By Andrew Adler
This year’s telethon gets under way Sunday, Feb. 4 at 10 a.m., when a cadre of volunteers will gather at the Trager Family JCC to work the phones for two hours on behalf of the 2024 campaign.
“Super Sunday is the community’s day,” says Sara Klein Wagner, the Federation’s president and CEO. “There’s always buzz in the room. And there are people who appreciate that a volunteer reached out to them – that they’re part of the Super Sunday collective.”
It’s a blend of pacesetting and practicality. “Our volunteers are incredible,” Wagner says. “But we don’t have enough of them to literally meet face-to-face with every single donor. So Super Sunday, for decades, has been a space where people are willing to give their time to help make sure that everyone’s included in the campaign, where we try to have as many personal conversations as we can.”
“I think a lot of people want to give – they just want to be asked,” says Beth Salamon, chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council and an unabashedly enthusiastic Super Sunday volunteer.
This isn’t a matter of cold calling – quite a few people on the other end of the phone are longtime givers, who appreciate being contacted by someone who shares their values.
“There are traditional Super Sunday donors I’ve heard from,” Wagner says, “who enjoy knowing that’s when they’re getting their call and having their conversation, then being acknowledged and thanked for their continuous commitment.”
Volunteers, too, tend to get a lot out of the experience. “It gives individuals who are participating a real opportunity to look across the table to other colleagues who are also participating,” says former Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson, a longtime Super Sunday volunteer, “and draw from them the energy and excitement that’s occurring as phone calls are made and financial commitments are secured.”
“For me it’s an easy ask,” Salamon says. “It’s easy to talk about all the good work and where the money’s going supporting the Jewish community. Typically, “I’m calling somebody who’s already committed to giving, so it’s just thanking them for their support and talking about the new things that are going on.”
Veteran Super Sunday volunteers know the typical prep drill. “There’s a little pep talk after the beginning,” Salamon says. “Then you’re given a list of callers, you find a little area in the room and start calling away.”
Busy, but low tension. “I used to telemarket, and I was terrified of calling people,” she recalls with a laugh. “In college I got this job selling replacement windows over the phone, and that was really hard. So this is like nothing.”
There is a bit of luck involved – will the person answer the call, or let it go to voicemail? “I’m actually surprised – I’ll leave messages and people will call back,” Salamon says. “They know it’s Super Sunday; they expect the call.”
How would Salamon advise a prospective volunteer? “I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t done it before to get over their fear of picking up the phone and asking for money to give it a go,” she says. “It’s not that hard.”
Indeed, “every year there are also first-time givers who bring a lot of pride to the volunteer making that call,” Wagner says. It’s hugely satisfying when “a volunteer has a conversation with a donor who’s excited to participate – perhaps for never before, or not for a long while.”
Numerous donors have already given to the Federation’s emergency campaign supporting Israel after the October 7 attacks by Hamas. They recognize that the Annual Campaign, which addresses predominantly local needs, continues to merit their support.
“Many of them have made significant contributions to the Israeli emergency humanitarian fund,” Abramson says, “and those are the same ones we have counted on for years, and who continue to be supportive of the services offered through the Jewish Federation. I’m very proud to be a part of the Super Sunday team.”
If you’d like to participate or want more information, contact Lee Anne Alsup at 502-238-2707 or email@example.com. To give to the Annual Campaign, go online at jewishlouisville.org/donate.