Q&A: Campus 2020 campaign


Campus 2020 Advisory Board members and Federation leaders met March 27 on the Maitland Jewish Community Campus. From left: Dick Appelbaum, Ron Shader, Dottie Appelbaum, Mardi Shader, Olga Yorish, Dr. Ed Zissman, Allan Goldberg, Michael Soll, Rhonda Forest and Joe Hara.

Debt-retirement campaign has component to benefit local Jewish agencies

Second of two parts

Launched in March, the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando's Campus 2020 campaign has raised more than $1 million in pledges and matching funds that will go toward eliminating the $4.5 million in debt carried by the Maitland Jewish Community Campus, which is owned and managed by the Federation.

In part one of this two-part series, Campus 2020 campaign Chairman Michael Soll, vice president and immediate past president of the Federation's Board of Directors, spoke about the genesis of the debt and the ramifications of the debt for the Federation and the agencies that call the Maitland campus home. In part two, Soll talks about the $1 million-plus in matching gifts that are part of Campus 2020 and discusses some of the ways the larger Greater Orlando Jewish community will benefit directly from a debt-free Maitland campus-and from the campaign itself.

Q: For the Campus 2020 campaign, Federation has partnered with two local organizations that are offering sizeable matching funds. Can you go into more detail about these partnerships and how the matching funds come into play?

A: I can't overstate the importance of the participation of the Harris Rosen Foundation and the Jewish Capital Alliance. Their generosity moved the finish line much closer before we even kicked off the campaign. While we're dealing with an overall Maitland campus debt in excess of $4.5 million, when you factor in the regularly scheduled debt payments and the Rosen and JCA matching funds, we need to raise and collect pledges of about $2.3 million in order to be debt-free by 2020. The Rosen Foundation and JCA have helped us turn a daunting goal into an attainable one.

Back in 2014 the Rosen Foundation helped us knock $500,000 off the debt immediately with the sale of the South Orlando campus. As part of that agreement, the Rosen Foundation is providing $1 million in matching grants for Campus 2020. It's a dollar-for-dollar match for all single cash donations, from $1 all the way up to $1 million, until the grant is exhausted, or through the end of 2018.

The Jewish Capital Alliance (JCA) has pledged $300,000 in matching grants at 60 cents on the dollar for gifts of $1,000 to $30,000. But the JCA match comes with an added bonus that will potentially benefit every Jewish agency in Orlando: For each Campus 2020 dollar that qualifies for the JCA match, JCA will not only pay the 60-cent match to Campus 2020, but also will provide a 20-cent matching gift directly to any qualifying agency or organization that the donor designates. For example, if a donor gives $10,000 to Campus 2020 and designates Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando to receive a matching gift, JCA will give $6,000 to Campus 2020 and $2,000 directly to JFS Orlando.

Q: Does a Campus 2020 donor have to choose between the Rosen and JCA matching gifts?

A: Not at all. Assuming the donation meets the aforementioned criteria, it qualifies for all three gifts. The $10,000 gift I used as an example becomes $26,000 for Campus 2020, factoring in the Rosen and JCA matches, and $2,000 for JFS Orlando. So our campus and our community see a total benefit of $28,000 from a single $10,000 gift. It's a terrific way for Federation to address our campus needs while making sure that community agencies share the benefits as well.

Q: Who are some of the other people behind Campus 2020, and what are their roles?

For the early planning and major-gifts phases of Campus 2020, we were very fortunate to enlist the guidance of some of our Jewish community's most stalwart supporters, and they comprise our Campus 2020 Advisory Board: Dick and Dottie Appelbaum; Neal Crasnow and Dr. Susan Drukman; Allan and Diane Goldberg; Joe and Anita Hara; Mark and Caryn Israel; Julian and Sheryl Meitin; Ron and Mardi Shader; and Dr. Edward and Phyllis Zissman. This is a winning team in every sense of the word. They've shown incredible energy-and generosity-during the early phase of Campus 2020, and they deserve the lion's share of the credit for our early fundraising success. We're extremely grateful for very generous gifts from Advisory Board members, several Jewish Academy of Orlando parents and other key donors. Thanks to them, the campaign is off to a strong start.

Federation staff is heavily involved in the campaign as well. We're committed to keeping campaign overhead costs as low as possible. So virtually all of the Campus 2020 promotional materials have been, and will continue to be, produced in-house. Campaigns of this magnitude traditionally bring with them thousands of dollars in expenses to produce marketing collateral and the like. We all agreed that spending that kind of money on a debt-retirement campaign seemed counter-intuitive, so we made a concerted effort to be resourceful, using the talents of our Federation staff instead of opening the Federation checkbook. We believe we have a strong message that our community will embrace, so we've kept the "window dressing" to a minimum. The Federation takes its fiduciary responsibilities very seriously, and this is yet another example of our commitment to leveraging our existing talent and resources rather than throwing money at a problem.

Q: As you continue in the major-gifts phase of the campaign, are you doing anything special to acknowledge your donors?

A: Absolutely. We felt it would be fitting to honor our top donors by beautifying the Maitland campus itself. Three tree groves will be added to open spaces on the campus, with individually named trees in three donor categories: Live Oaks will be planted and named for donors who contribute $25,000 and above; Southern Magnolias for donors giving $10,000 to $24,999; and Crepe Myrtles for donors giving $5,000 to $9,999. This incentive has been very successful so far, and we look forward to honoring those who have invested in our campus by creating a living tribute so future generations will know about their generosity.

Q: Thousands of people use the Maitland campus. What kinds of benefits will they see after the debt is retired? And what about those who aren't regular visitors to the campus? What vested interest do they have in being part of this debt retirement campaign?

A: Simply put, it's a matter of innovation vs. stagnation. The debt burden has, frankly, contributed to a sense of malaise on campus, and that affects our ability to serve the wider community. Servicing the debt consumes financial resources that could be used to pay for needed upgrades to modernize our facilities. Our reserve funds are stretched as the physical property deteriorates.

For the wider community, there is a definite ripple effect caused by the debt burden. Every person in Central Florida who's in some way involved in the Jewish community has a vested interest in seeing this debt retired early. The debt doesn't just represent a number on a balance sheet, and the debt doesn't only affect life here on the Maitland campus.

For example, the cost of carrying the debt has limited the resources that can be released into the community in the form of Federation grants and other allocations. As we reclaim the time and resources we currently devote to shoring up stressed finances, the volunteers and staff from all campus agencies will be freed up to serve, create and innovate. The prospect of Federation and other campus agencies being able to lift this specter of uncertainty and fully invest in our community and in our respective missions is helping to fuel this campaign. That's the ultimate payoff.

Every dollar that now goes toward the debt can instead be used to provide assistance to some of our underserved constituents, like the elderly. Every hour consumed with the additional fundraising required just to maintain current programming can be better spent on outreach, on creating new engagement opportunities, on fostering volunteerism.

Eliminating this debt will bring our community closer. This is the Orlando Jewish future that all of our agencies strive for, and it's absolutely within our reach.

You can read more about the Campus 2020 campaign at http://www.jfgo.org/2020.


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