Mishloach Manot with a Mission: Raising Funds and Spirits
By Menachem Lubinsky, Lubicom CEO
The marketing of Mishloach Manot packages is in full swing as a large number of not-for-profit charities seek to capture a lion’s share of the lucrative market. With Purim falling on March 21st, the organizations hope to sell tens of thousands of the multiple packages they offer.
The organizations compete against the prepared gift baskets sold by kosher supermarkets, major sites like Oh Nuts and even Amazon, and the traditional homemade packages – some families prefer creating their own themes and involving children in the design and preparation of the packages.
Many organizations rely on volunteers to prepare and even sell their packages. Fundraising experts say that the Mishloach Manot program fulfills several purposes. They say that although raising badly needed cash is what often motivates the campaigns, it is not all about the money. An important by-product is that it energizes volunteers and frequently draws new members into the organization. They also feel that it helps keep the organizations relevant and helps enormously with branding. Imagine people saying: “Oh yes, Organization A is where I get my Mishloach Manot from.” Some of the organizations ship packages worldwide, including several that focus on sending packages to Israel.
Yachad, a global organization dedicated to the needs of Jewish individuals with disabilities and ensuring their inclusion in Jewish life, has a subsidiary called Yachad Gifts. The store sells a variety of themed kosher gift baskets from their store and, more recently, via their website (https://yachadgifts.com/).
Yachad Gifts believes its kosher gift basket program is part of its mission which includes providing vocational training and employment to individuals with developmental disabilities. The Yachad Gifts members work volunteer or paid positions in the gift basket hub in Brooklyn and perform such tasks as stocking inventory, production, packaging, shipping, data entry, sales and customer service.
The International Young Israel Movement (IYIM) – Israel region (www.iyim.org.il) raises funds to distribute 9,000–10,000 Mishloach Manot packages to IDF soldiers. The packages are accompanied by letters and pictures from Jewish day school students from around the world, including the US, Canada. England, Australia, Hong Kong, and other countries. Says Executive Director Mush Meyer, “These letters sometimes warm the hearts of the soldiers more than the Mishloach Manot fill their stomachs.” He adds that it gives people the added satisfaction of having connected with an IDF soldier in some remote location in Israel.
Some of the organizations prepare elaborate catalogs that they mail to large mailing lists. But according to one fundraising expert, a good Mishloach Manot campaign can yield at least $50,000 in profit, which makes it extremely worthwhile for the organizations. Whether for Chabad organizations, Keren Aniyim, Tomchei Shabbos or the local yeshiva, running a Mishloach Manot program is well worth the effort.
Perrie, a volunteer with a local yeshiva, says the Mishloach Manot program is a “win-win” for everyone and “fully within the spirit of Purim.” She adds: “It’s an ideal way to involve people in a very worthwhile charitable endeavor and the bottom line is good.”