Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fundraising when Israel is at war

My recent project, A United Jewish Appeal?, was all about the role of Israel in Jewish fundraising in Toronto. Given that Israel is now at war, I have been wondering how the current conflict will affect this year's fundraising campaigns.

A recent post on Jewlicious has offered a taste of how the conflict is already affecting fundraising, albeit largely in the United States. Many large Jewish organizations are using the conflict to add urgency to their regular campaigns, while others (such as B'nai B'rith) have set up dedicated emergency funds.

The most dramatic fundraising effort in Toronto Jewish history came in the wake of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when the Toronto United Jewish Appeal managed to raise over $26 million in its 1974 campaign. The circumstances were different from the current conflict, however. In 1973, Israel was caught off-guard and was fighting for survival. In 2014, Israel's superior military power and Iron Dome mean that its casualties are substantially lower than those in Gaza and fighting has been outside Israel's borders. Nevertheless, the fighting has generated great interest in Toronto and it will be interesting to see what effect the conflict will have on this year's UJA.