Michael Landau was born and raised in Ottawa. After living in Toronto for nine years, he decided to come home to Ottawa to settle down. A seasoned fundraiser, Michael dedicates most of his efforts to raising money to help the community as a whole. Michael has extensive history Chairing major community fundraisers such as Golf Tournaments and the community Walk-a-Thon. Currently he is the past chair of the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation (OJCF) and sits on the board as well as the fundraising committee.
How I got started
I first started volunteering while at dental school in Toronto. I volunteered to canvass dental students for the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) campaign. It seemed a natural fit for me as my parents had always been heavily involved in community efforts, so when I was approached I didn’t think twice about it.
After moving back to Ottawa, I jumped right into canvassing for the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s Annual Campaign. Of course, as I got more involved, people would approach me with other volunteer opportunities: “Can you do this for the shul?”; “Can you help with that for the school?” Since I had the time and energy, I found myself volunteering in a variety of community efforts.
Driven by overall community success
I don’t have any one particular passion point. I’m driven by the community as a whole and hope to see success in all aspects of Jewish life in Ottawa. My concern is to see that all the Jewish agencies are properly funded, managed and maintained. The more funding there is for the community as whole, the better off our community will be.
This is why I have always leaned toward Foundation and Federation, which are focused on a more holistic approach to the community through fundraising, distribution of funds and educating people about the community as a whole and all the wonderful programs and services available.
Finding my fundraising groove
Back in my years in dental school, I had a Jewish classmate who I canvassed for the annual campaign. When I asked him to make a donation, he threw a $2 bill at me and said “Here, now don’t waste my time”. I thought I could do two things here. One, get upset at his reaction and confront him on it, or, educate him on the importance of a gift of any size – even those $2 are contributing to something.
This experience and realization has stayed with me and made me a better canvasser. It is so important to acknowledge that people have their own things going on and when I approach someone, I want to help them to understand what it’s all about so they can feel good about giving.
After so many years, it’s become somewhat addictive to see how good people feel knowing that their contribution will impact so many people. This positivity is contagious and I end up feeling amazing after every discussion, knowing that I helped someone realize their philanthropic goals.
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