Pickings in a mid-winter mailbox are slim: The holidays are over; it’s too early for spring catalogs, and a property tax bill that will raid my bank account hasn’t yet arrived. No better time for an envelope to get noticed.
So why did a Jewish non-profit that does good work come away empty-handed after grabbing my attention with its nice brochure?
Strike one: The appeal for funds was addressed to my husband, despite a previous donation, made in both our (different) surnames.
Strike two: The letterhead shows an all-male board.
Strike three: There was no reply to my email explaining why my wallet would be closed.
Did I expect a response? Not really. What did I hope to accomplish, except to deliver a message: You’re leaving money on the table.
A recent article about evolving trends in Jewish philanthropy offered a fleeting yet stinging portrait of women and money in the Jewish community. An article entitled, “For the Perplexed: A Guide to Jewish Giving” in a recent issue of The Jewish Week opened with the following:
A middle-aged professional in the Jewish communal world, Ari H. deals with a dilemma of Jewish life…. Collectors for various Jewish charities, domestic and from Israel, show up at his synagogue on a regular basis. Sometimes men — it’s always men, usually bearded men — show up at his door, driven around the area from Jewish house to Jewish house by a hired driver who has a chart of donors that is the Jewish equivalent of “a map of stars in Hollywood.”
I would like to focus on the “it’s always men” part of this narrative. Because in fact, there are plenty of women in the field of non-profit — women who are fundraising, who are doing outstanding work and who, incidentally, don’t usually have beards. Apparently none of them are being treated to a Hollywood tour of American Jewish money.