Jane and Daniel Och Family Foundation: New York City Grants

OVERVIEW: The Och Family Foundation focuses its grantmaking on New York City, followed by select areas of Massachusetts and New Jersey. Since this is a very private hedge-fund-operated foundation, grantseekers will have some difficulty getting noticed and having their programs considered.

FUNDING AREAS: Hospitals, human services, and Jewish causes

IP TAKE: There is no good way to get in touch directly with Mr. and Mrs. Och, so you're going to have to go through their financial firm, BCRS Associates, for a fighting chance. Make sure your proposal benefits New York City's Jewish community for the best results from that phone call.

PROFILE: The Och Family Foundation hasn't been around for very long (it was only established in 2008), but it's already making waves on the New York philanthropy scene. Daniel Och is chairman and CEO of Och-Ziff Capital Management, a global hedge fund. After accumulating a net worth of $2.9 billion, he and his wife, Jane, kicked off their philanthropy with $15 million to a Jewish day school where his mother once worked as a history teacher and administrator.

In addition to managing his own foundation, Och sits on the board for an entrepreneur mentoring program called Endeavor and the New York City-based Robin Hood Foundation. He's also made significant political contributions to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. A vast majority of teh foundation's funding goes toward New York City organizations, but contributions also are regularly made to nonprofits in Massachusetts and New Jersey as well.

Past local Och grants included $2 million to the United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York, $1 million to New York-based Birthright Israel Foundation, $2.67 million to the Robin Hood Foundation and $2 million to the UJA Federation of New York. Och regularly gives funds to the Robin Hood Foundation and the New York Presbyterian Fund so that their well-established grant experts can distribute the funds where they're needed the most. Million-dollar grants are the norm with the Och Foundation. The couple awards only a couple of dozen grants each year, so they're usually large enough to be newsworthy.

Recent grants have ranged in size from $25,000 to $3 million each. At the end of a recent year, the foundation reported over $273 million in assets and more than $19 million in total giving. Both assets and giving are up from past years.

Since Daniel and Jane don't employ a foundation staff, they take a somewhat hands-off approach to their philanthropy. They like to put their money in the hands of other expert foundations and give to causes they are already familiar with on a personal level. When outside organizations appeal to the Och couple, they usually receive general operating support so that they can best decide how to use the funds. The professional services firm BCRS Associates LLC has handled most of the tax and financial services for the couple's foundation as well.

Little-known non-profit organizations will most likely have an uphill battle working with the Och Foundation. Like many hedge-fund-driven family foundations, Och remains very privately operated. Since the foundation isn't very transparent or accessible for grantseekers, the best way to introduce yourself is to contact its management firm, BCRS. Honestly, do you really think you're going to catch a hedge fund billionaire on the telephone?

Well-established hospitals have a good chance of getting funded here. Any program that has Jewish overtones or influences is likely to be considered as well. Human services organizations often have a bit more trouble getting noticed in the crowd. You can reach BCRS Associates at its New York office at 212-440-0800.

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