Youth take charge

By Corey Omer and Jason Paperman
Co-chairs YAD FedNext Campaign 2011

There is little doubt that our community recognizes the importance of supporting, and investing in, “our” generation. The sheer number of programs and services supported by Federation CJA and its family of agencies that target teens and young adults is telling: these include FedNext Campaign and Outreach, Birthright, Hillel, March of the Living, the Jewish day schools, Camp B’nai Brith and Ometz Career Placement Services, to name but a few. The total investment is inspiring.

Our Campaign, however, is about turning the tables and asking members of our generation to step up and begin the transition from takers to givers, from the beneficiaries to the trustees of our community. It is about taking ownership, recognizing the importance of sowing where we have reaped and making a pledge to the next generation that they will benefit from a similar, if not greater, investment. The reality is simple: our generation is the future of the Montreal Jewish community. If we don’t take care of it, eventually there will be no one left who will.

During our first planning meetings, we agreed that one of our primary goals for this year’s YAD FedNext Campaign will be to engage and attract new donors in our age group. We want to reach out to people who have never given and in one way or another – whether through a phone call on Super Sunday or a donation incorporated into the cost of participating at a YAD FedNext event – get them involved in and committed to community. Our goal is to educate our donors on the importance of giving and to convey to them, in concrete terms, the difference their gifts are making. We want them to know that their dollars are paying for meals at Le Café, for their peers’ experiences on Birthright and for their bunkmates’ amazing summers at CBB. We believe that through engagement and information, we can foster both a sense of ownership in our community and pride in contributing to its continuity.

We have put a lot of effort into ensuring that a community message is conveyed to participants at our events. When it came to planning our Back to School Party, we, along with our newly-established FedNext Executive, agreed that while it was great to have 400 young Jewish people making social connections and coming together for a CJA FedNext event, our impact could be much greater. The realization that, at the most basic level, the evening should be about our age group coming out to openly support our community was the primary motivating factor behind transforming the Back to School Party into the YAD FedNext Campaign Launch Gala. Everyone who attended the Gala knew what organization they were there for, and the new format allowed us to incorporate increased messaging and education into the program. The results have been extremely positive – beyond the increase in funds raised and the many new gifts, we have been getting messages from many people who attended the Gala, were inspired to learn more about Federation CJA and now want to get involved and play a role in YAD FedNext.

When the Campaign closes in November, if we can look back at our experience as YAD FedNext Campaign Co-chairs and find leaders who have been inspired or re-inspired, committed volunteers who understand and care more than they did three months prior and a growing cohort of informed donors who have begun taking ownership in our community, then we will feel that we have been successful. Moreover, we know that our Campaign does not stand in isolation and so, even more important than our immediate successes, is seeing where next year’s YAD FedNext Campaign team will go and how they will build upon and learn from our work and experiences.

The investment in our generation has been, and continues, to be made. To our friends, colleagues and peers – let’s ensure that there can be no finer or safer a venture.

We welcome your feedback and invite your comments.

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