Jewish Communal Fund: New York City Grants

OVERVIEW: JCF facilitates and promotes charitable giving to Jewish nonprofit organizations in New York. Most locally focused funding goes towards education and community causes.

FUNDING AREAS: Education, community, health, human services, culture, religion, Israel, environment

IP TAKE: This isn’t a funder that you can apply to directly, but it’s a good one to know in New York City. A ton of powerful local donors work with JCF, and the funder’s influence is growing by the year.

PROFILE: The Jewish Communal Fund typically awards more than $2 million each year out of its own pocket to support the Jewish community in New York. But its main giving function is through its donor-advised funds, where it facilitates and promotes charitable giving to sectarian and nonsectarian organizations. The target of these funds is Jewish organizations in New York. JCF has been helping donors give to causes they care about since 1972, with at least 3,100 funds at JCF today.

Through those advised funds, over $297 million in grants were awarded in a recent fiscal year. The bulk ($57.2 million) went towards general education causes, followed by $42.3 million for international/Israel causes, and $37.9 million to community organizations. A record number of grants (43,472 total) went to a variety of organizations that year, representing an 11 percent increase in giving from the previous year.

You can view a list of recent grantees and grant amounts on the funder’s website.

In a recent year, JCF reported over $1.44 billion in managed charitable assets, which makes it a huge player on the local philanthropy scene. At one time, Chronicle of Philanthropy rated JCF as the second largest grantmaker in the country and third largest in assets.

Unfortunately for grantseekers, this fund’s website caters much more to donors and potential donors than grantseekers. There is no publicized application process for organizations that work for local Jewish causes.

Outside its donor-advised funding, JCF has a community gift program that involves a $2 million donation to the UJA Federation of New York’s Annual Campaign and grants from the JCF Special Gifts Fund. This fund has seen more than $10 million in grants distributed since 1999. Sample grantees include the Mid-Island Y Jewish Community Center for a food pantry, a Jewish daycare facility in Manhattan, and a theater that brings Holocaust survivors together in a theatrical setting. Many past grants have been in the $50,000 to $200,000 range.

However, something else that may be of interest to local organizations is that JCF has a fiscal sponsorship program to support groups that haven’t yet received their 501(c)(3) status. There’s a fee of about four or five percent of the daily balance maintained for this service, but this is an opportunity for groups with projects of at least $100,000 with funding secured.

You can keep up with what JCF is doing on its blog and in the news section. General inquiries can be directed to the staff on Madison Avenue at 212-752-8277 or via email at rep@jcfny.org.

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