Women's American ORT Inc.
Headquarters: 250 Park Avenue South, Suite 600, New York, NY 10003
Web Site: www.waort.org
Mission: Women’s American ORT is a national fundraising organization that strengthens the worldwide Jewish community by empowering people through technological and vocational education. WAO is the single largest contributor to ORT, which educates nearly 300,000 students each year.
History: WAO was founded in 1927 in Brooklyn to raise funds for European Jews after World War I. WAO’s mission has evolved into providing ORT schools and programs throughout the world with the financial resources and leadership vital to ORT’s efforts. These programs and initiatives have evolved as the needs and demographics of constituents have changed, from Holocaust survivors to Ethiopian Jews who came en masse to Israel in the 1980s to Russian Jews after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Interesting Tidbit: Founded in Tzarist Russia in 1880, “ORT” is an acronym for a string of Russian words — Obshestvo Remeslenofo Zemledelcheskofo Truda — that means The Society for Trades and Agricultural Labor. Today, ORT is generally understood to stand for Organization for Educational Resources and Technological Training, but the acronym commonly stands alone.
- 55 full-time employees
- $3.8MM annual operating budget
- $14.5MM total donated income
Structure of Development Department: The chief development officer oversees all aspects of the organization’s annual campaigns, working with the director of special campaigns and institutional giving, the director of fund development operations, and the director of planned giving.
Development Philosophy: ORT’s story sells itself. It’s our job to get it out.
Biggest Fundraising Challenges: 1. Putting a new face on an 80-year-old organization. 2. Serving an older membership while attracting the next generation of supporters.
What Works: Using the wide scope of ORT’s projects to connect with donors’ individual interests, such as Israel, Jewish continuity, education and technology. Offering recognition societies for contributors at various levels of giving, including one featuring a new three-year pledge campaign. Reaching out to new support through direct-mail acquisition.