JFN: Foundations will provide bridge funding for nonprofits hurt by Madoff

The Jewish Funders Network is developing a comprehensive plan to help nonprofits that were hit hard by Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme that would include bridge funding for organizations hurt by the scandal.

The JFN’s president, Mark Charendoff, informed JTA of the plan after convening a meeting of 35 of the country’s largest Jewish foundations in New York Tuesday. By its own estimates, the JFN, which has some 900 members who are major funders of Jewish causes, already counts some $2.5 billion philanthropic dollars as erased by Madoff’s scam, Charendoff told the Fundermentalist.

The meeting started off with an address from a professional from the Chais Family Foundation, a $170 million philanthropy that was forced to close after losing its assets through Madoff.  “On the one hand the meeting was very painful, and on the other hand, there was a lot of anger in the room,” Charendoff said. “There are people who dedicated their lives to Jewish philanthropy and this guy is posing as a Jewish philanthropist to gain access to individuals with money and to not for profits to exploit them.”

According to Charendoff, the foundations represented at the meeting came to a consensus to take action: They will create an information hub that would include the financial commitments to non-profits that have been made by foundations that were hit by Madoff that can no longer meet their obligations, as well as a list of nonprofits that are in danger of closing and nonprofits that self-identify as candidates for merger.

The foundations involved with JFN will create a pro-bono human resources bank through which foundations and nonprofits can share costs for legal resources, accounting, grant writing and development needs. And the foundation have also decided to create a mechanism to create bridge financing for organizations directly hit by Madoff. That mechanism would be a vehicle to give emergency loans from philanthropists to nonprofits now in trouble. So far, the JFN has pledges for “millions” of dollars in loans, Charendoff said.

The group has also reached out to a handful of executives at Jewish federations to see how the private philanthropists can work with the federation system to help in the wake of Madoff’s damage.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has published an article on the meeting.

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