Winnipeg’s new CJA chair sets sights on record-setting campaign

Barry McArton

The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg is gearing up for its annual Combined Jewish Appeal (CJA) campaign launch on Sept. 8, which the organization hopes will help it raise a record-setting $6 million.

Barry McArton, this year’s CJA chair, brings a passion for the Jewish community and a solid track record in the not-for-profit sector to his new role. McArton retired nine years ago, after stints as executive director of both the Winnipeg and Vancouver symphony orchestras and CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.

The 2018-19 campaign raised over $5.8 million, on a goal of $5.7 million, but Federation has set its sights higher this year. McArton notes that the campaign kickoff on Super Sunday, Sept. 8, coincides with activities at the Asper Campus related to the Rady JCC’s celebration of its 100th anniversary.

The campaign chair points out that his cabinet is made up of prominent Jewish Winnipeggers, such as former chairs Gail Asper, Brian Klein and Steven Kroft, as well as Karen Lazareck, Joel Lazer, Peter Leipsic, Adam Levene, Mo Levy, Murray Palay, Bryan Klein and Joel Lazar.

Paula Parks continues as one of the co-chairs, along with Laura Diamond, of the Women’s Philanthropy campaign. Michael and Yael Silver are Ben-Gurion Society co-chairs, while Jessica Kraut is chairing the Lion of Judah Division and Samantha Morry is chairing the Young Adult Division.

McArton first became involved in Jewish community work 10 years ago, when he was invited to serve on the board of the Asper Jewish Community Campus. He later served as board president. “It is an honour to serve,” he says.

He was inspired to assume his new role, in part, by his first-ever trip to Israel with the Federation’s annual mission last fall – which he describes as “life-changing” – and his previous service as a member of the community’s allocations committee.

“It was incredible what the Federation’s 12 beneficiary agencies do,” he says. “I had no idea of the magnitude of service that agencies such as the Jewish Child & Family Service (JCFS), the Rady JCC, the schools and the others offer. I was also impressed by the passion that the people who work for the agencies have for what they do.”

McArton wants donors to know just how many Winnipeg Jews benefit from the work the Federation and its agencies do. He says that virtually every member of the community comes in contact with one or more of the agencies during the course of a year.

New CJA literature paints a picture of what McArton is trying to convey. For example, over 8,000 adults took in community cultural festivals, 1,600 newcomers were helped through JCFS settlement services, over 600 children received a Jewish education and more than 300 community members were able to access employment assistance.

A second brochure details how the Federation distributes the CJA funds raised each year.  Just under $900,000 is donors-designated, with the lion’s share of that going towards Israel and overseas projects. Another $600,000 is designated for national Jewish and Israel-related programs. And roughly $740,000 pays for Federation-sponsored outreach programs and services.

The largest share of the funds raised – $2.75 million – was allocated to the 12 beneficiary organizations, an increase of $35,000 from the year before.

“Many of our beneficiary agencies also receive government funding,” McArton says. “With government funding frozen over the past few years and the cost of living rising, our beneficiary agencies could use another $250,000 over this year’s allocations. We are hoping that through our new engagement strategy, we will be able to strike a nerve with people and hope that they increase their donations.”