Column: Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta campaign raises $15.35 million

By Maria Saporta
Friday, July 9, 2010

The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta considers its 2010 campaign a victory.

The organization raised $15.35 million in its campaign that began last fall and ended June 30 — a decrease of less than 2 percent from the previous year.

The funds raised by the Jewish Federation are distributed to 14 affiliate agencies and five initiatives that include 50 community organizations in Atlanta and internationally.

By comparison, the 2009 campaign raised $15.6 million. Because of the economic difficulties, the federation has seen decreases in its campaign for the past three years. In 2007, it was able to raise $18.2 million; and in 2008, it raised $17.94 million. The drop in donations meant the federation had to reduce its workforce a year ago.

“We are focusing on the positive of this year’s results,” said Steven Rakitt, president and CEO of the federation. “We had 1,500 brand-new gifts. In certain cases, because of the economy, certain major donors are continuing to have some difficulties.”

In all, the federation has about 8,000 annual donors, but there’s always some attrition. But Rakitt is optimistic that the 2011 campaign that begins in September will show even better results.

Robert Arogeti, a partner with accounting firm Habif, Arogeti & Wynne LLP, just became the new chairman of the federation, succeeding Carol Zaban Cooper, the daughter of the late Erwin Zaban, one of Atlanta’s top business leaders.

Arogeti said that the good news about the 2011 campaign is that the 2010 leadership asked to continue their roles for another year under the leadership of Joel Marks, vice chairman and chief operating officer of Advanced Equities Financial Corp.

Part of the reason Marks decided to stay on was because the federation is working on one-to-one relationships with its donors, and he wanted to continue working on that effort.

“Our goal is to speak to every donor and give them the case for contributing; we believe it’s a compelling case,” Rakitt said. “We are working very hard at seeing people face-to-face.”

Arogeti said that by refocusing the federation’s efforts on personal solicitation, it reinforces the long-term partnership between the organization and the community.

“A federation campaign is not a one-time solicitation,” Arogeti said.

In response to donors’ interests, Arogeti said, the organization is emphasizing not only how much money it raises, but on how effectively it spends it.

So this past spring, the federation’s board adopted a policy to move toward “an outcome-based” allocation process, Rakitt said.

“What that means is that over a three-year period, we are moving more toward the identification of outcomes with measurable results,” Rakitt said. “That’s in direct response to donors wanting to know more about what their money is doing.”

Because the campaign was 2 percent less than last year, the federation decided to reduce its allocations to all of its partner agencies by 2 percent.

“They were very understanding and responsive to it,” Arogeti said of the agencies’ reaction.

For his two years as chairman, Arogeti said that one of his top priorities will be on helping develop the next generation of leaders.

“Who will be dedicated to a lifelong commitment to the Jewish community?” Arogeti asked rhetorically.

It is estimated that there are 120,000 Jews living in metro Atlanta’s 20-plus counties.

Supporting mental health

The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta has given Creative Community Services a two-year grant totaling $90,000. Creative Community Services helps meet the needs of children in foster care that have mental health needs as well as children and adults with developmental difficulties.

“CCS has been keeping children and adults with mental health needs and developmental disabilities out of institutions and in homes with families, where they belong, for 27 years,” said Sally Buchanan, CCS founder and executive director, in a statement. “Ongoing state and federal funding cuts are threatening the availability of these services in the community, but with a long history of partnership and resource sharing, CCS is well-positioned to continue to meet the needs of these individuals.”

Helping women veterans

The Atlanta Center for Self-Sufficiency has just been awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to implement a “Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program for Female Veterans and Veterans with Families.”

The center is the result of a recent merger between the Samaritan House and the Atlanta Enterprise Center.

Charles Edwards, president and CEO of the Atlanta Center for Self-Sufficiency (ACSS), said the organization is the only one in Georgia to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The award is for $261,800 annually. The initial grant period is between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011. ACSS and the U.S. Department of Labor will have the opportunity to renew the grant for an additional two years.

“We need to get the word out to begin recruiting eligible participants — especially women who have served in Iran, Iraq, or Afghanistan,” Edwards wrote in an e-mail.

Top VC

Tom Smith, co-founder and managing partner of Total Technology Ventures LLC, has been ranked as one of the top 50 venture capitalists on the East Coast by the AlwaysOn news organization.

The first annual awards highlighted the most profitable winners during the last four years. TTV partner Gardiner Garrard said he believed that Smith was the only person from Atlanta to be recognized.

Smith was the highest-ranking IBM Corp. executive in Atlanta for most of the 1980s and 1990s. As an IBM vice president and the Southeast general manager for the company, Smith was instrumental in IBM’s sponsorship of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Smith also chaired both Atlanta’s United Way campaign and the United Way board during his tenure at IBM.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

What are your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.