By Seth Leslie, Chief Development Officer
Shalom, chaverim (friends)!
Greetings from the OFJCC’s Team Development.
We are here today dropping some big news.
For those of you in the know, the OFJCC has hosted our Annual Benefit for as long as many of us can remember. We followed the traditional gala formula of cocktails, dinner, program, fundraising and entertainment, and we’ve done a pretty decent job. People had fun, old friends were seen, you were all obscenely generous, scholarships were granted, everyone rejoiced. Rinse and repeat.
Then came 2021. COVID-19 halted us in our tracks, so we reluctantly pivoted to our first ever virtual Annual Benefit, which we strangely named, “Gathering.” Things went pretty well despite the fact that you weren’t all held hostage in a massive tent on our field. We pounded the phones (and your email inboxes) to raise the scholarship funds necessary to make our programs accessible. We thank you for your tremendous generosity. And then, epiphany! If we don’t need the room to raise the funds, what do we do with the room?
Fast forward to March 2022. We turned your Bubbe’s fundraiser on its head and killed the sit-down dinner, the formal program and the public fundraising. We shifted our focus towards creating feelings of belonging and a first-class experience for all who attended.
For the first time ever, we communicated that we value your time as much as your money, and we invited co-creators to attend for the gift of their creativity. If you were among this beautiful group of humans, you generated an amazing evening.
Our new model generated many questions: can we better communicate what the event is all about? Can we provide a better sense of what to expect? Should we refresh the entire “Annual Benefit” brand? So we engaged Two Cents Riot, an outstanding, women-owned firm that collaborates with teams and founders. They helped us solidify our Brand Value Overview. It turns out our annual Benefit generates more than just funds. It is here to…
But what to call this annual celebration?
We had meetings, we discussed ideas, we mulled, we pondered, we brainstormed, we questioned. Finally, we coalesced. So here you are, the moment you’ve been waiting for.
Introducing… our new annual community celebration concept:
“The Annual!” Brilliant, right? Okay, don’t laugh. We know the event used to be called “The Annual Benefit,” and this isn’t that different. But as Leonardo diCaprio once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Wait, um (checks notes)—I meant Leonardo da Vinci. That was definitely da Vinci. And as Steve Jobs added, “Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it because once you do, you can move mountains.” (Definitely Jobs.)
The Annual is the most magical and inspiring community event of the year. Celebrating the OFJCC as a touchstone for so many lives, the evening reverberates with a sense of homecoming, renewal and welcome. We hope you’ll mark your calendars for Saturday, March 18 and join us in this not-to-be missed annual benefit experience, reimagined so all can share in a gathering of purpose and belonging.
It’s our Mazal Tov Milestone: a celebration of the J’s 13th year, mitzvah style. Will you co-create with us? Will you invite your friends to celebrate this community? Will you renew your support? Don’t worry, no need to decide now—we will definitely be in touch.
We hope to see you there, and as always, we thank you for being on this incredible journey—for your many gifts of time, treasure and talent—as we pursue vibrant Jewish living in Silicon Valley!