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Counting on Endowment

With only about 10 days to go before Shavuot, I find myself thinking a lot about… cheesecake. But I also look forward to the simplicity of preparing for this chag, as compared with the overwhelming tumult of Pesach. The fact is, the two holidays are not that far apart: the Jewish calendar has actually been moving us toward Shavuot ever since we finished singing L’Shanah Ha’baah B’Yerushalayim at the end of the second Seder when we began counting the omer.

This tradition, known in Hebrew as sefirat ha’omer, commands us to count each and every one of the 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot—literally, to announce them and bless them. As these days wind down, I’ve been reflecting on the freedom to pull back and look at the bigger Jewish picture.  Now, how does this relate to endowment and legacy giving? That’s easy.

Endowment and legacy giving takes the fundamental mantra of “make each day count” one critical step further. It presents an extraordinary opportunity to “make even the days after count.” 

Let’s be clear: you might not be able to work sefirat ha’omer into a solicitation on your first try, but give this a shot… dust off your old elevator speech, highlight the transformative power of endowment giving, and engage your prospects in a new way. Start off by asking them about their “a-ha moment”—the instant they realized the essential value and necessity of investing in a Jewish day school education. Once that emotional connection has been made, chances are the donor will feel empowered to leave a legacy. An endowment and legacy gift enables them to:

  • transmit their most cherished values and beliefs to the next generation,
  • bestow this unparalleled education upon others,
  • invest in the next generation of Jewish leaders,
  • provide for the future of these excellent academic institutions,
  • influence the Jewish community,
  • inspire others to do the same, and
  • link the history of the Jewish people with the future of the Jewish people (from one generation to the next generation… L’Dor V’Dor…which just happens to be the name of PEJE’s national endowment recognition society.  

 Now, here’s a seasonal challenge for development: When counting the omer each day (only 10 days left!) and reflecting on what is important in your life, spend a moment thinking of an additional reason why an endowment and legacy gift has the power to make our lives count for so much. You can reward yourself with a big piece of cheesecake when Shavuot arrives; it’s much tastier than Pesach sponge cake. Please share your declarations in the comments section—I’m counting on you!

 
Francine Shron carries a varied PEJE portfolio that includes program management for the endowment and legacy team.

  • http://www.bethtfiloh.org zschorr

    The concept of “make even the days after count” is the central message of the campaign, and well said.
    If all of our schools can build endowments, we will be doing what “planting for others” is all about.
    Zippy Schorr

  • Diane Scherer

    This is an excellent blog post. I look forward to sharing this with the Generations New York schools

  • francine shron

    Todah Rabah, Zippy and Diane. The work we are all doing is designed to help not only the 21 Generations schools (our collaborative program with AVI CHAI) in Los Angeles, Baltimore and New York, but the entire field by leveraging the efforts of all those involved: school leadership – professional and volunteer – donors, and our partners at the three different central agencies in the three communities. Endowment is key to the future of all our Jewish day schools.

  • http://www.bjela.org Rachel Kinkade Slaton

    An excellent piece, Francine … I know my schools here in LA are working towards embracing the language of donors as investors and that “making the ask” is really providing donors with an opportunities see their dreams for the school realized. Keep the blogs coming!

  • francine shron

    Thanks for your comment Rachel. You are right… at its best, all of philanthropy is an opportunity to convert passions into realities. Let’s hope we can do it with JDS endowment and create financial sustainability for our precious day schools for future generations.