Debra Steinbuch — How You Help
Fran and Craig Coleman to Lead Jewish Federation’s 2023 Annual Campaign
“We each grew up watching our parents involved in the Jewish community,” said Craig Coleman. “To us, when we were young, it was just about being Jewish. Little did we know that it was our parents giving back to the community by doing fundraising and ensuring that people had food on their table.” Craig and his wife Fran are longtime supporters of the Jewish community. Craig is from Cincinnati, while Fran moved here from the East Coast in 1991. “From our children to Craig’s great grandparents is five generations of his family in Cincinnati,” said Fran. And that legacy is just one of the reasons the couple has been so involved over the years, and why they have volunteered to lead the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati’s 2023 Annual Campaign.
The Jewish Federation’s annual campaign strengthens the community by raising dollars for our partner agencies to run programs that meet critical needs. This year, we want to be bold with our campaign. While continuing to support the variety of needs in the community, we also want to continue to move our community forward with innovation to keep our community strong, bring our community together, and continue to attract young Jewish talent to Cincinnati.
I sat down with Fran and Craig to discuss the 2023 Annual Campaign and their roles as cochairs. The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. —Debra Steinbuch, Interim Chief Development Officer, Jewish Federation of Cincinnati
Debra Steinbuch: You both have been so active in our community over the years, can you tell me where your volunteering began?
Fran Coleman: We were both involved in the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati Young Adult Division [formerly: Leadership Council], and developed volunteer and leadership skills through that. And it’s just been natural that we’ve participated in the campaigns and served on boards and in volunteer roles all of our adult life. We’re proud to be taking the responsibility for chairing the campaign for 2023.
Craig Coleman: I began my involvement with the Federation right out of college through Leadership Council, where I was Vice President of Campaign. That involvement led to serving on other boards, such as Jewish Vocation Service, as treasurer; and Adath Israel Congregation, as vice president; and chair of Create Your Jewish Legacy (CYJL).
DS: In all of your years volunteering, have you ever had an experience working together like you will be for the 2023 Annual Campaign?
CC: Years ago, we cochaired the Federation’s annual Super Sunday. More recently, when Fran served as a cochair of the Federation’s Planned Giving & Endowment Committee, I was the chair of Adath Israel’s CYJL team, which was among the most successful in the community.
DS: We’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel that is COVID-19. As things start to return to some version of normal, what do you see for the future of the annual campaign?
FC: Something we’ve learned during COVID-19 is that it’s great when we can get people together in person, but we’ve also seen that we can still achieve our campaign goals by using Zoom and other tools. So we’ve added another item to our toolbox for how we can connect with donors and people across the community to help them see where their dollars go and to keep them engaged in activities dealing with programming as well as giving.
We will continue to move the campaign forward. I don’t know if there’s going to be any significant, radical, new things, but we do know the only way to grow the campaign is through person-to-person conversations, and we try to make those as meaningful as possible—without making them transactional. We want people to feel good about their gifts because it’s what they want to do and how they make a difference. Our Jewish community continues to grow, and we need to grow with it. We need to be creative to attract young leaders, and we need to continue to bring the community together to help make Cincinnati a desirable place for Jews to live.
CC: Agreed. One thing that motivates me is our peers who have stepped up to chair the annual campaign before us. There are a lot of generous, talented and busy lay leaders in our community who have taken on this role and they have inspired us. I think it’s the right time for Craig and Fran Coleman.
FC: Chairing the annual campaign is an investment of time, but it makes sure that the things that are important to us are going to continue. It sets the foundation for weathering the storm, and community support helps develop Cincinnati and the Jewish world into a better place than it is today, while securing it for future generations.
CC: We want to attract people to be involved in the campaign; nobody does it because somebody is commanding them to. Most of the solicitors are like us—they want to help the Jewish community. We have a number of solicitors who have been doing this for dozens of years. It’s really amazing that they continue to be involved. The Federation development staff prepares materials and helps the process be as easy a process as possible. I see our role as making sure the volunteers are armed with good content to help keep people involved. We don’t want their interactions to just be a boring donation request—we want to give them the information to help engage the donor with the Federation’s mission.
FC: Being campaign cochairs is more than leading meetings. It’s continuing this culture where people voluntarily make their gifts and are interested in the community and seeing it be here for another 200 plus years as our predecessors helped to create the community we have today. It is a process that cannot be done by one team alone. It’s volunteers, it’s professional staff at the Federation, it’s a whole lot of people that get this important work done. We’re simply leading the effort and hopefully adding a few new things to keep people interested and involved and attracting new volunteers to the cause.
DS: Fran, what qualities will Craig bring to his role as campaign cochair?
FC: Craig is an organizational genius and brings a remarkable sense of Cincinnati history, campaign history and connections to many donors. He has just so many roots having grown up here! Relationships and relatable experiences are key to campaigns and successful fundraising.
DS: And Craig, what is going to make Fran a successful cochair?
CC: Fran is, in my opinion, the most dedicated campaign worker in Cincinnati. She multitasks, does so many things for her family, for our community, for the Federation, for other organizations. She is the most consistent Jewish communal leader I know, and I am always in awe of what she does.FC: I think our skills complement one another and are similar in some regards, but the fact that we know a lot of the volunteers who work on the campaign and a lot of the Federation staff is a plus. We love getting to meet new people and share with them why we are involved and talk about our mutual experiences and interests. Partnering on this will work nicely. Our focus is more about moving the needle and propelling the campaign forward and trying to evolve with the times. Over the 30 years of our volunteer careers, we’ve seen a lot of great changes. I’m excited to be doing this together, and to see all that we can accomplish as campaign cochairs. We want to make it interesting for those who are involved, and different than what came before. We want to inspire people stay involved for many years.
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