Dancing Around The Downturn
Jewish federations and foundations nationwide
struggle and juggle to keep programs funded.
Jewish Renaissance Media
previous years came back this year and last
because of the crisis in Israel. "Whenever
there's a clear, understandable need, people
simply respond generously," Hoffman said.
Federations hold roughly $6 billion in
endowments that are used to support pro-
grams, he said, and those funds have been
hit by the market slide. Some federations
have cut internal spending while others
have dipped into the endowment principal
to make up for the losses. Generally, they
won't pull back on allocations unless its
absolutely necessary, Hoffman said.
In the foundation world, it's difficult to
say how giving this year will shake out.
The 2001 2002 federation campaigns for
Israel probably diverted dollars away from
domestic causes, said Michael Charendoff,
president of the Jewish Funders Network, a consor-
tium of 900 foundations and individual donors who
give money to everything from Israeli social service
agencies to Save the Whales campaigns. And the
interest in assisting Israel is intense.
Earlier this month, a group of 50 philanthropists
associated with the Jewish Funders Network met in
the Hamptons in New York to cook up strategies for
helping Israel, whether as political advocates here or
as direct donors to social service agencies there.
Charendoff said the time was spent less in coming
to conclusions and more in discussing creative ways
to show Israel how strong support is among
One of the projects that will come out of the
he sharp downturn in the nation-
al economy and the two-year
slump in the stock market are
changing the shape of American
Jewish philanthropy — making donors and
foundations more particular, as they try to
avoid cutting overall program support.
Foundation and federation officials, con-
sultants and individual donors say that
tzedakah is so deeply ingrained in Jewish
culture that the overall level of gifts in the
past year has not slid as precipitously as it
has for secular charities.
But they note that the need to keep funds
flowing to an embattled Israel could mean there will
be less for domestic causes next year when new
budgets take effect.
"There's a sour mood with the situation in Israel,
the financial markets, and psychologically, too," said
Herb Tobin, a fund-raising consultant in Boston.
"By and large, people are maintaining their past
contributions, but they're hesitant to take on new
Tobin, who advises the Boston-based Partnership
for Excellence in Jewish Education, a group of foun-
dations that funds and fosters Jewish day schools,
said that in the past three to five months, day
schools have had to work harder to convince federa-
tions and grant-makers to look their way.
They are like other causes close to home that may
need to work harder to convince givers of their
virtues in the coming year.
The forecast for the year ahead is mixed. Federation
campaigns that ended in June were up by a collec-
tive $10 million this year — above and beyond the
$311 million raised in emergency fund-raising for
Israel, said United Jewish Communities CEO and
President Stephen Hoffman. The New York City-
based UJC represents 150 Jewish federations in
He speculated that people who hadn't donated in
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