UJA-NNJ readies for Super Sunday

UJA-NNJ readies for Super Sunday

UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey has set a goal of $1.1 million for its annual Super Sunday fund-raising drive this weekend at its Paramus headquarters.

The fund-raiser is the federation’s largest throughout the year and draws hundreds of volunteers, who call thousands of committed and potential donors across the area.

Numerous local and overseas programs supported by the North American federation system have seen their budgets cut in recent months because of the country’s economic downturn. While the economy is in better shape than this time last year, organizers still expect a tough sell. “There’s a greater need,” said co-chair Jonathan Rochlin of River Edge. “There’s only going to be more need.”

The percentage of dollars going to local initiatives rather than overseas is higher than ever, said co-chair Joan Krieger of Franklin Lakes. Krieger also serves as UJA-NNJ’s assistant treasurer. “I see how this has impacted our community and some of the wonderful programs we’ve been involved with overseas,” she said. “Everything’s been cut to the bone. I hope people will step up to the plate to the extent that they can so that we don’t have to cut anymore.”

New Jersey’s 11 Jewish federations coordinated a statewide Super Sunday last December. They did not collaborate on this year’s fund-raiser, but many decided to keep the early December date, said Allison Halpern, UJA-NNJ’s donor relations director. “We found we did very well by doing it earlier,” she said. “Part of it was people want to make donations before the year ends. We raised more money from more people than we had for some years.”

Last year the federation collected $1,115,566 from 2,400 donations, 500 more donations than the previous year’s fund-raiser, which brought in $1,095,819. Because of local organizations’ increased needs, the federation held a second Super Sunday in March, which raised almost $200,000 from more than 400 donors. The federation has set a goal of $9.5 million of undesignated gifts for its 2010 annual campaign, according to Elliot Halperin, UJA-NNJ’s campaign director.

“This represents an increase compared to last year, despite continuing economic challenges,” he said. “Our campaign team, led by campaign chair Dr. Zvi Marans, is working hard to exceed this goal – and deliver even more assistance to people in our community, in Israel, and beyond.”

The success of last year’s Super Sunday at the height of the recession has made organizers hopeful of equal success this year.

“During both Super Sunday and Super Sunday 2 last year, our expectations were far exceeded,” Krieger said. “The number of people that came out and gave – both old donors and new donors – was just overwhelmingly gratifying. It shows that when they know the need is there, the people in our community are there also.”

In addition to calling, the federation will also run a blood drive and bone marrow screenings throughout the day.

Callers will stress the need for donors to do their part to help, Rochlin said. “Nobody has ever gone bankrupt by making a donation,” he said. “It’s not going to impact your lifestyle but it’s going to have a major impact on somebody.”

Those called won’t just be asked for donations, though. “If they need help we’re there to offer help, also,” Rochlin said. “If somebody says, ‘I can’t make a donation this year,’ we’ll ask if they need assistance. That’s the other side of why we’re calling.”

For more information or to volunteer, call (201) 820-3955.

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