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Business Spotlight

Jewish Community Foundation helps address social issues in San Diego and beyond

Congressmembers Scott Peters and Susan Davis with JCF president/CEO Beth Sirull and board chair Leo Spiegel at the JCF 50th anniversary celebration
Congressmembers Scott Peters and Susan Davis with JCF president/CEO Beth Sirull and board chair Leo Spiegel at the JCF 50th anniversary celebration
(Courtesy)

BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT:

Jewish Community Foundation (JCF) was established more than 50 years ago and continues its tradition of providing grants to non-profit companies not only in San Diego, but also in Israel and around the world. It’s the largest philanthropic funder in San Diego County.

President and CEO Beth Sirull joined the foundation in 2017. She said JCF has always had a laser-like focus on providing personalized, curated services to donors. “When you have a donor-advised fund at the JCF, it is as if you have your own personal charitable foundation and we are your staff,” she explained. “While JCF is aligned with Jewish values, we are proud to serve donors of all faiths. JCF San Diego has long been known as one of the most innovative community foundations in the country.”

JCF created a fund (in partnership with the Jewish Federation) to meet the immediate needs of the victims and families of the Chabad of Poway tragedy that occurred in April. Also this year, the foundation has provided opportunities for donors to invest in two of San Diego’s most critical issues — affordable housing and economic development.

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These donors will help to tackle those problems while still earning a financial return on their philanthropic dollars. Recently, JCF provided key support to establish the Habitat for Humanity Homebuilding Investment Fund, a fixed-income impact investment.

Here’s how it works: Donors make gifts into their donor-advised funds and then the foundation works with them to ensure they grant those dollars to further the causes they personally care about. “At JCF,” explained Sirull, “we believe in the power of every individual to make a difference and that, collectively, we can change the world. Our job is to help our donors effect the changes they care about while at the same time highlighting the most pressing needs in our community and the innovative approaches to addressing them.”

In 2003, JCF became the first Jewish community foundation to develop and implement a “university” — the Endowment Leadership Institute — to educate organizations on how to build endowments to ensure their long-term sustainability. JCF later provided the model to a national private foundation to scale the effort nationally, leading to more than $800 million in current gifts and future bequest commitments to support Jewish communities across the country.

JCF also manages endowment funds for nearly 70 Jewish and secular non-profit organizations in San Diego County. The investment returns from these funds are distributed annually to the organizations to help them further their missions and ensure their long-term sustainability.

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Over the past five years, JCF has granted more than $600 million to non-profit organizations. Nearly $450 million of that amount has been put to work in San Diego County. Nearly half of the funds it grants goes to secular organizations in San Diego. Of that, about 40 percent of funds are allocated to education, 20 percent to health and human services, 20 percent to arts and culture, and the remaining 20 percent to organizations addressing an array of other social and environmental issues.

“We make it very easy for our donors to give away money,” said Sirull. “They can direct a grant to any charitable organization online, by phone, by e-mail or in person. Donors can open a donor-advised fund for as little as $1,800. Grants can be for as little as $100 and can be made to any public charity. We make weekly distributions to nonprofits.”

The foundation is also enabling donors to invest in San Diego Grantmakers’ Women’s Empowerment Fund, a loan fund that will be lending money to low-income women who are small business owners, providing them with capital and business advice to help them grow their businesses and lift their families into the middle class.

To learn more about the Jewish Community Foundation, call (858) 279-2740, e-mail info@jcfsandiego.org or visit jcfsandiego.org

— Business Spotlight features commercial enterprises that support La Jolla Light.


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