In a departure from the way the Jewish Federation of Louisville runs its Annual Campaign, the JCL has announced that there won’t be campaign chairs this year.
Instead, it is try a new leadership model for the fundraising effort – a corps of emissaries to the community, which the Federation calls “ambassadors.”
“The ambassadors will serve as the face and voice of the Federation, building recognition, promoting the campaign and engaging community members by telling [their] story,” according to a prepared statement.
They also will play other key roles:
• Communicate what the Federation supports and how the money is allocated;
• Spread the word about the Federation’s mission;
• Have “meaningful conversations” with community members about their Annual Campaign gift;
• Make a “meaningful gift” to the Annual Campaign;
• Provide feedback to Federation staff;
• Network with community members;
• Promote Federation events and initiatives;
• Attend Jewish Louisville events during the year.
The most obvious difference between the ambassadors and the campaign chairs is how many there are. In the past, there were two, perhaps four, chairs per campaign. This year, there will be 24 ambassadors.
But Vice President of Philanthropy Stacy Gordon Funk said the differences go much deeper.
The ambassadors are not just longtime Federation supporters, she said. They come from every corner of the community – young and old, men and women, Louisville newcomers and legacy families.
“We feel like this is going to showcase the faces of the Federation,” Funk said, “the diversity, who we represent and who we serve.”
For instance, Margot Kling is serving with her granddaughter, Cari Hatch; and Michael and Mollie Weisberg – husband and wife with a toddler son – are on.
“People are coming through lots of different doors to represent the federation,” Funk said.
She expects the ambassadors’ stories to form a collective narrative that “showcases the breadth and depth of the Federation’s impact on the local and international Jewish community.”
Two ambassadors, Jessica Loving and Ben Vaughan will chair the program.
“Raising money for the Annual Campaign gets more and more challenging every year,” Loving said in a statement. “The ambassador program is our opportunity to reinvigorate the campaign and bring new people on board through an innovative and fresh approach to 21st century fundraising.”
Vaughan said the ambassadors will go beyond telling their own stories; they will be conduits of information, too.
If he doesn’t have an answer to someone’s question, Vaughan said, he can find another ambassador who does.
“They’re here to help facilitate and engage the community as a whole,” he said. “It’s not just, ‘I have a story; let me to tell you.” it’s more, ‘let’s talk about our story because I want to know what your story is as much as you want to know what mine is.’”
“Maybe, he continued, “there’s part of your story that can I not only relate to, but I can help you understand where the Federation fits in with that.”
Vaughan said the idea for the ambassadors came out of an understanding that the Federation must itself change to reflect a changing Jewish community.
“We need to reinvent ourselves,” he said. “In the past we’ve done telethons, we’ve done mailers; there’s a whole marketing philosophy behind it, but at the end of the day, it’s the one-on-one relationships that get people to show up.”
Which is what the Federation hopes the ambassadors will bring to the Annual Campaign.
Funk described the ambassadors as a “pilot project.” Depending on their success, the Federation could either stick with it next year, return to campaign chairs, or try something else.
Whatever it decides, Vaughan already knows what success looks like – at least for him:
“If my kids still have a community to come to,” he said.
Karen Abrams, Karen Bass, Tammy Behr, Shellie Branson, Logan Buren, Cari Hatch, David Kaplan, Margot Kling, Jessica Loving, Dorrie Prussian, Susan Rudy, William “Bill” Ryan, Corey Shapiro, Justin Shuster, Margaret Shuster, Julie Strull, Andy Trager, Kevin Trager, Ben Vaughan, Rebecca Waller, Scott Weinberg, Michael Weisberg, Mollie Weisberg, Alan Zimmerman