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Big projects need younger donors

    Financial problems have not deterred charities from embarking on ambitious projects.

    Jewish Care is undertaking major schemes in Redbridge, Hendon and Stanmore, which will incorporate substantial independent living elements, a reflection of the success of the independent living facility, Selig Court, on its Golders Green campus. It is a bonus that independent living is cheaper than care home provision.

    Chief executive Simon Morris points out that the charity has broken with cautious tradition by working on three projects simultaneously. It is a question of meeting demand. "We have still got quite a bit of money to raise. We haven't had any conversations with funders since Brexit and one doesn't know what is going to happen. The outlook at the moment is really challenging."

    For the Redbridge project - a £22 million redevelopment of its Sinclair House site - it is borrowing £14 million.

    With such commitments, engaging a new generation of donors is imperative as Jewish Care currently needs to raise £15 million, one-third of its budget, from the community. Yet it is no longer a given that Jews will prioritise communal causes.

    "Our parents and grandparents will have seen Jewish charities as the mainstay of their giving. Ninety to 95 per cent of that giving would go to the community. The next generation are much more assimilated in their giving," Mr Morris says.

    "That 95p in every pound that would have come to the Jewish community 10, 15 years ago is now 50p. They're giving to schools in Africa, the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House.

    James Cordon in the picture at The Fed's dinner
    James Cordon in the picture at The Fed's dinner

    "The only people who will support Jewish charities are Jews. While we in Britain have a responsibility to support the rest of society, the debate needs to be around the proportion of giving.

    "If the community wants a Jewish Care, a Norwood, a Nightingale, a Jami, a UJIA, a CST and a JW3, they are going to have to fund it."

    At Norwood - which is overseeing a major rebuild of its Ravenswood Village in Berkshire - chief executive Elaine Kerr cites the recent Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) report on philanthropy within the community, which found that those over 60 are more likely to give to Jewish charities than people under 40.

    "The report accurately reflects the giving we have seen in the younger generations," she says. "They do give but are equally committed to non-Jewish and Jewish causes."

    Nightingale Hammerson is ploughing £36 million into a redevelopment of its Hammerson home in north London, of which it will be looking to raise £12 million from the community over the next three years. Another £2 million is being spent at the Nightingale site in Clapham to accommodate some of the Hammerson residents who will transfer when construction begins next year.

    For general spending, the charity endeavours to break even with the annual £15 million budget relying on £3 million in voluntary income and £1 million from investments.

    The Hammerson project is dear to the heart of chief executive Helen Simmons. "I'm very interested in what the technology is going to look like. I am getting excited about laundry shutes," she says.

    But the future holds "many levels of uncertainty", particularly because of Brexit. Ms Simmons notes that key donors are in the badly-hit property sector.

    Mark Cunningham, chief operating officer at The Fed in Manchester, says it needs to raise at least £1 million of its £7 million turnover from the community and tries to keep costs in check by "not providing services that other organisations are delivering". He advocates "a more joined up approach" to avoid duplication. Ms Kerr says Norwood "uses every opportunity to reduce costs in collaboration with other charities and often provides the smaller ones with free support and advice. Norwood works closely with both Kisharon and Langdon."

    Mr Morris goes further. Jewish Care was created out of the merger of the Jewish Welfare Board with the Jewish Blind Society and he recalls that after becoming chief executive 12 years ago, "I sent out New Year's cards to all my fellow chief executives. I now send out more cards than I did 12 years ago. It's not sustainable. There has to be some coming together.

    "The Jami model we developed is one that is attractive for the sector [the mental health charity has come under Jewish Care's wing while retaining its identity]. We are able to plan for that service to be developed and where appropriate, to do their back office stuff. It reduces their costs and so allows more money to go into frontline services.

    "I also think that in some areas of the care sector, it is going to be more difficult going forward for single home operators because of the level of bureaucracy. I hope that as a community, we will continue to work towards an increased strategic approach to rationalisation." To this end, Jewish Care is in "conversations" with another charity, which Mr Morris declined to name.

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