Responses to Common Objections


I. Objections about our agencies:

I don’t want my money going to _________.

This agency is part of our Jewish community and provides valuable services to many of our friends, family and neighbors. MJF is about the collective, and this means supporting organizations that you may not love but are doing important work to those who need it.

I would rather give directly to my favorite agencies.

We encourage our donors to support our Annual Campaign and donate directly to their favorite agencies. Many of our agencies depend on your Annual Campaign gift to keep their doors open. And many of your favorite programs may not exist without your annual campaign gift. If the JCC can’t staff the Jewish Community pantry, the Pantry will go away. If JFS can’t administer J-HELP, this program for struggling Jews will go away.

I don’t want to support JFS because…

…it serves too many non-Jews, and we need to focus on supporting our own community.

Ironically, by supporting non-Jews, JFS improves its ability to care for the Jewish community. They receive funding from sources like Medicaid and United Way, which require the organization to serve individuals of all religious faiths. If JFS were to serve Jews only, they
would lose this funding, shrinking the scale and scope of services provided to everyone, including Jews.

…it’s no longer a Jewish organization. They are the same as Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Social Services.

JFS is unique because it was founded on and operates by Jewish values including tikkun olam, improving the society in which we live. When you support JFS, you are fulfilling our mandate to support the broader community, and the broader community is witnessing the
importance Jews place on caring for the world in which they live.

I don’t want to support the JCC because…

…the JCC doesn’t need my money because they have profit centers and they receive money from United Way.

The JCC is a nonprofit social service organization. It’s a complex operation that needs many sources of funding. They depend on their profit centers and funds from United Way to support their social service work and their investment in Jewish culture and education.

…the JCC serves too many non-Jews.

The JCC’s mission is to strengthen Jewish identity and to enrich Jewish life. The organization is better able to fulfill this mission when it serves a broad population. More members and more participants expand the scope and scale of the JCC operations, enabling it to provide
more services to the Jewish community. In addition, the JCC exposes non-Jews to the culture and values of the Jewish community. This is an important opportunity for creating acceptance and understanding of Jews across Milwaukee.

…I don’t want to support a fitness center.

The JCC is a non-profit social service agency founded on Jewish ethics and values. Its fitness center brings together Jews who might otherwise have little interaction with the Jewish community. It’s a safe and neutral place for Jews to socialize and to build lifelong friendships. The fitness center is also an entry point for Jews to become more involved in the Jewish community. Once they become part of the JCC family, they are more likely to participate in educational and cultural activities that strengthen Jewish identity and the fabric of our
Jewish community.

I don’t want my money going to Jewish day schools because we have excellent public schools.

Jewish schools are about more than education. They are about fostering Jewish identity and investing in the future of the Jewish community. We also need a variety of options for Jewish education. A synagogue-based religious school may work for some families, but day school
might be the solution for other families. Ultimately, we want all Jewish children to find a way to connect to Jewish life.

Supporting Jewish day schools is a critical investment for people who care about Jewish community. Jewish day schools create Jewish leaders of the future. Day school graduates go on to support the Jewish community with their time and financial resources. They also
lead with Jewish values of justice and kindness in their personal and professional lives.

I want to designate my Annual Campaign gift to a specific agency.

Our Annual Campaign is about more than supporting specific agencies. Jews are a communal people, and our Annual Campaign is our communal response to needs locally and around the world. Together we make a statement about the power of Jewish generosity.

II. Objections related to my stage of life:

I want to reduce my gift because I no longer live in Milwaukee full time.

Milwaukee is where you established yourself financially and where you raised your children with the benefit of a vibrant Jewish community. We still need your support to ensure that other Jewish families have access to the same institutions that were important to your family when you lived here.

The agencies MJF supports are no longer relevant to me.

We Jews take care of each other. It’s important for us to support our agencies because we never know when someone we care about will need them. I know that one day my family will need the services of JFS or the Jewish Home, and I’ll be very grateful that someone was supporting those organizations so they will be there when I need them.

My children no longer live here.

We never know where our children will end up, and we want to have strong Jewish organizations to serve them. If my children move to Denver or San Diego or Houston, I know I’ll be grateful to the Jews in those cities for sustaining a strong Jewish community that will benefit my family.

III. Objections about Federation:

Too much money goes to the Federation.

For the last four years, MJF has received the highest rating by Charity Navigator for fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency. Overhead expenses are one of the factors considered. The standard for responsible overhead costs for nonprofits is 12%. MJF spends only 10% on overhead. By supporting MJF through this 10%, you are enabling us to raise and distribute about $20 million annually. You are also supporting important programs that are part of MJF including Jewish Museum Milwaukee, Israel Center and the Nathan and
Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center.

I don’t want my donation to support MJF staff going to Israel and big donors going to Europe.

These trips were not paid for by your gift to the Annual Campaign. They were paid for by gifts specifically to fund these programs by donors who felt the trips would help further the Federation’s mission.

I don’t agree with the Federation’s politics.

As with most Jewish communities, Milwaukee’s has a vast array of opinions on everything from seemingly small matters, like where local events are held, to big issues like peace in the Middle East. We rely on more than 400 volunteers to represent this array of opinions. Rather than withholding your financial support, please consider getting involved if you feel that your voice is not being heard.

MJF is just a pass through and doesn’t add value.

MJF is much more than a pass-through. Here are a few examples of how we add value:

1. We are a highly cost-effective means of raising and distributing millions of dollars to support the local Jewish community that otherwise may not be realized.

2. We provide services that no other organization can provide like enhancing security for Jewish community organizations, developing a bridge to the communities of greater Milwaukee and Wisconsin, responding immediately to crises in the local and global Jewish community, and advocating for the Jewish people in Madison and Washington, DC.

3. We own, finance and operate the Karl Jewish Community Campus which is the home of many Jewish organizations and a place for Jews to gather, learn and socialize

4. We operate our own programs that are important to the Jewish community including Jewish Museum Milwaukee, the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center, and Israel Center.

5. MJF is the only organization that examines the Jewish community as a whole to identify needs and provide community-wide solutions. For example, we recently convened a task force to examine how MJF can most effectively support Jewish education an engagement in Milwaukee’s Jewish community. As a result, we are making targeted investments like providing professional education to Jewish teachers and creating a fund to supportive innovation in Jewish education. The entire community will benefit from this process.

IV. Objections about Israel:

I don’t want to give to Israel because Israelis should support themselves. 

Philanthropy among Israelis continues to grow. This is a huge cultural shift as historically the Israeli government provided a safety net and took care of social services. Israelis are creating a culture of philanthropy in Israeli society but it takes time to develop.

I don’t want to give to Israel because I don’t like what the government is doing.

Many of us are frustrated by and angry with the government of Israel. You can be assured that your gift to the Federation’s Annual Campaign
does not benefit the government. In Milwaukee, your gift helps strengthen Jewish identity among Milwaukeeans through Israel cultural programs and through Israel experiences like Birthright trips. In Israel, your gift helps Israelis in need of social and supportive services.

I don’t like what Israel is doing to the Palestinians.

We are desperately concerned about the suffering of Palestinians. However, withholding funds to our Annual Campaign does nothing to support the Palestinians but is devastating for the Israelis of all religions that benefit from programs we support.

Need more help? Email or call Shelly Sampon, Campaign Director, at 414-390-5723.