A Call to Action

Yesterday in New York, under the auspices of the Jewish Funders Network, thirty five of the largest Jewish foundations gathered for an emergency meeting to develop a plan that would anonymously help Jewish nonprofits affected by the year’s ever-growing financial mess and help restore the community’s faith in its values. With losses in the Jewish world estimated at $2.5 billion Mark Charendoff, JFN’s president, indicated those in attendance were determined to “try to reverse some of the harm and try to repair some of the damage.”

In announcing the meeting the JFN had this to say:

“We are all shaken in the wake of the economic crisis and the recent Madoff scandal which has disproportionately affected the Jewish funding community and in turn dozens of Jewish non-profit organizations in the United States, Israel and the Former Soviet Union. Some foundations and funders have seen their investments evaporate over night and grantees are struggling to determine where the funds will come from to support their essential programming. Some of you were counting on funding partners who are no longer there.”

During the three-hour meeting the foundations decided to set up a clearinghouse to allow nonprofits to share resources, publicize their needs and “sound the alarm” if they are in danger. The foundations will also establish a pro-bono group of accountants, lawyers, development professionals and strategic planners to provide expert help to those organizations who are currently resource challenged. Additionally, they will begin a process to raise money that will help create bridge financing to assist those organizations (nonprofits and foundations) more immediately affected.

“It’s like putting out the fire in the kitchen of the Titanic while the ship is going down,” said Felicia Herman, the executive director of Natan, speaking about the fallout from the Madoff related losses in the midst of a larger global financial crisis.

Here’s what The Washington Post had to say, Jewish Charities Scramble to Cover Losses to Trade.