NEW YORK (JTA) — More than 20 Jewish charities were featured on the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Philanthropy 400, despite some serious drops in fund raising.
The annual ranking of top money-collecting nonprofits looked at charitable collections for 2008, a year in which many charities felt the pain of the recession and the early fallout from Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
The Jewish charities included on the list each took in more than $55 million, but they also saw some of the biggest individual drops in donations.
The country’s largest Jewish charity, the Jewish Federations of North America, formerly known as the United Jewish Communities, took in $398.5 million but its donations fell by 25.3 percent. The tally for the umbrella organization of the Jewish federation system consists of money that passes through from local federations to the system’s overseas arms, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel, as well as federations’ dues to the national group, money from special campaigns and an annual grant the system receives from the U.S. government.
The Jewish Communal Fund of New York, a donor-advised fund that relies heavily on patrons who work in the financial services industry, saw a 26.9 percent drop. The Jewish federations in San Francisco and New York saw 28.8 and 21.3 percent falloffs, respectively.
And Hadassah, though its officials have worked hard to avoid being hurt by the fallout from the Madoff scandal, saw its donations drop by nearly half, to just over $85 million in 2008.
Meanwhile, one of the biggest gainers on the list was the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest New Jersey, which saw its contributions grow 71.4 percent to $78.8 million. MetroWest and the Birthright Israel Foundation, which took in $87.5 million in 2008, were new to the list.
The American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia dropped from last year’s list.
The top-ranking federation on the Chronicle’s list was New York’s, which despite its drop in support finished No. 111 with $177.5 million. In addition to New York and MetroWest, seven other local federations made the list: Chicago (132), San Francisco (181), Boston (197), Detroit (274), Cleveland (346), Los Angeles (349) and Baltimore (355). Communal funds in Los Angeles (241) and San Diego (317) made the list, in addition to New York’s (55).
Yeshiva Univeristy (108) and Brandeis Univeristy (239) made the list, in addition to the U.S.-based fund-raising arm of the Weizman Institute of Science (286). Several national organizations also finished in the top 400.
In all, according to the Chronicle, donations to the country’s largest charities grew by 1 percent last year. But many of the organizations listed closed their fiscal years in June or September, before the recession truly took hold.
The Chronicle expects the 1 percent increase to drop precipitously in 2009, and perhaps further in 2010.