The kids are all right. I promise.
The kids – formally known around town as the Emerging Generation or EG – are happy, healthy and genuinely care about building our community. I know this first-hand through countless conversations and impressive data over the past two years co-chairing the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s Annual Campaign for the EG division.
The kids give. And we are giving more. During the 2016 Annual Campaign, 196 Emerging Generation donors came together to raise $38,631. That was almost 10 per cent of the Campaign’s total donors, and a $10,593 increase over the 2015 Campaign. Just as impressive, the EG division increased, card over card, by 37 per cent. On percentages and totals, we are punching above our weight, and our numbers continue to grow.
Our successes building the EG Annual Campaign over the past few years have been based on a simple principle: start with a conversation. Every member of the community, whether EG or beyond, is different, and every one of them has his or her own view of what the community means. As we encourage our EG peers to consider a philanthropic donation, we are also working to understand how they want to engage with our community and how the community can respond to those needs. Only then can we create the positive conditions for their involvement in our community today and for the long-term.
Our approach has been to recognize the differences among our peers as strengths, and address them as such. While large-scale change may take time, we are working to ensure that every EG member sees themself in the wide range of our outreach and activities by demonstrating the value of community. These conversations have fuelled shifts in our strategy to formalize event-based engagement as a key outreach tool for our cohort, and to expand the number of casual networking events for an even more targeted segment.
This strategy is keeping us on target for the ambitious goals that Federation outlined in its Strategic Plan for 2014-2019, including a 30 per cent increase in dollars to be raised each year, with a doubling of the donor base during this timeframe.
Within EG, we want to provide opportunities for as many people as possible to voice their perspectives, whether it is during a formal community survey, during coffee with a friend who volunteers, or during a “you-don’t-know-me-but-we-are-going-to-have-a-famously-awkward-but-meaningful-conversation” cold call (my personal favourite). We need to keep talking and listening, and find ways together to translate these conversations into meaningful action.
We are more than the next generation of leaders. We are today’s leaders, and we are making sure our voices are being heard through our words, deeds and donations.
We still have lots of work to do. But, like I said, the kids are all right.