteers turned out that day to call about 50,000 of the city's 180,000 Jews.

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Shift in Techniques

In recent years, UJA fund raisers have begun using such telethons, direct mailings, walk-a-thons and the like to reach a greater number of less affluent Jews. But these methods still collect relatively little cash compared with the sums raised by direct, face-to-face requests put to well-to-do prospects. In Washington, for example, the telethon's $1.7 million accounts for only about 10% of the 1983 goal of $16.6 million for the city. Some 80% of the total will come from about 8% of the capital's Jewish population, UJA leaders say.

As fund-raising techniques go, direct solicitation probably is the most difficult as well as the most productive. "When I first got active, the only thing I said I wouldn't do is solicit," Mr. Slavitt says. "I now realize how important it is." For years, Mr. Fisher solicited peers in the Boston academic community until his recent decision to suspend UJA work, but he confesses that he never liked doing it.

"People are afraid of face-to-face because it is something in which they can be confronted directly with failure," says Aryeh Nesher, the UJA's head of training.

How It's Done

Applying principles of sales psychology to fund raising, Mr Nesher teaches solicitors first to educate Prospects about the "product," the financial needs of the Jewish community and Israel. Such a Pitch frequently deals with such emotion-packed topics as Holocaust survival, terrorist attacks and antisemitism- The solicitor, in effect, tries to make the prospect identify with these topics as a member of the Jewish community. And how, the solicitor then asks, can this community be strengthened against persecution and attack? The answer: by giving money to Jewish institutions. "I call this educational process Jewish spiritual circumcision," Mr. Nesher says.

In local Jewish federations around the country, volunteer UJA fund-raisers study Dun & Bradstreet credit reports, deed transfers and corporate proxies to figure out the net worth of wealthy Jews in their community. In the course of their research, volunteers are encouraged to discuss what they know about the finances of neighbors friends and colleagues. A physician who gives might be expected to help assess the finances of other physicians.

"There are three kinds of doctors," Mr. Nesher says. "Those who make less than $250,000, those who make $100,000 and those who make less than $50,000, and they all know which is which."

Psychic Rewards

Big donors are often lionized with awards at UJA dinners, named committee chairmen and written up in local Jewish newspapers. "People also want the ego gratification that goes with this activity," a UJA employee says.

Those declining to give, on the other hand, could face problems, particularly if they are prosperous. At Pittsburgh's heavily Jewish Westmoreland Country Club, philanthropy is expected. "If a nongiver wants to join, someone will mention, in a nice way of course, that behaving responsibly means remembering Jewish philanthropies," a member says. An influential lawyer active in several charities favors tougher methods, including ostracism, if friendly persuasion doesn't work. "I wouldn't walk across the street to shake the hand of someone who won't give," he says.

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