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Jewish Journal

Federation to Reorganize Focus on Hunger Program

by Julie Gruenbaum Fax

June 8, 2010 | 6:59 pm

Just nine months ago, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles launched Fed Up With Hunger, a $375,000 campaign to rally Jews around combating hunger and, in the process, attract more Jews to Federation.

While Federation says it will continue dedicating resources and partnering with other organizations to fight hunger in Los Angeles, Fed Up With Hunger will no longer be central to Federation’s marketing campaign.

“I think it was not the best decision to position us as being in the hunger business. We’re in the community business, and part of community is hunger,” said Jay Sanderson, president of Federation, which funds hundreds of programs in Los Angeles and around the world. “Our marketing needs to reflect what we do, not direct what we do.”

The Fed Up With Hunger campaign, which was crafted by Federation leaders and Jewish marketing consultant Gary Wexler, used edgy graphics, funky events and a hip online presence, attracting a fair amount of attention and new participants.

“I believed that Federation could rebuild itself around an issue that would shake people and would inspire and involve them, and that then it could bring all the other issues forth,” said Wexler, founder of Passion Marketing, who completed his contract with Federation soon after the launch. “They needed a big, powerful issue in order to really engage the masses, who they hadn’t been engaging.”

Around 18,000 of Los Angeles’ estimated 200,000 Jewish households contribute to Federation. Wexler said younger people rallied around Fed Up With Hunger, and Federation staff and lay leaders were inspired to think in new ways.

Removing the marketing element “has really taken the air out of it,” Wexler said. “I believe in the future they will see that this could have had real potential for them.”

Sanderson said he believes the hunger campaign was too narrow, taking the focus off the comprehensive array of causes Federation supports.

Sanderson has broadened the marketing approach under the banner “Only Federation Has the Strength of Community.”

The new campaign uses real people to tell the story of how Federation brings community together to make a difference in people’s lives. A 52-page brochure and five-minute video rely on a conventional organizational look, not the urban vibe of the hunger campaign.

Sanderson said “Only Federation” will serve as a bridge until he unveils Federation’s centennial celebration, activities and marketing as 2011, the Federation’s 100th anniversary year, approaches. Sanderson promises a big bang, including a 1,000-person mission to Israel and a campaign, already launched, to raise $100 million.

Though Federation is abandoning the marketing end of Fed Up With Hunger, it is not getting out of the hunger business.

“We have for a long time been committed to addressing the hunger issue through our funding and through Jewish Family Service’s SOVA and other food programs that JFS has run. I think the expanded focus we brought to it under Fed Up With Hunger is a good thing, and that will continue as we build broader coalitions,” said Andrew Cushnir, who was vice president in the area of
serving the vulnerable when Fed Up With Hunger was launched. Cushnir was recently promoted to chief programming officer.

As one component of the campaign, Cushnir said, city, county and school district officials are all preparing reports to respond to Federation’s Blueprint to End Hunger. Hundreds of people have attended a hunger summit, a seder and an interfaith banquet, and volunteers, working through many synagogues and organizations, have collected, packed and delivered more than a ton of food.

Federation and Netiyah, a food justice organization, have collaborated on many projects and are now finalists to receive a Jewish Community Foundation Cutting Edge Grant to hire staff
specifically dedicated to the hunger initiative.

On June 13, Federation is sponsoring Community Challenge, a day of volunteerism focused around hunger. Some 300 volunteers are expected at about 20 sites, where they will package foods, collect leftovers at farmers markets and cook meals for the needy.

Click the link to sign up for the Community Challenge.

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