Outgoing Jewish Foundation Chair Eric Winograd (left) with incoming Chair Richard Yaffe

By BERNIE BELLAN
Despite the fact that financial markets were quite volatile in 2018, the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba was still able to distribute more money – to both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations in the 2018 fiscal year, than it had in the previous year – an increase of $13,055 from $4,545,739 in 2017 to $4,558,794 in 2018.

 

 


That was one of the highlights of the Foundation’s Annual General Meeting, which was held Wednesday, June 19, in the adult lounge of the Asper Campus.
What was also noteworthy about the meeting was that there was no CEO present. Ever since the sudden removal of Tara Fainstein as CEO last October – after less than a year on the job, the position has remained vacant.
Despite previous attempts to obtain an answer from JFM Board Chair Eric Winograd as to whether the Board has found a new CEO yet, he still remained steadfast in not giving any further information as to the progress of the search at the AGM.
When asked by audience member Laurence Cohen whether he had any information to disclose about a successor to Fainstein, Winograd replied: “We’re closer than we were a month ago. We’re not giving out a lot of information” – to which, Cohen responded, “that much is obvious”.


Still, the fact that the JFM seems to have continued to run smoothly is a testament not only to its capable administrative staff, led by Chief Financial Officer Ian Barnes, but also to the caliber of volunteers from the community who serve not only on the Board, but on its various committees.
As outgoing Chair Winograd handed over the chairmanship of the Board to incoming Chair Richard Yaffe, he noted that the JFM had undergone some turbulence – in addition to not having a CEO for a good portion of the year, financial markets had put a major dent in the Foundation’s revenues by the end of 2018.
In the JFM annual report, Barnes noted that “through the first quarter of 2019 the market mostly recovered.” However, Barnes did add that “the short-term volatility continues”.
Finance Committee member Sean Shore noted that the total investment portfolio of the Foundation stood at over $117 million as of Dec. 31, 2018, which was an increase of almost $3.5 million from the previous year.
Yet, Shore noted, the increase in investments was attributable to a major increase in contributions to the JFM in 2018: over $7.5 million. Had it not been for the growth in the amount contributed to the JFM, the Foundation would not have been able to continue increasing the total value of its grants – as it has now each year since the recession of 2008.


One other item in the JFM’s statements stood out: An increase in administrative and operating expenses from $1,527,309 in 2017 to $1,741,367 in 2018 – an over $200,000 increase.
I asked Ian Barnes whether this quite large increase could be attributable to a severance payment made to departed CEO Tara Fainstein. Barnes replied that he had “no comment”.
Other highlights of the annual report include:
• 82 new funds established, including nine new bar/bat mitzvah funds; two new Women’s Endowment Funds; and 32 Book of Life signers.
• $156,350 in scholarships awarded to 74 students
• $32,839 distributed in camperships
• $3,879,401 in designated grants distributed
• $679,393 in undesignated grants distributed
• the distribution rate rose to 4.2% from 4%, which is the rate it had been the previous few years. (According to Ian Barnes, the distribution rate is based on a formula that takes into account the average three-year market value of the Foundation’s investments, along with certain other factors. When I noted that the distribution rate had fallen to 3.5% following the 2008 recession, Barnes also pointed out that, prior to the recession, the Foundation distribution rate had stood at 5%.)
In looking at the total number of grants allocated by the Foundation in 2018, there were 219 different organizations that received designated grants, and over 50 organizations and individuals that received undesignated grants.