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April 13, 2019

Where Does $100 to the Jewish Federations of North America Go?

by Anne Paddock

The Jewish Federations of North American (JFNA) is a New York City-based 501 (c) (3) that represents 148 federations, more than 300 network communities and 30 Jewish community foundations (that are separately incorporated).  With 178 employees, JFNA is primarily engaged in fundraising and awarding grants (primarily to United Israel Appeal – a wholly owned subsidiary organization that files a separate Form 990, and the Joint Distribution Committee).


In 2017, JFNA raised $261 million which primarily came from contributions ($238 million of which $2.5 million were government grants), program service revenue ($19 million), and gain on the sale of assets and investment income ($4 million).

Expenses totaled $261 million and can be viewed two ways:  by broad general category (grants, program services, fundraising, and management) or by specific line item category (i.e.grants, compensation, office-related, travel and conferences, fees for services, etc). Both ways provide beneficial information with the latter approach providing more detail on how revenue was spent.

Expenses by Broad General Category

The $261 million in expenses were categorized as follows:

  • $214 million (82% of revenue):  Grants
  • $ 35 million (13% of revenue):  Program Services
  • $ 10 million (4% of revenue):  Management
  • $  2 million (1% of revenue):  Fundraising

Using the above information, $100 in revenue was spent as follows:

$100:  Revenue

-$ 82:  Grants

-$ 13:  Program Services

-$  4:  Management

-$  1:  Fundraising

-$  0:  Revenue Remaining

As illustrated above, $82 out of every $100 in revenue was used for grants, followed by $13 out of every $100 for program services.

Expenses by Specific Line Item Category

The $261 million in expenses were allocated as follows:

  • $214 million (82%of revenue):  Grants
  • $ 24 million (9% of revenue):  Compensation-related expenses
  • $ 9 million (3% of revenue):  Fees for Services (primarily other fees – no detail provided)
  • $  5 million (2% of revenue):  Office-related expenses
  • $  5 million (2% of revenue):  Travel and Conferences
  • $  3 million (1% of revenue):  Missions
  • $  1 million (1% of revenue):  Advertising and Promotion

Using the above information, $100 in revenue was spent as follows:

$100:  Revenue

-$  9:  Compensation-Related expenses

-$  3:  Fees for Services

-$  2:  Office-Related Expenses

-$  2:  Travel and Conferences

-$  1:  Missions

-$  1:  Advertising and Promotion

-$ 18:  Total Expenses

$ 82:  Revenue Remaining

-$ 82:  Grants

$   0:  Revenue Remaining

As illustrated above JFNA spent $18 out of every $100 on expenses related to running the organization and $82 out of every $100 on grants.  The largest overhead expense is for compensation for the 178 employees who were provided $24 million which equates to an average compensation of $135,000. The ten most highly compensated employees were reported to be:

  • $692,771:  Gerrald B Silverman, President and CEO
  • $400,408:  Mark Gurvis, EVP
  • $353,253:  Becky Caspi, Director General Israel Office
  • $323,896:  William Daroff, SVP
  • $295,059:  Renee Rothstein, SVP
  • $236,281:  Pamela A Zaltsman, CFO ($59,070 was from United Israel Appeal, a related org)
  • $235,374:  Elissa Maier, VP
  • $220,767:  Beth Mann, VP
  • $217,329:  David Kessel, Associate VP
  • $211,204:  Kimberlee Fish, Associate VP


JFNA awarded $214 million in grants in 2017, most of which ($204.8 million) went to two organizations:

  • $155.3 million:  United Israel Appeal for immigration absorption, youth care, and emergency relief in Israel
  • $ 49.5 million:  Joint Distribution Committee for humanitarian relief and Jewish renewal and identity programs throughout the world.

The above organizations are classified as domestic organizations but it is important to point out the above organizations passed the funds through, primarily to Israel.

JFNA reported making 57 grants greater than $5,000 to 57 domestic 501 (c) (3)’s and government organizations. The two largest are listed above. The next five largest domestic grants were made to:

  • $930,000:  Service Community Network, Inc of NY for National Jewish non-profit Homeland Security
  • $763,216:  Jewish Federation North America of New York (themselves) for grants from FEREP to cover expenses (it is unclear why this grant was not treated as income).
  • $721,164:  Jewish Federation of Baton Rouge of Baton Rouge, LA for flood relief
  • $479,362:  Self Help Community Services, Inc of New York, NY for Holocaust grants
  • $335,000:  Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest, NJ of Whippany, NJ for Holocaust Grants from WILF Foundation


JFNA reported total assets of $295 million at year-end (June 30, 2017) on the IRS Form 990 which were primarily comprised of receivables ($204 million) and cash and securities ($84 million). Liabilities totaled $177 million, most of which ($136 million) were reported as “other liabilities” with no other detail provided on the 990.

Net Assets were $118 million at year-end, $9 million of which are permanently restricted, $100 million temporarily restricted, and $8 million unrestricted.


JFNA spends $18 out of every $100 on support functions with compensation as the largest expense. The average employee received $135,000 in total compensation although only 47 employees received more than $100,000 in total compensation. The most highly compensated employee was the President and CEO, Gerrald Silverman who received nearly $700,000 in total compensation. JFNA paid for companion travel when his wife was required at business meetings thoughout the year.  Of the 10 most highly compensated employees, 6 are female while 4 are male.

The above analysis shows that JFNA is primarily engaged in fundraising and raised more than a quarter billion dollars in 2017, 82% of which they awarded in grants, primarily two two organizations:  United Israel Appeal (a wholly owned subsidiary) and Joint Distribution Committee. Although these organizations are classified as domestic on the 990, the grant monies listed on the respective 990’s indicate the funds went primarily to help in Israel.

On the balance sheet, assets are concentrated in receivables and $136 million in “other liabilities” are not detailed.  JFNA has $118 million in net fund assets (think savings account).

To read the IRS Form 990 (2016) for the year ending June 30, 2017, click here.

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