The New York Jewish Week is out with their annual supplement on Charitable Giving; some highlights:
[Leonard Glickman, CEO of the Foundation of Philanthropic Funds responding to the question, How has the Jewish philanthropic world changed, post-Madoff?]
I would set large gifts aside from overall giving. A lot of nonprofits rely heavily on major gifts. A true test is not the contribution of major donors, although that’s important and terrific, but how has general community reacted to giving. A surprisingly large amount of bequests have come from donors who gave relatively small gifts but were loyal to the organization. When organizations get the call from the trustee of the estate, they often go, “Who?”
As the economic news begins to turn, one industry that may be least likely to see positive changes anytime soon is the arts. With its heavy reliance on charitable donations and endowment returns, arts institutions, like museums and smaller organizations like not-for-profit theater troupes, appear to be getting comfortable with a new reality: making do on less.
Hadassah and most other Jewish charities probably don’t face accusations of knowing participation, but they are still worried, and with good cause. When Picard comes knocking, they will find they have little in the way of legal defenses. But despite Picard’s public statement that he has a legal duty to recover withdrawals, he is empowered to exercise some discretion, and to consider the hardship that might be caused. Individuals and charities that acted in good faith – for example by withdrawing moneys to pay living expenses or operating costs – innocently relied on what they believed they had in their Madoff accounts.
Picard has stated that he is not unsympathetic to these Madoff investors, but he has been silent as to what criteria he will employ when deciding what to do with charities like Hadassah, whose long-term financial planning has been upended, and of the potential for these suits, whose planning is still up in the air. One can only hope that Picard will consider the level of damage already done to such investors when he decides whom to go after, and for how much.