AABGU’s “Not So Secret” Fundraising Success
December 23, 2014
eJewishphilanthropy.com — In an article titled “How American Fundraisers for Israeli Causes Tackle the Year-End Philanthropy Rush,” a JNS.org reporter, Maayan Jaffe, spoke with AABGU Executive Vice President Doron Krakow. An excerpt of the article follows.
“We’ve evolved,” says Doron Krakow. “We’ve gone from being a mom-and-pop entity to one with a more strategic identity to it.”
AABGU raised $60 million in its last fiscal year, $19 million more than its previous best year. What’s the secret sauce? Krakow, saying he wouldn’t call it a “secret,” notes that AABGU has worked over the past half-decade to implement “the best attributes of what fundraising organizations should include” – a strong marketing and public relations team, dynamic programming and events, and deeply enriching engagement opportunities for donors (including young leaders).
Krakow stresses the importance of thinking outside the box. A few years ago, AABGU launched a new series of missions for top donors to locations outside of Israel – places about which Ben-Gurion University (BGU) faculty members have some level of expertise.
For example, two years ago, AABGU took a mission to the Jamaican capital of Kingston, where a BGU historian spent four days exposing AABGU leadership to a Jewish community that was largely unfamiliar to them. (Kingston at one time had the largest Jewish population in the Americas.)
Last year, AABGU’s trip to the Balkans sold out in three weeks and had a waiting list of 20 people.
“Out of the box? Yeah, this is certainly out of the box,” Krakow tells JNS.org. “But people in the major gifts philanthropy world are well-traveled and accustomed to having compelling and exciting experiences on different parts of the globe. … The secret sauce here is blowing them away with content and quality, ensuring whatever touch you have with a member of your community – donor or prospect – is a touch that leaves them glad they had it.”
Krakow acknowledges that some American organizations looking to raise funds for Israel of late are experiencing challenges because of the political climate – namely, the influence of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement’s anti-Israel advocacy and the general disengagement of young Jews from the Israel issue.
“I know there are organizations having trouble engaging donors with Israel and leaving them energized and inspired,” says Krakow.
With that in mind, AABGU is tapping into donors who are already passionate about the Jewish state, while promoting the more specific cause of the Negev to those who might not be aware of it.
“In the Negev, there is the unfinished business of nation-building,” Krakow says. “It’s a powerful, positive and opportunistic theme. There are plenty of people that are passionate about Israel that are just not exposed to what is happening in the Negev. I think we can go 10, 15 or 20 years [fundraising from that cohort] without feeling we are running up against a ceiling.”