This morning, the entire Federation staff had a mandatory staff meeting to go over Super Sunday and how everything is going to work, and during the meeting, a really cool thing happened.
After we had talked about logistics like parking and pledge cards and lunch (we’re Jews, lunch is a big deal. Dinner is an even bigger deal), certain members of the staff stood up to say why they give to the Federation. One by one, people stood up and named their 2008 gift, repeating the same thing over and over again. “We do good work here. We do important work here.” But that’s not the thing that was so cool.
The first few people who stood up had been pre-selected. But after they were done speaking, others raised their hands to talk. These were people who weren’t pre-selected. Some of them had only been working here a few months. Some of them weren’t Jewish. They were just people who were moved by their colleagues’ stories.
One woman, who works in the division that sends kids to Israel on Birthright trips, stood up. She reminded everyone that it costs $500 to send someone to Israel. On the spot, she raised her pledge from $50 to $500. Because of her, a teenager will get to see Israel for the first time.
Someone else stood up and talked about how he and his wife give money to many different charities. Then he told us that out of all those charities, he doesn’t believe in a single one as much as he believes in the Federation, because he's here every day, seeing what the money we raise does within the community. For 2008, he told us, he is only giving money to the Federation. He raised his $100 pledge to $1000 on the spot.
I was just sitting there, eating my bagel, and I couldn’t believe what was happening. I am a firm believer in leading by example, and this is a perfect example of that. I know some people might think this is weird or tacky or embarrassing, to talk about how much you give in such a public way, but I prefer to look at it as inspirational.
These people heard what others had to say, and they took it upon themselves to make it personal and give as much as they could. This year, I plan on raising my pledge, and giving $350 to the Federation.
It’s really important to me that my friends know that I don’t consider what I do just a job. I really believe in the work we do at the Federation, and when I encourage my friends to donate, I want them to know that I’m doing it too. I know we’re mostly all just out of school and working hard and trying to pay bills and save money. But the great thing about the Federation is that they don’t ask you for any specific amount – it’s all about what you can afford and what you feel comfortable giving. For some of us, that’s $18 bucks, for others, maybe $100.
The point is, it doesn’t matter how much you give. It only matters that you are giving. I was really proud to work at the Federation today, and I know I will be even prouder on Sunday when I see almost 2,000 members of the Jewish community come out to give alongside me.