New Jewish Donors Are Raising the Bar for Los Angeles Philanthropy

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles is the largest manager of charitable assets and the leader in planned giving solutions for Greater Los Angeles Jewish philanthropists. Not only has it worked in the local Jewish community for over 60 years, but it's also active in the community at large.

JCFLA just announced that it had a record-breaking year in terms of grantmaking, which caught our attention. In 2015, the foundation and its donors made $96 million in grants, a whopping 35 percent increase over $71 million the year before. Causes this funder supports range from human services to health initiatives and civic life.

The first big takeaway is that new Jewish donors in Los Angeles are emerging and giving more than ever before. Sixty-nine new donor funds were created in 2015. Money coming in from both existing charitable funds and newly established ones topped $138 million, up from $135 million in 2014.

So where is this new money going?

Here’s how the foundation’s grantmaking has broken down lately:

  • 29 percent for education
  • 22 percent for human services
  • 15 percent for Jewish continuity
  • 12 percent for health
  • 11 percent for civic life
  • 8 percent for arts, culture and humanities
  • 2 percent for international and foreign affairs
  • 1 percent for environment/animals/science

The foundation’s president and CEO, Marvin I. Schotland, said in a press release:

The record level of grant activity in 2015—and the deep, broad range of causes to which our donors extend their support—speaks to their abiding commitment to philanthropy and exemplary spirit of generosity.  The Foundation’s own institutional grantmaking endeavors last year were equally ‘deep’ and ‘broad,’ sustaining causes that included: Los Angeles domestic- and sexual-violence intervention efforts; local Jewish social innovation; and economic self-sufficiency and pluralistic Jewish identity in Israel, among other highly meaningful initiatives.

The second takeaway, here, is that JCFLA isn’t just a funder of Jewish causes: 37 percent of recent grants supported programs for the community at large, while only 63 percent went to Jewish causes. Secular nonprofits are often quick to write off faith-affiliated funders, but in JCFLA's case, that would be a big mistake.

Schotland added:

We continue to emphasize that the foundation affords its donors the ability to support a virtually limitless range of causes—Jewish and secular alike.  Nothing underscores this more than 2015 grantmaking, during which more than one-third of all distributions were awarded to institutions and initiatives in the broader community.

With an estimated $985 million in charitable assets, JCFLA wields a lot of power on the L.A. philanthropy scene, and it appears that its influence is growing by the year. Check out the foundation’s grants page to view a database of recent events and apply for a grant.

The best opportunity for secular organizations in Los Angeles is JCFLA’s General Community Grants, which range from $10,000 to $25,000 and feature a special interest area that’s chosen annually. These grants are made by invitation only; interests in recent years have included domestic/sexual violence, homelessness, early childhood literacy and financial literacy. These grants are made exclusively for programs, not general operating support, research, film, or building renovations.

To learn more about this funder, check out IP's profile for the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles. General questions can be directed to the staff at or (323) 761-8700.