WINNIPEG — With less than three months to go in its 2012-2013 campaign, Winnipeg Combined Jewish Appeal has just about equalled its 2011-2012 total of $5.4 million and is just a little more than $200,000 short of its target of $5.56 million for this year.
“We’ve had 300 new donors this year [an increase of 55 from last year], from whom we raised about $100,000,” said Elaine Goldstine, the CJA’s executive director. “And we still have about 200 donors we haven’t contacted yet. I am confident that we will reach our goal and possibly surpass it.”
Goldstine added that the CJA’s Women’s Campaign has raised a record $1.3 million so far.
“We had four additional donors in the Lion of Judah category [minimum gift $5,000], which brings our total Lion of Judah donors to 80,” she said.
The ongoing yearly increases for the Winnipeg CJA campaign over the past 10 years or more reflect the growing size of the Jewish community here. It’s now estimated to be more than 17,000 people – a number that should be confirmed shortly after the 2011 census figures become available – compared to the 14,765 recorded in the 2001 census.
In the early part of the decade, several hundred Jewish immigrants from Argentina and other South American countries came to Winnipeg. In recent years, most of the continuing increase has come from Israeli families relocating here.
“Many of our newcomers have become involved in the community,” Goldstine said. “We have a very well-rounded campaign involving people from all walks of life.”
This is the first campaign since Winnipeg abandoned the two–line card. The city’s Jewish community had been the last in North America to allow CJA donors to choose how much money they wished to allocate to local needs and how much to Israel.
Goldstine said the transition has gone smoothly.
“The [Jewish] Federation [of Winnipeg’s] budget and allocations committee, when it meets in the spring, will determine how much to allocate to Israel,” she said.
This year’s campaign is being led by one of Canada’s best-known and most successful fundraisers. Gail Asper was originally supposed to chair the annual campaign last year, but the need to raise more private funding for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights intervened.
The museum was the last major project launched by her father, the late broadcasting mogul Israel Asper, who died in October 2003. Asper has continued to fundraise for the museum, which is under construction, while leading the CJA campaign.
“I have always been good at multi-tasking,” she said.
“I felt that chairing the CJA campaign would be a good way to reconnect with the community. Considering that the Asper Foundation is the largest donor and I am the foundation’s president, as chair of the campaign, I can get to know better the personnel involved in the community’s governance and fundraising and well as the beneficiary agencies.”
Asper praised the work of the CJA.
“I am very impressed by the level of transparency and scrutiny at every level,” she said. “The CJA has a crack team and is an incredibly efficient operation. It is rare to find a fundraising operation where expenses are less than 10 per cent of the funds raised.”
One of her priorities as chair, Asper said, will be growing the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg’s Leave More Than Memories Endowment Fund, which her father helped initiate in 1989. The fund, which is administered by the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba, currently has a capital base of $3 million.
“I am a huge believer in the importance of endowment funds,” Asper said. “An endowment fund is a permanent source of funding that can serve as a buffer for regular donors who leave our community or pass away.
“And the best time to build on an endowment fund is when the parent organization is financially stable. This is a perfect time in our community to work on increasing the size of our endowment fund.”