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Sunday, October 4, 2015

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Federation endowment funds show big increase

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Endowment assets managed by foundations linked to North American Jewish federations increased by 7.6 per cent to $14.3 billion in 2012, according to a survey released earlier this month.

The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) survey compiled figures from 64 communities, including five Canadian cities that all enjoyed an increase in endowment assets.

Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Winnipeg account for more than $690 million of North American endowment assets, which include unrestricted funds, donor-directed funds and legacy gifts.

“There were a couple of difficult years with the global [economic recession] going on, but right now we’re very pleased with our investments,” said Andrea Freedman, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa.

“We are fortunate to have had some thoughtful and purposeful leaders a generation before us who took great pains to plan for the future of the Jewish community,” she added.

According to the survey, the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation’s endowment assets totalled $67.8 million in 2012, up by $6.3 million over 2011; the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto enjoyed an $8.4 million increase to about $216 million, and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Vancouver was worth $31.8 million, up $4.3 million.

The Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal had about $317 million, an increase of $31 million over 2011, executive director Robert Kleinman told The CJN. He said the survey incorrectly reported a $78-million increase.

The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba’s 2012 financial statement reported endowment funds worth $80 million, which contradicts the JFNA survey’s finding that they were worth $57 million. The foundation’s endowment funds were worth $76.5 million in 2011, according to its financial statements.

Ronit Holtzman, vice-president of planned giving and endowments with the Toronto foundation, explained in an email to The CJN that a “significant number of [the Toronto foundation’s 750 individual] funds were created to support the annual United Jewish Appeal campaign. Each year, income from these funds is granted to the United Jewish Appeal campaign.”

Kleinman said that although a portion of the foundations’ funds goes to federations to allocate as they choose, most of the money is directed by donors to other charities, both Jewish and secular.

Ottawa’s Freedman said the growth the Jewish Canadian foundations are experiencing comes from a new way of doing things.

“What we’re doing is taking a donor-centric approach to fundraising, so when we’re doing an ‘ask’ for the annual campaign, we’re very often including a ‘planned-giving ask’ incorporated into that,” Freedman said.

Freedman said efforts are being made to accommodate the needs and wishes of potential donors.

“We might look at the donor and talk about a supplementary giving opportunity, so if their particular passion is Jewish education, that’s where the conversation is going to take us. I do think fundraising has changed in that it is much more about a personal relationship with the donor, and it’s much more about helping them realize their philanthropic aspirations.”

Kleinman said it might be the donor-centric approach “that has led to a greater appreciation by our Montreal Jewish community of the possibilities within the foundation. Most of our donors understand that we are going to take care of them, and it’s not about us, it’s about them.”

Montreal Jewish donors might also see the foundation as “a vehicle to help with their philanthropy… We have more people over the last few years who have decided to work with us, I guess, because of our sophistication financially and tax-wise,” he said.

Kleinman attributes the foundation’s $31-million increase in 2012 to Montreal’s “traditional, philanthropic community… We grew up with this, and we’ve had great leadership and great commitment and a fairly cohesive Jewish community. People feel Jewish, and they feel committed to charity.”

In Toronto, Holtzman said that over the past decade, the foundation began working with outside advisers, including wealth managers, insurance professionals, lawyers, and accountants.

“We are networking closely with a larger group of advisers to connect with members of the Toronto Jewish community and talk to them about the opportunities and the benefits of opening a fund at the Jewish foundation,” she said.

“The wonderful growth here… bodes well for the future.”

Holtzman added that since the foundation began focusing on opening new funds and expanding its planned-giving program, the foundation’s assets have grown from about $100 million in 2003 to more than $500 million in assets and planned gifts today.

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