Peer Spotlights

Peer Spotlights at the 2022 JCamp 180 Conference

At the 2022 JCamp 180 conference, five attendees shared short stories highlighting how they and their camps had effectively strengthened their donor relationship development practices. The stories illuminated a wide range of effective practices from leading with purpose to inspire greater giving to prioritizing unrestricted endowment growth to establishing strategic partnerships that excite and motivate existing, new, and lapsed donors. The ultimate goal was for all attendees to think about how these stories might inform their own practices at camp.

You can find each of their stories below.

Jacob Fijman, Development Director, URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp

Kelley Korbin, Fundraising Chair, Habonim Dror Camp Miriam

Michael Soberman, Camp Committee Co-Chair, Camp Kadimah

Sam Caplan, Chief Development Officer, Camp Ramah in Wisconsin

Addie Goodman, President & CEO, JCC of Chicago (Apachi Day Camps)

Jacob Fijman, Development Director, URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp
Question: What are the key ingredients that lead to success in your major donor relationship development work and what is the plan for the upcoming year?
We lead with purpose and authenticity and connect it to what donors care about most.
We leverage personal and camper stories to share our vision with our donors who are motivated by Jacob’s unique positioning as a hub of Jewish Life that ensures a flourishing Judaism in the Deep South.
We are slow, steady, and intentional in relationship development
  • Donors are valued and respected partners in our long-term vision and impact, and not ATM machines
  • We are not in Big Bet campaign mode 24/7.  We optimize special milestones that call for impact asks and investments
    • Sequence in recent past
      • 50th reunion
      • Sustainability campaign
      • Leading towards $10M capital campaign
We approach campaign growth in a measured and strategic way.
In the upcoming year, while we steward loyalist major donors towards capital investment, we are making a concerted effort on retention of new and existing donors with a keen eye on sourcing for higher capacity prospects to feed our major donor pipeline.
What does this mean for YOUR camp?
  • Start with your camp’s long-term vision
  • Invite your donors and prospects to be a part of that vision and play a vital role in enabling the vision to become a reality
  • Build long-term relationships with donors
    • Share impact through personal camper/staff stories
    • Stewardship
    • Optimize special milestones for solicitations; report impact and steward in between

Kelley Korbin, Fundraising Chair, Habonim Dror Camp Miriam

: In our prep conversation, I was struck by the way in which your fundraising practice has been evolving beginning with a powerful shift in your mindset. Please share your Eureka Moment which leads you and Gili Avrahami (Director of Development, Habonim Dror Camp Miriam), both relatively new to and “not entirely comfortable with fundraising,” to approach your major donor relationship work with greater confidence and gusto. Don’t forget to share the key motivators that led to the recent $1M philanthropic investment.
Reframe (GLI (GIFT Leadership Institute = Gamechanger)
  • We pursue excellence and inspiration in relationships and Culture of Philanthropy first; donations will follow
Authenticity in Staff/Lay/Donor Partnership 
  • We learned to show humility with donors – sharing what we don’t know and inviting donors to help us learn and plan together.
  • Donors are our thought partners; connectors; people with passion, expertise, good instincts, and clout
  • We now see donors as co-creators in this work – they are not just an ATM
Genuine Curiosity About Donor as Human Being with Shared Values, Love of Camp, and Hopes for Vitality of Jewish Community
  • Genuine curiosity drives us to get to know our donors and achieve new depth of relationship and clues that guide our strategy
    • Why do you give and what is important to you? Where does that intersect with camp’s needs?
    • How can we make your experience better?
Key Motivators That Led to $1M Investment
  • Authentic Partnership 
  • Consistency
  • Aligned Values
  • Donor Belief in the Effectiveness of our Work and Mission
  • Clincher: You and your team have energy - “I want to invest in this”
    • Energy in relationship building – curiosity and authenticity
    • Youth leaders make thank you calls
    • Board members build on relationships and have important roles
What does this mean for YOUR camp?
  • Be open, authentic, and curious with donors – they can be part of the solution, not just a source of funds
  • Focus first on building relationships and culture of philanthropy
  • Learn donors’ interests; find where they intersect with camp needs

Michael Soberman, Camp Committee Co-Chair, Camp Kadimah

Question: What are the most important steps you, Sarah Atkins (Director, Camp Kadimah), and your team are taking to move from an episodic approach to fundraising which had at best yielded inconsistent results from the same families year-over-year to a strategic major gift approach that is tracking towards $3M?
Crystal Clear Call to Action
  • Pre-pandemic we knew we needed to secure the future of our camp and that our existing fundraising strategy was not going to be sufficient
  • Covid was a whirlwind
    • Though camp closed for two years, we did not desist in our reinvigorated strategy
    • We launched a campaign and set an audacious goal of $3 Million
  • In conjunction with milestone 80th Anniversary
Leadership Join Forces and Establish High Philanthropic Bar
  • To change culture and inspire growth among under-giving Board members and other stakeholders, key leaders gave pacesetter gifts
  • Camp Director and Board Chair artfully pushed for significant investments
  • Builds momentum
Family Philanthropy Leveraged
  • Intergenerational camp family approached - led to impact gifts from pooled resources
Reengaged Founding and Early Years Constituents 
  • Constituents live in two locales - now united in purpose
  • Those that migrated to Toronto were reengaged

What does this mean for YOUR camp?
  • Don’t be afraid to pursue major gifts – camp makes an incredible impact that donors want to support
  • Start with leadership gifts, board gifts to start momentum
  • Look for opportunities for intergenerational families to make leadership gifts
Sam Caplan, Chief Development Officer, Camp Ramah in Wisconsin

: Crises emanating from Covid signaled fertile ground for fundraising. How have you leveraged this to inspire greater philanthropy in current endowment and legacy building?
Use Lessons from Covid to Power Your Endowment & Legacy Building Strategy
  • Comprehensive campaign (with integrated annual, capital, and endowment asks) ended in 2020
  • Despite the fact that donors were not as excited about the endowment pillar as the annual campaign and capital, we were able to double the size of the endowment
  • This growth served us well through covid and will continue to serve us as loyal major donors understand now better than ever the power of endowment not just for long-term viability but also to help us weather any storm
Reengagement with Families That Have Tradition of Giving Endowment
  • Circling back to existing endowment donors 
    • Asked permission to use endowments for Covid relief
    • Also had reinvestment conversations 
  • These conversations led into conversations about legacy

Infuse Giving with Vim and Vigor Through Big Initiative this Spring that will have a Major Focus on Endowment Growth
  • Especially to support our funding model, which is built on a commitment to lowering tuition costs by relying on philanthropy to fill the gap.  
What does this mean for YOUR camp?
  • The recent crisis of the pandemic may be the perfect time to have conversations about the importance of endowment with your loyal donors
  • Do you already have donors who have given to an endowment fund? Be sure to stay connected, discuss the impact of their gifts, and learn more about their current needs
  • Consider integrated asks that include annual, capital, and legacy/endowment gifts
Addie Goodman, President & CEO, JCC of Chicago (Apachi Day Camps)

: Recognizing the challenges of securing philanthropic gifts among day camp families, how have you and your team invigorated major gift fundraising at Apachi Day Camps?
We seized an opportunity that is mission-aligned and BOLD and we are seeing very promising early signs. We decided to expand our offerings with a social service option, welcoming children with cancer and their siblings to participate in Camp Sunrise for free for life.
This means that philanthropy must cover ALL their costs.  We said yes to this opportunity before we had one penny and as we were in a budding relationship with a prominent local family.
Keys to Success:
  • Compelling Work & Call to Action
  • Partnership with Seed Funder Aligns with their Interests
    • A father and daughter duo – the daughter is a pediatric oncologist who was immediately inspired by this concept
  • Meaningful Engagement Inspires Larger Investment & Leadership/Championship
    • Site visit shows impact
    • Cocreation of the campaign increases the donor’s commitment to camp and the campaign
    • Donors commit to raising additional funds through a Challenge Grant and through engaging their personal network, introducing team to other prominent local families
  • Elevated Visibility and Momentum 
    • $50K check from a reengaged family 
      • Hosted Luncheons Attracting Others
    • Family Philanthropy: Giving Circles to Invest in Different Aspect of the Camp
  • Philanthropy Supports Camp Sunrise + Strengthens Apachi Day Camps
    • Investment in the facilities and other shared services
What does this mean for YOUR camp?
  • Every camp has an incredible case for support AND donors who want to support it
  • Find donors who are interested in supporting camp; learn what in particular inspires them
  • Find ways to cultivate the relationship – site visits, listening to their ideas and interests
  • Further develop relationships with donors through cocreation of a campaign; leveraging their donation as a matching gift; asking them for help connecting with others in the community; etc.
  • Leverage family philanthropy!