Endowment endeavors

HIAS launches standalone foundation to manage its endowment

The launch of the HIAS Foundation comes as the organization has seen major financial growth in recent years

The immigration-focused nonprofit HIAS launched a standalone foundation on Tuesday to build a permanent endowment that is meant to sustain the 120-year-old American Jewish organization into the future, the group announced.

Dubbed the HIAS Foundation, this separate legal entity was created following recent significant financial growth for the Jewish nonprofit organization, which in 2017 was a $30 million entity working in 10 countries, and now is a $200 million entity in 23 countries.

“As HIAS has been thinking about its future, it was decided that it’s time to create an endowment. There’s a need to help sustain HIAS into the future,” Jonathan Boiskin, the inaugural executive director of the foundation, told eJewishPhilanthropy

HIAS — originally known as the Hebrew Immigrants Aid Society, but which now goes only by its acronym — hopes that this separate foundation will allow it to maintain and grow its financial resources.

The position is personal for Boiskin, who received services from HIAS when he immigrated to the U.S. from South Africa. He comes to the HIAS Foundation following a 30-year career in philanthropy, most recently having served as executive director of Friends of Israel Sci-Tech Schools. Prior to that, he helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for organizations including Jewish federations, Drexel University, Rutgers University, NYU Langone Medical Center, Birthright Israel Foundation and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. 

Alongside Boiskin, the foundation will be run by five board members: Lee Gordon, board chair; Judith Friedman, secretary/treasurer; Harley Ungar; Neil Moss and René Lerer. Two of the members are also on HIAS’ board. 

“We’ve already had lots of donors,” Boiskin said. “People have committed their assets in their estate plan through their will to support our work, [including] for economic development of refugees in Israel and relocation and resettlement in the U.S.,” he continued. “We’re encouraging people to give to areas that are important to them for displaced people around the world.” 

The HIAS Foundation launch comes as the United Nations estimates that there are 117 million displaced people around the world. “If we can help be a small player in helping HIAS be ready to respond to that displacement, that’s a good thing,” Boiskin said.