Wednesday, November 28, 2018

  • Wednesday, November 28, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
Earlier this week The Forward had an article talking about how much Muslim charity CelebrateMercy raised for Jewish causes in the wake of antisemitic attacks over the past year.

Thee is no skepticism about what the head of the charity is saying about how the funds are being distributed; not all the funds raised have been disbursed but the plans being made are reported without any independent research. No digging into IRS forms, for example.

Compare that with how The Forward reports on Jewish charities:
The Forward is asking readers to help us review the tax filings of thousands of American Jewish charities. We’ll teach you how to dig into a charity’s finances. Then, we’ll assign our reporters to follow up on what you find.

All you need to help is some time, and maybe a cup of coffee.

The American Jewish community has an extraordinary abundance of nonprofit institutions. Many of them are doing good, important work. But it’s difficult to know which ones are living up to the responsibility of spending tax-exempt donations wisely.

At the Forward, we spend a lot of time looking at the financial information that the federal government requires charities to make public. We’ve found some really big stories there.

But we usually focus on just the fifty or so largest charities in the American Jewish landscape. There are more than two thousand Jewish charities that file tax returns.

If we work together, we can do some serious watchdog reporting on these groups, which handle billions of dollars in tax-exempt donations.

Given previous reporting from that reporter, Josh Nathan-Kazis, we know that he will scrutinize and report on every piece of dirt, real or imagined.

To the Forward, Jewish charities are suspect while Muslim charities are assumed righteous.

Interestingly, The Forward itself is a non-profit. And it's own records show some interesting things that donors might want to know about that organization.

For example, in 2016, the Forward Association lost some $7.6 million according to its NY State CHAR500 filing. That's a lot of money, more than double what it lost in 2015.

But its president, Sam Norich, had $462,000 in compensation - an $80,000 raise over 2015.

Is this the best use of charitable funds for The Forward Association?

(Norwich apparently had a lifetime salary but they decided in 2014 to pro-rate his salary for the next few years over his expected lifespan. Maybe other non-profits give sweetheart deals to their executives, but that is hardly a responsible use of non-profit funds.)

It gets worse.

The Forward Association spent $539,000 on fundraising, but (when you subtract the money automatically transferred over from The Forward Fund (which requires no fundraising) the total amount raised was $1.4 million, meaning fundraising was an astounding 38% of the total amount raised, a percentage that would raise eyebrows for any auditor of a charity.

Speaking of auditors, the 2016 return was audited and found to have a ton of mistakes, the sort of thing that Nathan-Kazis would crucify any other Jewish organization for.


The mission of the organization according to these filings is "TO PROMOTE AND STRENGTHEN JEWISH PEOPLEHOOD YIDDISH CULTURE AND SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE. IT PURSUES THESE GOALS THROUGH ITS PUBLICATIONS AND PHILANTHROPIC GRANTS AND THROUGH COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS WITH OTHER LIKEMINDED ORGANIZATIONS."  Yet it has not made a single grant in the past two years on record.

This is all from a small amount of checking, mostly a single year's records.

You can find previous years' 990 forms here if you want to take a crack at it.

If the Forward was so fearless in its reporting as it pretends, then when will we find its analysis of its own non-profit paperwork, which upon a cursory glance seems at least as problematic as many of their "scoops" on Jewish charities that actually do something positive for the community rather than demonize large portions of the Jewish community as The Forward does, every day.

UPDATE:






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