The federation system has raised billions of dollars since its inception. More than just a charitable gift, the Annual Campaign fulfills the Jewish obligation of communal tzedakahand is the centerpiece of the federation fundraising effort; it provides unrestricted, general support monies to the communities. However, while Jews give generously to religious, secular and political causes, fewer are contributing to the federation's Annual Campaign.
The pattern of gifts to the Annual Campaign illustrates a clear generational shift. Most Jews born before 1925 - the GI Generation - peel out their checkbooks each year without a second thought. They vividly remember the pain of the Holocaust and the days of persecution and hope leading to the establishment of Israel. In contrast, members of the Boomer Generation, those 30 to 50 years old, lack that same attachment to Israel or the memory of the Holocaust. As a result, they are less likely to be affiliated with Jewish organizations and more likely to give to secular causes. Furthermore, Jews in this generation have higher rates of intermarriage, which has also had an impact on Jewish philanthropy: research shows that Jewish households where both partners are Jewish are four times more likely to give to federations.
With less government funding available, the Annual Campaign takes on greater importance. A growing Annual Campaign is the key to long-term financial stability. Together with endowments, specifically earmarked gifts and "once in a lifetime" or extraordinary contributions, the Annual Campaign provides philanthropic opportunities for a wide range of contributors. Thus, more dollars will be available to meet the growing needs of the Jewish community as we move into the next century.