During the past several weeks, the professional and volunteer leaders of the Allied Jewish Federation have been meeting with their counterparts at Jewish organizations and institutions across the community to assess the impact of the economy on the Denver-Boulder Jewish community.
The impact is significant. Revenues and charitable contributions are declining while requests for assistance and the costs of doing business are increasing.
At a recent meeting of the federation’s coordinating council, it approved a seven-point economic response plan:
• Demonstrating empathy for those in-need, for their community partners whose resources are not sufficient to meet the rapidly growing needs of the community, and for the donors who may be unable to maintain their past levels of giving.
• Creating an economic relief fund that would offer additional financial resources to communal organizations providing social safety net and other vital assistance to those unable to meet their basic needs.
• Delaying the Jewish Colorado Tomorrow capital and endowment campaign for up to a year to enable the participating agencies — and their donors — to focus their efforts on meeting the more immediate, increased needs created by the economic downturn.
An exception will be in Boulder, whose community will continue to raise funds to build a new JCC because its current facility is no longer able to meet the community’s needs.
• Encouraging people who are able give to make the federation’s flagship fund a priority when they make their gifts to the community’s 2009 annual campaign.
It is the flagship fund that enables federation and local communal agencies to provide social safety net and other vital assistance during “normal” times, and serves as a foundation to provide increased assistance during more challenging times like these.
• Working with communal agencies and synagogues to provide volunteer opportunities, offering people the chance to make a difference in the community. This will serve as an effective antidote to the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that can sometimes set in during times of emotional and financial distress.
• Increasing operational efficiency by reducing the federation’s full time headcount by 15% through consolidating and outsourcing jobs, eliminating non-essential programs and travel, and by engaging community partners in discussions to create additional efficiencies where appropriate.
• Reassuring the community that the federation is responding to this situation by communicating the plan.
Federation President and CEO Doug Seserman said, “The current economic environment is a situation unlike anything any of us — or the world — has experienced in our lifetimes.
“For more than 60 years, the work of federation has been to help provide social safety net and other vital assistance here in Colorado, in Israel, and around the world –– in good times, and in bad.
“Though the challenges our community is presented with are great — perhaps greater than they have ever been — the federation is trying hard to provide the leadership and resources necessary to mobilize a coordinated communal response, and to help ensure that our community’s needs are met until this situation is resolved.”