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The Challenge of “à la carte” Charitable Giving

With the advent of the Internet, information that was once limited to the store or showroom is now available to us almost anywhere: in our home, in our car or even on a walk in the park.  À la carte shopping also allows us to eliminate waste, while focusing only on what we desire most. Although charities, through their donors, have also benefited from the same information and technology advances, there are some issues that have arisen because of this new way of doing business.


As you may know, our UJA/Federation is one of 155 Jewish Federations in North America.  While we are all independent organizations, we share a common mission and affiliation that includes working partnerships with our primary service partners, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency For Israel. Jewish Federations also assume central planning and fundraising roles within our own local communities, so that when disaster strikes at home, as it did in Oklahoma, our existing international resource base becomes instantly available to all our families, friends and neighbors.  This is a system that can’t be created “on demand” and it can’t be effective without ongoing support.  Donors need to understand that we can’t deliver programs without some modest infrastructure.  The metaphoric tracks need to be laid and maintained so that the train can reach its destination.


It is also our role and responsibility to make sure that “hidden” populations that are in dire need of help, like the Jewish elderly in the Former Soviet Union, receive the attention and support of our donors.  How else would our extended family receive the help they need?  Technology emphasizes the ability to be seen and heard; our UJA/Federation and international network speak for those who can’t make themselves known.


We ask, therefore, that you take a moment and reflect on the unique value of your UJA/Federation.  Your charitable dollars are the glue and fuel that keep our system alive, and it is that system that is the safety net for Jews worldwide.  It begins at home, but it extends to the four corners of the Earth.


So, the next time you consider making an “à la carte” charitable contribution, think about “ordering the full dinner” instead.  Our annual campaign provides funds for life-saving programs as well as supporting the system that delivers the help.  Remember, you can’t “overgive” in the same way you can overeat, so please be generous.


If you have not yet made your 2014 UJA/Federation annual campaign gift, or if you feel moved to make an additional gift, you may call our office (203-226-8197), or you may make a secure donation on our website,  Of course, you can always mail your contribution to UJA/Federation, 431 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880.


Thank you for your partnership.