Jewish Federation’s investments show recovery from market crash

Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Foundation of St. Louis (JCF) has rebounded strongly after the market crash in October 2008. As of Dec. 31, endowment assets totaled $104 million. JCF holds the endowment funds and planned gifts, such as philanthropic and charitable funds, for Jewish Federation and nine community agencies.

In 2010, the investment return was up 11.1 percent. “This number exceeded our long-term investment target of 7 percent. Endowment assets in our portfolio for at least three years have fully recovered (+0.9 percent) and show a 5.1 percent five-year rate of return,” said David Kaslow, current Chair of Jewish Federation’s Investment Committee. Federation’s endowments performed at or better than most market benchmarks, and are consistent with other large-size Jewish federations, as well as some of the much larger national endowment funds. This recovery reflects a consistent and balanced investment policy that’s well diversified across different asset classes and individual managers.

The fact that the endowments have mounted a comeback is due also to the hard work, oversight and discipline of an Investment Committee comprised of investment professionals and business and community leaders of various ages and backgrounds. “The Committee has worked closely with an independent investment consultant, Fund Evaluation Group, based in Cincinnati, to keep a close eye on our investment philosophy and position us for sustainability,” said John Kalishman, Federation VP Finance/Treasurer, who serves on the committee and is credited with spearheading and shaping Federation’s current strategy.  

“While Federation is investing to grow long term, it is simultaneously providing an annual source of revenue for our community,” said Judy Abrams, Jewish Federation’s chief Financial & Administrative Officer, who is the lead staff person on the committee. The income generated from Federation endowments represents a significant source of money, which is used to cover allocations to some 50 agencies, programs and services in St. Louis, Israel and overseas. “Like most endowments, we use a multi-year average value for allocations so by 2012, we will see the full impact of this uptick in our endowment assets in our distributions,” she added.

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Every Jewish agency, congregation and organization has the opportunity to participate in the JCF investment pool, said Mike Ferman, who serves on the Investment Committee and is Treasurer of the JCC, which has its investments with JCF. “Investing with JCF enables Jewish agencies and other Jewish community groups to invest in one central place and leverage our expertise and economies of scale. It’s an opportunity for any agency to participate in this highly professional investment process.”

The information above was provided by Jewish Federation of St. Louis.