from the UJC:

The ongoing economic downturn has directly affected many Jewish federations and the agencies they support, and the recent allegations regarding the Bernard Madoff scandal has only intensified the impact.

The Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. federations say they have lost millions of dollars in the financial scam, with portions of their endowment funds invested with Madoff. However, even those federations not directly affected are seeing some major donors suffering personal losses.

“There’s no question a number of our large and medium donors were hurt by this,” Jerry Levin, chair of UJA-Federation of New York, told Bloomberg News. “I think the list is going to be considerably bigger.”

No one knows yet how serious the system-wide damage will be. Right now, UJC is surveying federation endowment professionals and others to get an accurate read on the system’s financial exposure and to determine how to respond. No UJC assets were invested in Madoff’s funds.

UJC has already refocused some of the program for its 2009 Investment Institute in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Feb. 2-4, to deal with investment risk management, fiduciary responsibility, governance, and best practices, all of which will help communities better position their finances for the future.

Shortly after the investment conference, UJC and federation leaders will meet for the Federation Leadership Institute, to focus on building the UJC/Federation system through a strategic plan. Part of this discussion will focus on the economic downturn and how it affects federations.

UJC is also convening experts in various fields to help federations work their way through this difficult time. UJC’s Economic Crisis Task Force is planning a series of teleconferences with people from inside and outside the federation system who can offer critical, high-level advice to support federations in a variety of areas to better meet the economic challenges we face.

UJC is working hard to help the federation system move ahead, not only to deal with the Madoff fallout and the economic crisis, but to better plan for building our community for the future.