The next Women’s Philanthropy Campaign chair will be thinking about fundraising, because that’s an important part of the role. She’ll have an advantage – she already knows deeply how fundraised dollars are spent.
Sara Hermanoff will serve as the Milwaukee Jewish Federation’s 2022 Women’s Philanthropy Campaign chair. She’s already volunteered in other ways, including serving as Community Planning and Allocations Committee chair since 2017, which means she’s worked on how fundraised dollars are spent.
“What’s unique for me is I come from the community planning and allocations side where we decide how to invest donor dollars and I’ve been volunteering in that realm for over ten years,” Hermanoff said. “I really trust the process.”
She’s seen how hard staff works, she said. She said she sees Jewish values at play in the process. And she’s been in key meetings where the discussion was: “What is a successful review of an agency that receives an allocation from the Annual Campaign? Why are we doing it? What does it mean for our donor and for Milwaukee Jewish Federation?”
“I’m excited to take everything I’ve learned in community planning and allocations as a volunteer over the last ten years and apply it to Women’s Philanthropy.”
Hermanoff said she believes in remembering that people’s Jewish journeys have different starting points and different giving levels. A $36 check from one person can be just as meaningful as a check for far more from another, she said.
In planning and allocations work, where funding recommendations are made, Hermanoff said people are careful to set aside personal biases, to be good listeners and to have honest and open conversations. The view among allocations volunteers and professionals is that every dollar donated is important, she said.
“I know the process,” she said. “I know how the kishke is made and I also know how carefully we choose the people who are in the kitchen making it.”
That’s going to give her “a great comfort level” for asking people for contributions, she said.
Hermanoff and her husband, Mark, have three adult sons. David is in graduate school at Northwestern University, Robbie is an aerospace engineer, and Bennett is a freshman at Tulane University. All three attended Milwaukee Jewish Day School and were involved in local Jewish activities. The family belongs to Congregation Shalom.
Hermanoff has been a Pomegranate and, this year, she became a Lion, which represents progressive levels of Federation giving. She co-chairs the Crisis Response Team with Joan Lubar, which oversees allocations from The Fund for Jewish MKE.
“That fund was specifically related to COVID Jewish needs,” she said. “I’ve seen how generous our community is when it comes to understanding the needs of others.”
From that she learned “how quickly and effectively” the Federation staff works. Miryam Rosenzweig, president and CEO of Milwaukee Jewish Federation, “set the tone and everyone hit the ground running,” Hermanoff said.
“I’m just pleased to be a small part of it. It’s really not about me. It’s about the Federation.”