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Jewish Foundation of Manitoba aims for $150 million


After doubling its capital base over the last 10 years, the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba (JFM) is aiming to reach even higher and increase its assets by 50 per cent to $150 million.

In order to do this, the board has developed a new strategic plan, CEO Marsha Cowan reported at the organization’s annual general meeting on June 15.

“We started working on our new strategic plan last fall,” Cowan said. “We felt that we needed this plan in order to help us chart our way forward. Successful organizations regularly examine their performance and set meaningful targets and goals. They anticipate challenges and adapt accordingly.”

At the AGM, Cowan, who has headed the JFM for 10 years, reported that the foundation’s current capital base is $104 million. Last year it received bequests totalling $1.3 million. The largest was $1.1 million from the estate of the late Irma Penn.

In developing its new plan, the JFM board considered best practices in foundation governance, community demographics and trends in local Jewish philanthropy.

“We identified two areas to focus on: governance and fund development,” Cowan said.

For fund development, the board decided the JFM needed a formal marketing plan in order to accentuate growth. As a result, the board has approved the establishment of a multi-year fund development plan.

“We intend to better showcase donor support in ways that highlight the considerable support that the foundation enjoys in the community,” Cowan said. “We want to give all stakeholders the sense of being connected to a unique and valuable organization that practises sound fiscal integrity, is accountable and transparent.”

As for governance, the new plan calls for reducing the size of the JFM board and establishing two new standing committees, one for development and gift planning, the other for distribution.

“These changes will allow us to strategically prepare for the future, ensuring the sustainability of our community for generations to come,” Cowan said.

She also said the JFM will be increasing the size of the staff as the foundation continues to grow. Two new employees were recently added to bring the number of employees to 12.

“We are expanding the size of our staff in our finance department so that our CFO, Ian Barnes, will be able to spend more time working on strategies for growth,” Cowan said. “Donors are more sophisticated today and more interested in the financial side of things.”

In 2015, she said, the foundation awarded more than $3.3 million in designated and undesignated grants to 238 organizations, as well as 48 scholarships totalling more than $123,000.

The JFM was founded in 1964 when 119 Jewish community leaders came together and pledged $100 each to create a new foundation to ensure the long-term future of Winnipeg’s Jewish community. The seed had been planted a few months before by three local businessmen – Joe Halprin and brothers Abe and Sam Werier.

“The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba is the second-largest community foundation in Manitoba and one of the largest Jewish foundations per capita in Canada,” Cowan said. “Other foundations look to us as models.”

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