The Jackson-based Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life had a simple challenge — raise $1 million by March 10 to get a $500,000 matching gift from an anonymous donor.
What was not so simple? The challenge was issued at the end of January.
Nevertheless, the Institute was able to rally enough support to raise in excess of $1 million, securing the $500,000 matching gift. The Institute had to raise at least $500,000 to gain any of the 1:2 match, meaning for every $2 the ISJL was able to raise during the challenge, the anonymous donor would contribute $1, up to a maximum of a $500,00 match for $1 million raised.
The donations did not have to be paid by March 10, they can be spread out through 2015.
“The grassroots support truly is phenomenal,” says ISJL President Macy B. Hart. “We had contributions from foundations, individuals, congregations; the amount of support and encouragement we received from our contributors throughout this process has been wonderful, and we thank everyone for their help. The turnaround on this, when we had just over a month to meet the goal, was just incredibly inspiring — and it’s not too late to give! We still have more to raise, but we’re certainly starting this year off on the right foot, and we are so grateful.”
It was quite a kickoff for the Institute, which is celebrating its Bar Mitzvah year. The Institute provides educational and rabbinic services to Southern Jewish communities, preserves the rich history of the Southern Jewish Experience, and offers community engagement opportunities and inclusive cultural programming throughout the organization’s 13-state region.
Other major donors have been inspired by the short campaign and the Institute believes there may be additional “challengers” who will match donations this year.