“Incredible Generosity” for 2020, But Some Are Fretting– What Will 2021 Look Like?


This text initially appeared in Jewish Insider.

The American Jewish group’s community of roughly 9,500 nonprofit organizations has largely prevented collapse throughout the COVID-19-spurred hunch that has precipitated many for-profit companies to close down or considerably shrink.

The federal authorities’s Paycheck Safety Program, which allowed companies and nonprofits to acquire forgivable loans in the event that they stored employees on payroll, resulted in August.

Making the distinction now, consultants say, are the American Jewish philanthropists who’ve stepped as much as help the nonprofit system. Foundations are dipping into their endowments to supply further funds to help camps, Jewish faculties, human companies businesses and others — properly past what they anticipated when initially planning their 2020 budgets.

Whereas the pandemic has led to struggles within the Jewish nonprofit group, together with a months-long shut-down of fee-for-service organizations like Jewish community centers and camps, with ensuing layoffs, furloughs and re-prioritization of funds, the most important worries lie forward.

“The true query is, what’s 2021 going to seem like? Everyone seems to be making it by means of 2020. However everybody could be very involved concerning the impression on 2021. I don’t know the place issues shall be,” stated Reuben Rotman, chair and CEO of the Community of Jewish Human Service Businesses, which represents 140 businesses offering meals, counseling companies, help for these with developmental and bodily disabilities, vocational help and extra.

“There have been reductions in staffing and companies. However proper now, our businesses by and enormous are being stored complete” with the assistance of presidency assets like PPP, and with help from philanthropists, Rotman advised Jewish Insider.

The worst fears — the collapse of the Jewish nonprofit group — haven’t come to cross, a minimum of to date. “The catastrophic state of affairs we feared was averted,” stated Andrés Spokoiny, president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Community. “Your entire camp system, human companies, JCCs, faculties, [were] in danger. It suffered rather a lot nevertheless it didn’t collapse. This could not make us complacent.”

Nobody is aware of how a lot, within the combination, American Jewish philanthropists have contributed to pandemic reduction, consultants say, however it’s important.

A brand new study by the Heart for Catastrophe Philanthropy discovered that American funders on the whole donated $11.9 billion general to coronavirus-related wants to date in 2020. This marks a powerful distinction to the impression on nonprofit organizations throughout the 2008-09 monetary disaster.

“Should you dial again to the recession 12 years in the past, philanthropy took a break. It went down within the brief time period. Between 2005 and 2010, philanthropy stayed flat,” stated Avrum Lapin, president of The Lapin Group, a Philadelphia-based consultancy. “On this disaster, philanthropy has just about stood up. To not say that organizations aren’t having a tricky time. It has not solely stayed present however checked out some systemic challenges and risen as much as meet them.”


The umbrella for North America’s 146 Jewish federations and community communities, every of which can be an umbrella for social companies, Jewish schooling and different businesses in its native space, is the Jewish Federations of North America.

“We’ve had 146 completely different emergency campaigns,” stated Eric Fingerhut, JFNA’s president and CEO. Jewish federations have “raised $175 million above and past their common annual campaigns,” particularly for pandemic help, he advised JI. “Federations made particular allocations to camps and human companies businesses to reply to the disaster within the second. It’s a second of unimaginable generosity and response.”

Jewish federations typically distribute some $3 billion yearly to the businesses they help domestically, in addition to abroad programming by means of the Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Company for Israel and different teams.

Because the early days of the pandemic, JFNA has been an organizer of philanthropy efforts to help Jewish nonprofits by means of the disaster. On Sept. 1 it announced a brand new matching grant program totaling $54 million to assist the severely impacted human companies discipline.

The Human Companies Aid Fund is the most recent of a lot of pandemic emergency funds and programs put in place since March by main Jewish funders and the organized Jewish group.

JFNA additionally oversees the Jewish Group Response and Affect Fund (JCRIF), which has supplied roughly $91 million in emergency reduction to Jewish nonprofits. Greater than $10 million of that has been distributed within the type of grants, and about $81 million as zero-interest loans, stated Felicia Herman, who directs the grant program. Funding has come from seven foundations together with the Aviv Basis, The Paul E. Singer Basis, the Lynn and Charles Schusterman Household Basis and the Wilf Household Basis.

To date this 12 months, the Schusterman Basis has spent $400 million addressing COVID-19-related wants and funding its common grantees, which embrace civic packages nationwide and Jewish organizations.

Of that, “a minimum of $10 million” has been designated as emergency funds for teams that do direct help, just like the Blue Card, which aids Holocaust survivors, stated Lisa Eisen, co-president of the Schusterman Basis. It gave $15 million to JCRIF and general this 12 months has upped its help to Jewish organizations by about 50 p.c over what it had deliberate, Eisen advised JI.


The pandemic has nonetheless taken a toll on a lot of Jewish nonprofit organizations. Revenue at fee-for-service businesses like JCCs — which make use of a complete of 40,000 folks — took a giant hit. Synagogues are at the moment tallying their Excessive Holy Day renewals. Philanthropic funding is down at some organizations, although typically within the single-digit share vary, which is in keeping with nationwide traits. The Nationwide Council of Nonprofits printed a examine exhibiting that particular person giving within the U.S. general was down 6% within the first quarter.

There have been important layoffs at Jewish group facilities across the nation. JFNA itself laid off 37 of its 180 staffers in Could. In April, Hillel Worldwide laid off or furloughed greater than 20 p.c of its employees.

J Avenue, the liberal Israel-focused lobbying group, reduce its $8 million funds by $1 million, Jeremy Ben-Ami, its president, advised JI, having saved a big sum of money by shifting the group’s conferences on-line. J Avenue acquired a forgivable PPP mortgage of $660,000 and a few tax credit, he stated, and has not wanted to put off or furlough any staffers. J Avenue’s 2020 funds of $8 million is balanced, Ben-Ami stated, and he expects it to develop barely for 2021. However, he cautioned, “I’m not able to declare victory, as a result of we now have not seen the complete impression” the pandemic could have on philanthropy. “The inventory market [strength] has in a means cushioned the blow, and we haven’t fairly seen the top of this story but,” he added.

The Zionist Group of America, a right-wing group led by Mort Klein, has not fared as properly. The group pushed its annual gala dinner from December to January 2021, after which to March, and Klein is unsure if it will likely be potential to carry the banquet in any respect.

“A handful” of its roughly two dozen employees positions needed to be reduce, he stated, although he didn’t present extra specifics concerning the layoffs or the group’s annual funds. A current ZOA marketing campaign in opposition to the Motion for Black Lives noticed the group obtain a lot of unanticipated donations, which Klein stated has helped to attenuate the fundraising downturn.

The left-wing New Israel Fund has skilled a blended image, CEO Daniel Sokatch advised JI. Unrestricted presents to NIF have been up 18 p.c by means of the top of July in comparison with the identical interval in 2019, he stated, however the variety of people donating is down 9 p.c. The most important drop in help has been from supporters in New York Metropolis, the place COVID-19 hit arduous early within the pandemic. A PPP mortgage of $927,000 allowed NIF to retain its U.S. employees (it additionally has employees in Israel), although all employees members have been pressured to take a short lived wage reduce and in Israel your complete employees was furloughed for a interval. Trying forward, with everybody persevering with to do business from home, Sokatch is contemplating dropping workplace area leases which are approaching their renewal dates, he stated.

Even amongst organizations which are staying afloat, the massive query is how lengthy they are going to be in a position to take action. The American Jewish Historic Society (AJHS), whose archives comprise some 30 million paperwork, added a further staffer, bringing the full-time worker rely to seven, stated Annie Polland, the group’s government director.

AJHS acquired a $130,000 PPP mortgage by means of the Small Enterprise Administration, which helped it retain employees by means of the spring and summer season. The group acquired what Polland known as a “lifesaver” grant of $205,000 from the Nationwide Endowment for the Humanities’ Coronavirus Help, Aid and Financial Safety (CARES) Act fund.

Whereas AJHS, like most public-facing Jewish organizations, shortly shifted to digital programming in what Polland stated was “a whirlwind adaptation to Zoom,” and the foundations that help its work haven’t lessened their funding, “we don’t know what 2021 goes to seem like,” she stated.

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Name for Human Rights has additionally fared comparatively properly by means of the pandemic, stated Rabbi Jill Jacobs, its government director. T’ruah has not wanted to put off or furlough employees and has even been in a position so as to add a full-time place and a part-time place to its roster of 10 full-time employees and 6 part-time employees, stated Jacobs. “Folks have been very beneficiant,” she advised JI. “Those that are nonetheless employed or not depending on a wage are extra motivated than ever to contribute as an ethical response to this disaster, in addition to to the foremost threats to democracy. We’ve specifically had a powerful response to our efforts to face up the deployment of federal brokers in Portland, OR, and the work of our rabbis who’ve been on the road there,” she stated.


With no finish to the pandemic in sight, funders and CEOs alike are grappling with the uncertainty of what the following 12 months will seem like, each by way of programming and fundraising.

“We’re coping with lots of uncertainty so we within the philanthropic group ought to proceed to be versatile, to dig deeply, perhaps deeper than would really feel comfy, and to assist nonprofits with state of affairs planning and different types of technical help,” Eisen advised JI. “The uncertainty makes it arduous to plan and funds at the same time as fundraising is anticipated to lower.”

The uncertainty impacts not solely planning for packages, but additionally making an attempt to funds for 2021.

Spokoiny advised JI that his greatest concern was the survival of what he known as the “second layer” Jewish organizations, like Jewish federations, faculties and group facilities.

As a result of the inventory market has continued to carry out properly, foundations whose cash is invested have “more cash than ever to offer,” stated Spokoiny. However “greater than 80% of the funding within the Jewish group, in greenback phrases, doesn’t come from main funders, however by people giving $1,000 to the scholarship fund at their day college.”

It’s that kind of grassroots donor whose capacity to offer is most susceptible to job loss, lack of authorities unemployment help, and a potential financial hunch.

T’ruah’s Jacobs famous: “If we do see a deep and lengthy recession, and if many donors discover themselves out of labor in December, we’re involved a few drop in donations, particularly as greater than half of our presents come from a broad base of small-dollar donors.”

In line with Eisen, “there are much more conversations about organizations becoming a member of forces in partnerships, or in mergers, of sharing belongings, buildings and employees, of synagogues coming collectively. There are various, many conversations occurring on the nationwide stage and the native stage.”

She famous that the Schusterman Basis has supplied funding by means of JCRIF, providing technical help with a guide to organizational leaders pursuing mergers.

“Not each establishment goes to outlive, nor ought to it,” stated Eisen. “It is a second to have a look at what our group must be sustainable, and that may embrace some robust and painful conversations.”

“I’m optimistic that our group can emerge stronger, however there shall be some painful choices alongside the best way.”


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