Last year, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported a 34% increase in antisemitic incidences across the US, totaling 2,717—the highest number on record since the ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979. In 2021, there were 525 logged incidents at Jewish institutions, such as synagogues, Jewish community centers, and Jewish schools, a 61% increase from the year before. Antisemitic incidents are an unfortunate reality in the communities that we serve, but CCS clients have powerful tools to respond: their mission, their voice, and their network of loyal supporters. Organizations that partner with and serve Jewish communities continue to do tremendous work despite the undue prejudice they continue to face.
With over $28B donated to social and racial equity in the past two years, donors support organizations that fight hate, stand for justice, and serve vulnerable communities. While communicating with donors in times of increased incidents of hate can be a challenge, our clients play an important role in ensuring their donors feel safe, seen, and heard. Through our client partnerships during tumultuous times, CCS Fundraising has gained the following insights.
One: Stay in touch.
Reassure donors that you are meeting the moment, and share how you are addressing current societal challenges. If your organization is taking action, inform your closest partners so they can provide support. For example, if your organization will convene thought leaders, historians, and experts in the days ahead about a pertinent topic, invite donors individually, and share more about what they will gain from attending. Beyond this, just stay in touch! Check in with donors and make sure they are safe and well.
Two: Be a resource.
Your institution has worked tirelessly to build trust, and this is a time when your stakeholders will look to you for guidance, so you must be prepared to lead. You can make data-informed decisions based on research findings from ADL’s research initiatives, leverage the collective brain trust of networks like The Jewish Federations of North America for reputable and trusted resources, or work to cultivate important ideas and innovative content using jMuse’s Activating Archives, Libraries, and Museums in the Fight Against Antisemitism guide.
Three: Personalize your messaging.
Be direct, and personalize your outreach. Donors may position you as a trusted expert and resource, so consider reaching them through different platforms. Young professionals may open a text message with information faster than an email, and your board members might respond well to a personalized mailed note or email. Know how to flex your messaging to reach your desired donor base.
Four: Don’t go it alone.
Engage in thoughtful, timely, and inclusive conversations with Jewish community leaders, and do your part to ensure everyone has a voice. Specifically, amplify the voices of Jews of Color in your community who can share their perspective and experiences. For example, Keshet, an organization for LGBTQ equality in Jewish life, centers intersectional approaches in their resources and events. In times of heightened sensitivity and fear, silence is heard. Continue to communicate with donors on a regular basis; when you share information and resources, don’t include an ask or any fundraising language.
The Jewish institutions with which we partner hold immense responsibility. This sampling of insights we’ve learned only skims the surface of how we have seen our partners address this challenging time. We encourage you to find what works for your organization as you connect with your most devoted stakeholders.
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Learn how to increase investment in your organization’s planned giving program through this CCS Gift Planning Practice Group webinar.