OPINION: Supporting charity shouldn’t be about the party

OPINION: Supporting charity shouldn’t be about the party

Youngsters at a fundraiser for Israel's medical emergency service, Magen David Adom
Youngsters at a fundraiser for Israel's medical emergency service, Magen David Adom

By Jamie Landesberg, Chair, Young Jewish Care

Jamie Landesberg
Jamie Landesberg

Getting young Jewish people to attend a party or a film night in support of a charity isn’t easy, but if you put on a good event and have the sales team to support it, they can flock in their numbers.

Great nights, friendships, romance and thousands of pounds raised – you can’t argue with that can you?

However, ask most people in the room what is the name of the charity they are supporting and you are greeted by blank faces. Most of those attending won’t know and more often than not they don’t care. They just came along to the party.

Don’t get me wrong, I am always up for a celebration, especially one that raises money for charity. However, the lack of understanding about the charitable organisations that are often the lifeline to many in our community should be a concern. It doesn’t bode well for the future.

I was once that young party-goer, with little knowledge of who or what I was supporting. That all changed, overnight.

Despite my great-grandmother living in a Jewish Care home and my parents being long-standing donors, I knew little about the work of the organisation. I also never thought twice about the support our community provides for itself.

I certainly didn’t think about what would happen if our communal support organisations weren’t there for us should we need them. And as that young party-goer, I didn’t really think about the need for me or my peers to get involved.

It only took someone to open my eyes, tell me more and take me on some visits to Jewish Care resources to get me on board.

Youngsters at a fundraiser for Israel's medical emergency service, Magen David Adom
Youngsters at a fundraiser for Israel’s medical emergency service, Magen David Adom

Now I am on a mission of my own. I get it now. I can see the concern that many communal organisations have.

While giving is still significantly higher in our community than in others, increasing numbers of young secular Jews don’t have the affinity with Jewish charities that their parents’ or their grandparents’ generations had.

The JPR report found that a greater proportion of respondents prioritised giving to non-Jewish charities than Jewish ones. And this percentage increases significantly when you look at secular Jews under the age of 40.

My mission, however, isn’t all about money. Yes, funds are important – without them there’s no Jewish Care. However, without the army of 3,600 volunteers who give their time each year, there’s no Jewish Care.

Either way, whether we are talking about giving time or money, young people need to be encouraged to engage in our communal organisations. That’s my mission. As the newly- appointed chair of Young Jewish Care I want to engage as many young people as possible in the organisation.

I’m not alone in my support for Jewish Care. We have a fantastic group of young people – some who give hours of their free time and boundless energy to volunteer, others who give generously to support our work.

However it’s not enough. The band of current supporters needs to grow if our generation wants Jewish Care to be around for them, if and when they need it.

When I started my own business, people said it would be tough. It turns out it’s not as tough as engaging my peers in the UK’s largest Jewish social-care charity.

I know that if they saw what I see when visiting Jewish Care resources and hear about the support Jewish Care provides for people I’ve met while on these visits, maybe this would change.

If I sound like a woman on a mission, I am! Now I get it, Jewish Care will always be a big part of my life. I just hope as I go on my over-enthusiastic merry way, I can bring a whole band of followers with me.

• If you are interested in finding out more about how you can get involved, contact Young Jewish Care on 020 8922 2814

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