The Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation had several major accomplishments over the past year, including a raise in the disbursement rate to beneficiary agencies and expanded programming, which helped raise the Foundation’s profile.
Andrea Freedman, president and CEO of the Foundation, says the Foundation is helping Ottawa’s Jewish community, encouraging people to think more about philanthropy, and helping Jewish organizations grow.
“The Foundation is an excellent vehicle for everybody to use for their philanthropy. It’s a great way to make a difference for our community – for today, and to leave a permanent legacy,” she said.
Freedman says that a big accomplishment of the Foundation last year was increasing its disbursement rate from 3.5 to 4 per cent.
“That doesn’t sound huge, but in reality it’s a couple of hundred thousand dollars more going to help Jewish organizations in Ottawa. For most of the organizations, it’s a huge deal,” she explained.
Freedman said there were several reasons the Foundation was able to increase the disbursement rate, including a solid year of investment returns (Foundation Treasurer Adina Libin announced a rate of 8 per cent at the Foundation AGM last month), more donors making use of the Foundation’s giving opportunities, and more community organizations opening up managed funds.
“There is a real energy right now behind the Foundation, and it’s great for the community,” Freedman said.
The Foundation has also seen significant growth in some of the programming taking place throughout the year, according to Freedman.
“That we had the former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces headlining our annual general meeting is really significant. This fall we will be having our first-ever joint top donor event between the Federation and Foundation,” she said.
Foundation Chair Gillie Vered says a significant accomplishment of the Foundation has been fiscal excellence, with the rate of return of 6.61 per cent over the past 10 years.
“People now realize how good a job the Foundation is doing in managing the funds and trust,” he said.
Vered also says that through ambassadors reaching out and talking to people, they have been able to raise the profile of the Foundation, which, in turn, has distinguished it from the Jewish Federation of Ottawa.
“The Federation deals with raising funds for today, while the Foundation deals with raising funds for today and for the future,” he explained.
Vered was modest about his own role. He said the Foundation’s accomplishments started long before he became chair and that he is just one part of the team.
“There have been great chairs of the Foundation over the years and there are many people on committees that work really hard,” he said. “It’s not just one quarterback leading the charge.”
Director of Development Micah Garten says the Foundation is becoming better known in Ottawa’s Jewish community, and more people are recognizing that the Foundation allows them to support the organizations they want to support.
“I’ve spoken to people who get very excited about being able to accomplish their philanthropic goals, and that the things they care about are going to be supported,” he said.
“When you think about the facts that the Foundation contributes almost $3 million annually, that 95 per cent of it goes to local Jewish causes, and that money will be here forever – it is a pretty powerful statement.”