JCF Launches Membership Campaign

The Jewelers Charity Fund for Children (JCF) has launched its first-ever membership drive to broaden support for its year-round mission of raising money for charities that help seriously ill children.

“While we get support from businesses and many people at high levels of the trade, we want to widen that to involve the entire industry,” says JCF executive director Pattie Light. “This is a campaign to establish a grassroots membership for JCF, so that all people in the industry can take pride in what the industry’s own charity does for children.”

The charities supported by JCF are St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tenn., the world’s largest pediatric cancer research center; The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses; and the Elisabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Research Network, which works on the prevention and treatment of HIV infection in infants and children.

“Heroes wanted.” JCF’s “Hero in Hope” membership drive is the brainchild of Victor Weinman, president of Design Works Group Ltd. (formerly ODI) and chairman of JCF until last October. “This is his legacy to the charity,” says Light. “He’s very passionate about what we do for children.” Weinman proposed the idea at last October’s meeting of the JCF board, which approved it.

The membership campaign officially kicks off June 1 during JCF’s annual “Facets of Hope” fundraising gala at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas during The JCK Show. Gary Gordon, chairman of Samuel Gordon Jewelers, Oklahoma City, Okla., is campaign chairman.

This is a membership drive for individuals only. (Almost 1,000 jewelry businesses and organizations already support JCF.) While the drive is focused on the jewelry trade, persons outside the industry are welcome to join as well.

Individuals can become JCF members in any of six categories (renewable annually): ruby heart, $1 a week or $52/year; bronze heart, $2/week, $104/year; silver heart, $3, $156/year; gold heart, $4, $205/year; platinum heart, $5, $260/year; or diamond heart, $10, $520. Because this campaign targets the industry at the grassroots level, JCF officials expect most new members will be in the $1 and $2 categories.

People can pay their annual membership fee in a variety of ways—as a payroll deduction, quarterly payments through a credit card, a check, “or in any way that works best for them,” says Light. “This isn’t a high-pressure sales campaign. We’re more interested in getting as many people in the industry involved as possible. This is for the children.”

Those joining during the campaign’s inaugural year will have their annual membership extended through the end of 2004.

Membership benefits include a “Certificate of Thanks,” a membership pin, a listing in JCF’s annual Facets of Hope Journal, recognition on the JCF Web site (www.jewelerscharityfund.org), and JCF badge ribbons for trade show usage.

JCF fundraisers include in-store counter canisters, sales of holiday greeting cards, and the annual $500-a-plate gala at The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas. “But $500 is too much for a lot of people in the industry to pay at one time,” notes Light. “Others said to us, ‘I’ve bought my holiday cards. How else can I support [JCF]?’ This campaign is a way for any person to be involved year ’round in what the jewelry trade does for children, and also to receive recognition for that involvement.”

Getting the word out. To promote the campaign, JCF has printed thousands of membership applications, which will be available at every industry event and show. Jewelers of America also planned to put them in The J Report, which goes out to JA’s 11,000 members. In addition, JCF has developed a PowerPoint presentation about membership and JCF’s charity work that companies can present to their staffs.

In a related story, JCF and the Plumb Club of New York State are collaborating on a joint project called “A Million Miles for a Million Smiles.” The Plumb Club has donated one million frequent flier miles (500,000 American Express Miles, 500,000 Marriott Rewards Points) to the industry charity. These were scheduled to be raffled at the Plumb Club Pavilion at The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas on May 30.

The Jewelers Charity Fund has raised more than $6.5 million in the past four years and aims to raise another $3.5 million this year. For more information, contact Pattie Light, Executive Director, Jewelers Charity Fund for Children, 2141 Alternate A1A South, Suite 440, Jupiter, FL 33477; (561) 744-3222, fax (561) 744-3235.