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August 7, 2021

Executive Compensation at the Jewish Communal Fund

by Anne Paddock

The Jewish Communal Fund is a tax-exempt, non-profit 501 (c) (3) that focuses on donor-advised funds, which are funds (more than 4,200) that have been established at the Jewish Communal Fund for philanthropic purposes.

The Jewish Communal Fund manages the funds and assists the clients that established the funds on how to give back to the community.  This type of fund basically eliminates the client from having to do the research, management, and monitoring of funds, leaving the responsibility to the Jewish Communal Fund staff.

Based in New York, NY, the Jewish Communal Fund manages about $2 billion.  In 2020, total revenue was $585 million (including $194 million in marketable securities), most of which came from contributions, gifts, and grants ($525 million), and investment income/gain on the sale of assets ($60 million).

Expenses totaled $549 million and were categorized as follows:

  • $ 536 million (92% of revenue):  Grants
  • $   4 million (1% of revenue):  Compensation
  • $   6 million (1% of revenue):  Fees for Services
  • $   3 million (less than 1% of revenue):  Office-Related and Other Expenses

As illustrated above 92% of revenue is awarded in grants:  3,803 grants greater than $5,000 were made. 83 grants of $1 million or more were made, all with a purpose of “general support.”  It is important to note that millions in grants were made to other non-profit organizations (often with the words: Foundation, Fund, Federation, or Network in their names) whose purpose is to award grants.

While awarding 92% of revenue to grants is commendable, the problem with The Jewish Communal Fund (whose purpose is to award funds) awarding grants to other organizations whose purpose is to award grants is that two sets of overhead costs have to be paid for.  And, if the second recipient also awards grants to another non-profit who uses the grant money to award grants is that there is too much dilution taking place. It is simply not financially efficient to award grants to other organizations who award grants.

19 employees received $4 million in compensation which equates to an average compensation of $211,000. However, only 9 of the 19 employees received more than $100,000 in compensation:

  • $726,954:  Susan F Dickman, EVP and CEO
  • $419,961:  Beth Wohlgelernter, SVP and COO
  • $328,439:  Ellen Smith Israelson, VP Philanthropic Services and CMO
  • $251,594:  Saul Wadowski, VP/Controller
  • $251,422:  Michelle Lebowits, Sr Director Business Develop/Client Services
  • $242,559:  Melanie Marchfeld, VP Grants Administration
  • $229,788:  Tamar Snyder, Sr Director Marketing and Communications
  • $183,177:  Hilda Beck, Director of IT and Financial Services
  • $161,625:  Igor Musayev, Asst Director Financial/Investment Services

As illustrated above, 7 of the 9 (78%) most highly compensated employees are female while 2 of the 9 (22%) are male.

12 independent contractors received more than $100,000 in compensation with the 5 most highly compensated reported to be:

  • $1,800,044:  Adage, of Boston, MA for investment management
  • $  778,197:  Sycamore Partners, of New York, NY for investment management
  • $  544,448:  Deerfield Private Design, of New York, NY for investment management
  • $  513,292:  575 Associates LLC, of New York, NY for rent
  • $  471,241:  PWP Growth Equity Fund II, of New York, NY for investment management

To read the IRS Form 990 (2019 for the year ending June 30, 2020), click here.

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