by Michael J Weil
Four years ago we at the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans hired a consultant to take a long hard look at our annual campaign and bring it into the 21st century. She had some brilliant ideas and innovations, most of which we have since implemented successfully. But one of her recommendations was to scrap Super Sunday. “Why bother?” She said. “Most Federations have dropped this dinosaur. It’s such a lot work and not worth the effort. In these days of internet technology, texting donations and e-philanthropy, it is obsolete.” She added, “And if you insist, use a telemarketing firm.”
So we listened and for one year we did without Super Sunday. Instead we had an end of campaign telephone clean-up over two nights. What happened? Everyone was up in arms. “How could you do this?” “We like to volunteer for Super Sunday.” “It’s a fun day? “Why leave money on the table?”
So we brought it back the following year and we are delighted. Super Sunday in New Orleans just rocks!!
This past Sunday we held Super Sunday and over 100 volunteers showed up and worked, including clerical help the days following. We raised the most money since Katrina, over $151,000 from 428 cards. That’s a ten percent increase from last year and we had a blast. There were 35 door prizes and tons of food and drink, all donated. People were busy like ants, making calls, serving food, stuffing envelopes and running from table to table.
I made about a hundred calls and I only got one refusal because she has too many other commitments. In New Orleans people understand why the Jewish Federation is important and they thank us for calling them. Some large gifts were closed but there were mostly small ones, some as low as $18. But we are happy for every gift because people give from the heart on Super Sunday.
We had tables divided by affinity groups and by gift size. We even had a special table where newcomers and young folks were called and it of course was manned by… newcomers and young folks.
And while all this is happening, the air waves were buzzing. Look at all the Tweets and Facebook postings each hour announcing our progress as we worked toward our goal.
Our theme for the year was “Hit the Chai Note” and so we did as we marked our progress of gifts on a musical scale of piano keys on a giant poster.
So think of the future and re-invent Super Sunday for your Federation too.
Michael J Weil is Executive Director at the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans.