How the Jewish Community Foundation Builds Community

by Alene G. Sussman


A recent article and counterpoint in the StarTribune discussed the question of “What are community foundations doing to help build community?” As a Federation donor, you are already familiar with the community impact our Federation has through its annual campaign, allocations and programming, but did you know that our community has its own foundation, the Jewish Community Foundation of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation (JCF)?

The JCF strengthens our community and helps build a better world through tikkun olam. As one of the largest vehicles for Jewish charitable giving in the Upper Midwest, the JCF provides the long-term financial underpinnings that ensure a strong, sustainable and vibrant community. The JCF currently manages and administers more than $124 million in assets for more than 1,000 fund holders, consisting of individuals, families, and Jewish organizations in our community. All while delivering market-comparable returns and by steering our competitive administrative fees back into the Jewish community – a type of double mitzvah!  The JCF is, by far, the largest and most active charitable asset that focuses on Jewish community and life in the Twin Cities.

For over 40 years, the JCF has been helping and partnering with fund holders from all walks of life to build lasting legacies as philanthropists through self-directed, tax-efficient charitable funds created at the JCF. These funds are the vehicles through which our fund holders give to the charities they care about today, into the future, and after they are gone. Importantly, we also serve as a conduit or match-maker between our fund holders’ charitable interests and the critical needs in our Jewish community.

Over the past five years alone, the JCF has partnered with our fund holders to send more than $31 million to organizations and causes around the world that are near-and-dear to their hearts and are consistent with the charitable mission of Federation. In fiscal year 2016-2017, we helped them distribute more than $12 million in grants to a variety of Jewish and non-Jewish nonprofits.

So, to answer the questions posed in the StarTribune’s article, here is how our JCF is helping build community:

  • Giving. Through helping our fund holders give to causes through a Jewish lens – here in our local community and globally;

  • Connecting. Leveraging over 90 years of expertise to provide research on the local and global Jewish community, and the institutions that they are comprised of, to help our donors connect to the causes they most deeply about;

  • Sustaining. Partnering with a dozen local Jewish organizations to manage and grow their endowment dollars to help sustain them well-into the future for our grandchildren, and their grandchildren’s children.

  • Impacting. Providing opportunities for individuals, families and other groups of people to give independently or to come together to give collectively, including towards the current needs of our local Jewish organizations.

  • Growing. Always striving to be the best foundation we can be and to provide new services for our fund holders, including growing as a convener, collaborator, innovator, and supporter of our fund holders, their families, and our local and global organizations.

Why do donors open a fund with our JCF instead of opening one at a national financial institution? Our donors choose the JCF because of our presence in the community. Because they want to work with a foundation that is just as committed to our community as our donors are. They trust our JCF staff to provide them with beneficial advice grounded in the JCF’s and Federation’s experience, expertise, and connection to this community, and the greater global Jewish community. Our donors know that we have our Jewish community’s best interests at heart in everything that we do.

This is how our JCF is helping build community.

Shabbat Shalom,

 Alene G. Sussman
Jewish Community Foundation Director

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