UJIA income falls to record low

Charity cites fewer fundraising events because of pandemic. But with 'core business' resumed, 'the community can witness the value of what we do'


UJIA will be hoping the restoration of Israel tours this summer heralds a return to normal business after the pandemic precipitated a drop in revenue last year.

Its 2021 income of £7.5 million —around £700,000 down on the £8.2 million for 2020 — was its lowest on record since UJIA amalgamated accounts with related charities in 1998.

“Our annual fundraising events, for example, were unable to take place and this of course had an impact,” explained chief executive Mandie Winston.

She added that “when the pandemic started, UJIA took a conscious decision not to actively fundraise within the community. We felt it was appropriate to step back and leave the fundraising spotlight to charities more directly involved in front-line service provision related to Covid, such as those specialising in elderly care.”

It was only this year that UJIA had been able to resume “core business”. With Israel summer tours back, “the community can again directly witness the value of what we do”.

Fundraising this year had already generated £500,000 for Israel tour bursaries — providing vital support “as we strive towards the goal of our Journey Home campaign of taking 10,000 young British Jews on organised visits to Israel in the next three years”.

Around £830,000 ($1 million) has also been raised for Ukrainians making aliyah in the wake of the Russian invasion.

“Of course, while the impact of the pandemic has subsided, we are now facing the challenge of the cost of living crisis,” Ms Winston observed. “These are challenges facing all charities and aren’t specific to UJIA.”

UJIA has faced a more competitive climate in recent years with the emergence of newer and more niche Israel-oriented charities such as the UK branch of the New Israel Fund and Beit Halochem UK, which supports the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers.

From 2000 to 2009, UJIA’s annual income averaged £11.1 million. But that dropped to £8.9 million in the subsequent decade.

“There is no doubt that the Jewish community is well served by a thriving charitable sector,” Ms Winston said.

“Rather than seeing ourselves in competition with other charities, however, UJIA takes great pride in the fact that so many Jewish charities are run and supported by people whose own path to Jewish leadership was paved by participation in UJIA-backed programmes.”

In 2021, spending on UK Israel-related programmes and education — around £2.9 million — exceeded allocations to causes in Israel of around £2.3 million. The cost of raising funds was £1.1 million.

But the balance did not represent “a historic trend”, Ms Winston maintained. “Instead, it reflects that we needed to adapt our programming to changing circumstances. We were unable to support visits to Israel.

“Next year’s accounts will show that we adapted again —for example, to the need to support the absorption of Ukrainian olim in Israel and the need to ensure that no young person misses out on Israel tour because of cost.”

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