The exact date of the interview is not known.
Riskind: I’d like your thoughts about why it’s important for The
Federation to fund non – Jewish organizations.
Mandelkorn: In general, the annual campaign of the Columbus Jewish Federation
is restricted in its funding to non-Jewish causes local, national
and overseas. In general, it does not fund to non – sectarian or non –
Jewish causes. Therefore, special funds have to be required for that.
However, the Columbus Jewish Foundation does not have that
restriction. The Columbus Jewish Foundation can make money available
through special funds that it has: philanthropic funds, and also from our
We make these funds available for noteworthy causes and programs that,
though they benefit the general welfare and quality of services in the
general community, they also at the same time benefit the quality of the
community as far as it affects the Jewish people who are part of the
general community. So when we contribute to the enhancement of the general
community, we also are contributing to the enhancement of the Jewish
people who live in that community. They have a responsibility for
contributing and supporting the general community as well as the Jewish
Riskind: How well has this aspect of the Foundation been received in
terms of – is there any – are some people…
Mandelkorn: Generally, the reaction has been very favorable. We do it
by giving direct grants to project. We give the whole cost of the project or general matching
funds and we participate in that regard and we have found that it has created a new
dimension for the Jewish Community in which we are getting more and more
applications from non-Jewish and non-sectarian organizations knowing that there is a
place in the Jewish Community that they can come to for funding purposes.
They cannot make applications to the annual campaign because they are not
Another source of contributions are those funds that come from
philanthropic funds where donors have the privilege of making
recommendations for their funds to non-sectarian causes. So rather than writing checks themselves out
directly, their philanthropic funds done through the Jewish Foundation, many
gifts are going to many organizations such as United Way, Cancer funds,
universities locally and non – local and non – Jewish funds, but that is
explained that only where contributions to these causes are also enhancing
local services which are Jewish – or non – Jewish as far as that’s
concerned, so that hundreds of contributions are made through the
Riskind: And then one thing you can do is pick out some non – Jewish
projects that you have funded and give out some of…
Mandelkorn: …the field of culture, the field of health.
Riskind: The Martin Luther King Center.
Mandelkorn: Oh, yes! They were tickled pink! We provided funds for
example, for employment of a Coordinator for Volunteer Services which was
essential to them in the initial stages of developing programs for them.
They thought it was just wonderful.
Riskind: Take two on interview with Ben Mandelkorn on February 15.
We were discussing the origins of the Foundation.
Mandelkorn: The Columbus Jewish Foundation was born in April, 1955. It
was an idea developed by the leadership of the United Jewish Fund which
was the forerunner of the Columbus Jewish Federation. It had – its purpose
was to separate out from the annual campaign of the Federation or the
United Jewish Fund and from its activities, those areas which would be
less confusing in activities, mainly in the holding of properties, the
purchasing of properties, the obtaining of funds from a variety of sources
other than from the Annual Campaign for capital purposes, as well as to
encourage people and others who may want to make gifts to the Federation
other than to the Annual Campaign for a variety of charitable purposes.
Here. What I’d like to insert for your use: Insert number one. It
spells out the specific purposes on it. It was really the beginning of a
program to provide funds for developing an endowment fund program for
meeting unusual, special purposes that donors have in mind, or to build up
a general fund to be used other than – again – for the purposes for which
the annual campaign is conducted. Also, to develop reserves for unseen
future needs in the community. It didn’t have an elaborate kind of
program to start with, but really a place that would separate out these
funds and keep and manage them separately from the Federation.
Now it was never their intention, even though they set this up as a
separate corporation for tax – exempt purpose known as a 501 [c] 
organization, they wanted to have it a meaningful and functional
relationship with the Federation. So the way they handled that was that
the constitution provided that the officers of the Colulmbus Jewish
Welfare Foundation would be officers of the United Jewish Fund and the
officers of the board – really (undiscernable) board members of the Foundation
came from the Board of the United Jewish Fund, and more specifically from
the allocations committee of the United Jewish Fund.
The original idea was to call it The Jewish Communal Foundation but
when it came to putting the constitution together they called it the
Columbus Jewish Welfare Foundation.
Riskind: When did they drop the “welfare” part of the name,
do you remember?
Mandelkorn: Yes. In the course of time, when the Tax Reform Act of
1968 (or 1969) went into effect and the government – the Treasury Department – the I.R.S. were
discouraging the creation and the multiplying of private foundations, they
came up with a device for donors to be able to set up publicly based
foundations, and this meant for an arrangement “advised funds.”
Euphemistically it was changed within the Jewish community, to the term,
“philanthropic fund.” That allowed the donor to take advantage
of greater tax advantages, less costly operation of a private foundation,
provide more flexibility, but then they had no control of the funds except
that they had the privilege to make recommendations for the distribution
of the funds with sole power and authority still remaining with the
Columbus Jewish Welfare Foundation. As long as the purposes of the
distribution were covered by the purposes of the Foundation would be
acceptable, there would be other restrictions.
At that time, the Foundation had a limited number of funds, did not
have a broad
base of contributors, and we were advised by national authorities that
we might to provide a protection that would not jeopardize The Foundation
by making it a part of the United Jewish Fund, therefore having a broad
base of contributors, which the United Jewish Fund had, so that no one
major contributor could jeopardize the Columbus Jewish Welfare Foundation.
So the United Jewish Fund subsequently had merged with the Jewish
Community Council – it was known as The United Jewish Fund and Council –
at the time that this change was being considered, and so the function of
endowment fund purposes, which was the prime function of the Columbus
Jewish Welfare Foundation was made a part of the United Jewish Fund and
Council, the Columbus Jewish Welfare Federation was eliminated, the
function became a part of the United Jewish Fund and Council and the
United Jewish Fund and Council became known as the Columbus Jewish
A further change – about 1968 – it was known now as the Endowment Fund
Committee of the Columbus Jewish Federation. It had no longer its own tax
– exempt identity or basis. Then, for marketing purposes, the endowment
fund name was changed. Not its structure, and not so much its functions
and activities, but its name for marketing purposes was called the
Columbus Jewish Foundation.
This was probably about the mid 1970s, maybe the latter part of the
70s. When the Columbus Jewish Welfare Foundation became a part of the
United Jewish Fund and Council, later the Columbus Jewish Federation,
there was an arrangement made that the constitution of the Columbus Jewish
Welfare Foundation was eliminated, and the by – laws replaced the
constitution, and all the powers of operation was vested now with the
endowment fund committee, a subsequent Jewish foundation, and even though
they operated almost independently, the powers and the authority of the
Columbus Jewish Foundation was still based with the Columbus Jewish
Federation in the sense that the constituency was the Board of the
Columbus Jewish Federation, and therefore, any changes in the by – laws
required the authority and approval of the Federation and also the board
and originally officers had to be approved by the Federation. Subsequently
we changed the by – laws that the nominating committee of the Foundation
submitted only the members of the board to the Federation, and the
officers were elected by the new board of the Foundation.
Basicly, that’s it and all the activities of the Foundation were
handled by the Foundation. It did not have to submit any of its activities
for approval or disapproval to the Federation.
Riskind: When it first was merged into the Federation, for a while
there, it did have to submit – it was part and parcel –
Mandelkorn: No, no. The Columbus Jewish Welfare Foundation, initially was
completely independent. When its function was made part of the Federation,
its bylaws, which were formally the constitution, was the basis on which
the Foundation functioned, but its power and existence was derived from
the Board’s approving the bylaws of any modification of it and approving
the board and the officers. In other words, it could put the Foundation
out of business, or modify as it saw fit.
Riskind: At what point did the Foundation break off and become a 501?
Mandelkorn: It never has. It derives its authority to accept gifts and
to provide the donors with the
tax exemption through the 501 (C) (3) of the Federation. By legal
Federation has permitted that activity – that power to take place.
Riskind: So really the Federation at any time can abolish the
Mandelkorn: Yes, it could.
Riskind: At some point, do you think that the Foundation, as it gets
bigger and bigger, (you mention $40 million in assets,) will need to
Mandelkorn: Only if it felt that the relationship would not adversely
affect one another, and that they would have the strength to achieve their
combined missions of the Federation and the mission of the Foundation. At
this point, there is no plan to do that. It could happen in the future,
because there is a great deal of overlapping as far as key leadership is
concerned. The functions are very clearly separated out from one another.
It could, overnight, with changes in the constitution and other devices,
go independent and operate. It would not be a major task to do that. It
could revert back to the original position of being independent. But as
long as they’re both able to achieve their purposes without adversely
affecting one another, they will continue to be where they are. The
overwhelming experience throughout the country is that endowment fund
programs of Federations are under the umbrella of the Federation in the
form of a function in a committee rather than as a separate corporation.
There are advantages and disadvantages. There is a great deal of strength
that the Federation provides a Foundation in terms of leadership and
resources, and the activities that do have a certain amount of (undiscernable) of
this one up.
On the other hand, the identity and the freedom to build up its own
resources and to reach out and to eliminate any confusion that might be in
the minds of donors would have the advantage of being separate. There is a
oftentimes a lack of clear understanding on the part of the donors, that
when the donor is asked to identify with or to give to the Foundation, in
most cases, the donor is not able to clearly make the distinction between
each, and feels that sometimes giving to the annual campaign is
contributing to charity, and why give another gift to the Federation via
the Columbus Jewish Foundation. There is that confusion.
Riskind: Do you think that there is sometimes confusion about whether
all the Foundation’s money goes to the Federation, when really, only a
very small portion of the Foundation’s money goes to the Federation’s
Mandelkorn: The relationship of money going to the Foundation and
then some of it ending up at the Federation, is a decision of a cooperative nature between the
donors and the Foundation, but the Foundation receives funds that belong
to the Foundation, and it has the ultimate decision as to where the money
will go, but that Federation has no power to determine that distribution
of the funds. However, the donors may devise instruments, recommend or
earmark money that can go to any one of many types of beneficiaries that
are 501 [c]  of which the Federation is one.
Riskind: Is it the function of the Foundation to supply whatever needs
the Federation has as a result of a shortfall in its own campaign? How do
you determine how much money goes to the Federation?
Mandelkorn The Foundation was clearly set up, not to duplicate the
funding process or the funding sources of the Federation via the annual
campaign. No grants will go from the Foundation , and we call them grants,
not allocations, to the Federation or any of its financially affiliated
organizations for the same purposes for which the Federation makes money
available, namely, operating purposes. Foundation will give us money for
long term needs, capital needs, risk – taking, scholarships, et cetera.
The way money gets to the Federation through the Foundation is essentially
and almost exclusively through an instrument known as the Philanthropic
Fund, which is a device which has been created by the Treasury Department
and the IRS to permit a person to set funds aside in a public – based
foundation, of which, in Columbus, there are only two – the Columbus
Jewish Foundation and the Columbus Foundation.
Giving money to The Ohio State University is not a public – based
foundation, or to United Way is not a public – based foundation. It’s not
that they couldn’t, but they don’t have it. When you give to Red Cross,
it has to go exclusively for Red Cross.
The Philanthropic fund is simply a mechanical device where donors can
put in dollars, and keep them there, unearmarked, and he can then at a
later date recommend a distribution to any one of a number of
organizations, local, national or overseas. At the same time, that
principal gets invested in a pool of money, so he can make recommendations
on the distribution of the other income and principal, if he wants to, so
he has banked money away. Instead of having a private foundation, he has
Riskind: Say I give $100,000 to the Fund, that $100,000 is tax exempt,
it’s off my taxes, right?
Mandelkorn: And that’s the only tax exemption he can have from it.
When he makes a recommendation that X dollars go to another 501  [c]
organization, he does not get a second tax exemption. There are many
donors to the Federation – we have something like 140 philanthropic funds
in the Foundation by the name of the individual, or family, and they will
make recommendations in the form of a gift to the annual campaign, or a
gift to United Way, or a gift to OSU. They can do that, and so it’s a
convenient device – instead of a donor having to manage his funds and
manage his money, or if he has a windfall at any time, and doesn’t know
how to disburse those funds, he can put it into the Columbus Jewish
Foundation, into a philanthropic fund, and somewhere down the road, he’ll
determine how to distribute it.
Riskind: When you say recommendation, is that a polite way to say he
can mandate how this is used?
Mandelkorn: You can’t use the word “mandate,” and you can’t
use the words, “to honor a pledge.” Can’t do it.
Riskind: If I say, “Ben, this year I want ten thousand of my
dollars to go to OSU,” can you say, “No, we can’t use the
money that way,” or how much discretion do you have?
Mandelkorn: Technically, we could say that, but as long as the funds
are going to organizations that are acceptable for the purposes of the
Federation, we will not say no, we have to have a good reason. If it’s
an organization of a questionable nature, or if it’s not a 501 [c] ,
we will say no on it. We’re here in this case to serve the common
interests of the donor and the Foundation.
Riskind: So some of the money the Foundation disburses each year is the
decision of the Foundation and its officers, and some of the money is the
decision of individual donors. Yes?
Mandelkorn: Right. Philanthropic funds have the privilege of having
donors make recommendations, but we have other categories of funds in
which donors have no decisions on it. Now donors can set up special
purpose funds and the money can go only to those purposes for which the
donor can say, “I’d like it to go…,” we have no choice. We
took the money in under those conditions. Or an institution will set up
funds with us for its purposes and it sends a letter to us that says,
“We would like to receive X dollars from that particular fund for the
purposes for which it was set up,” we have no choice about it, we
have to honor it, it gets distributed. The Foundation has complete control
and discretionary privileges for unrestricted and undesignated money.
Riskind: Why do you think that, starting in 1955, even after it became
part of the Federation, still it was sort of stagnant – not a lot of money
was in it, a couple of million or that, it never got very far until the
late 70s or early 80s. What was going on – it wasn’t very dynamic. Why?
Mandelkorn: When some leadership were saying, “Gee, I wish some
people would leave some bequests, so that we could have some extra money –
this was a couple of years before 1955 – and the general purpose of the
annual campaign of the Federation was to meet ongoing needs of the
community through the Federation’s device for local, national, overseas.
Jews always had a responsibility to take care of their own needs, whether
it was family service, resettlement of refugees, or a Jewish Center to
keep their people together culturally, heritage, historically and all
that, with Jewish education, or community relations, needs that nobody
else would meet – that when Jews came to America, in the early 1600s and
they wanted to settle in New Amsterdam / New York, they were only allowed
to come here and settle, they were told in no uncertain terms, that,
“You can come and settle here, but you cannot be a liability on this
city (New Amsterdam / New York), you will have to take care of the needs
of your people.”
And that was true for other religious groups. Religion was a terribly
important thing in those early days, there was a lot of people were coming
– they had been persecuted, whether they were Protestants, or Lutherans,
whatever they may have been, Jews were no different. Almost all religious
groups set up institutions to take care of their own people. They grew in
the course of time, and the Federation movement came on starting in 1898
and gradually, by World War I, the Federation movement took hold. It was
the forerunner of the Community Chest, United Way and so forth. It was a
concept that the Jewish Community did that and together we could do better
by pooling our funds, cutting our overhead, reduce the manpower, do
planning, than doing it separately. And donors were saying, “Enough’s
enough – I don’t want twenty different people knocking on my door during
the year,” and Jews recognized that this was one way to preserve
their services effectively, and it was customary for them to feel they
could meet the daily needs of the Jewish community by that device.
And they didn’t look ahead! They only looked at what they have to
take care of now. The fund raising in the Jewish community didn’t hit
its stride until the Holocaust – until the State of Israel. Large amounts
of dollars were needed and the instrument was in place. The Federation was
the place – they could marshal the manpower and everything else, and that’s
where big bucks began to come forth to us. Jews had been giving their
money for current needs. It was never in the back of their minds that they
should be planning ahead for unforeseen needs, emergencies, crises, the
only ones who thought of that were like colleges, some hospitals, some
institutions, but no one else. This idea of putting money aside for
special needs and future needs, is, relatively speaking, a new phenomenon
in fund raising. That’s how Harvard go started, that’s how Yale got
started, that was their own source. They told their alumni, you know,
Riskind: Why did it take so long to get going? Really – why –
Mandelkorn: In general, no program, no matter how worthy or how
credible, will ever be successful unless it has the following elements in
place and are being worked on:
1. A clearly defined program, not duplicated, not a conflict.
2. A knowledgeable, experienced, skilled staff person.
3. You’ve got to have a budget – a program – a plan to make it work.
When I came on board in 1956, this had only a paper…
Riskind: What was your position when you came on board in 1956?
Mandelkorn: When I came to Columbus from Detroit, I was with the Federation
and my clear responsibility was just Federation work, although I had training
and skills in other areas. When I came here I had the naive concept that
I was coming here for meeting the needs of the United Jewish Fund, and
that was my prime task. I was 42.
Riskind: Give me an outline of your career and where you were born.
Mandelkorn: I was born in Paterson, New Jersey in 1914. I grew up in the
city, went through high school, to Rutgers University, spent two years in law
school and decided that was not the area where I wanted to function, and I went back to complete
my undergraduate degree in psychology – sociology, stayed out for a year to get
enough funds, then I went to graduate school at The University of North Carolina – got my degree in Social Work.
At that time I received notice of being drafted for World War II, they
allowed me to finish up my master’s degree at the University of North
Carolina. No sooner did I finish it, I was drafted into the army at the age of
27. I spent two years as an enlisted man, 2 1/2 years as an officer, and I
came out as a captain. I was overseas for 2 1/2 years. When I came out, I had
lost all my contacts so I got an opportunity to become director of the social
service operation under the Federation of the Department of Jewish Social
Service Bureau and I was to be the director there in Dallas.
I was there two years and I had the opportunity to join the staff of the
Detroit Jewish Federation. That was the year primarily for budgeting and
planning, and I got into fund raising, development, the whole panoply of
work. I was there for nine years and wanted to get out on my own. There weren’t
too many good opportunities. Columbus came along and I was encouraged to come
here to Columbus. The director here was a top – notch man, but he was
holding on to the job on a limited basis. He wanted to get back to New York.
I came here with the idea that I was going to stay 2 or 3 years. I came
here as Director of the United Jewish Fund. Then I found out I was also
Director of the Jewish Community Council. Then I was Director of the Jewish Family Service, which was a separate institution; then I was Director of the
Columbus Jewish Welfare Federation. All four.
Riskind: You directed all four?
Mandelkorn: All four at the same time. So you wonder why…
Riskind: So you wonder why – how much one person can do.
Mandelkorn: When I came here, there was myself – in the United Jewish Fund
there was me, the bookkeeper, and a secretary. Family service, the entire staff
had left – there was only one person there. Jewish Community Council,
there was no staff people, I had to handle it. Columbus Jewish Welfare
Foundation, there was nobody there, so I had to handle that.
Riskind: Even though at that point the Foundation was technically separate
from the Federation, there was no director for it.
Mandelkorn: Right. Right. Its budget, as I saw it later, was something like
$3,000. At that time, as I saw it, they had maybe about $30,000 – $40 ,000 of cash, and maybe
had at that time,) $50,000 – $60,000 worth of property. Then I noticed in the
course of their audit later on, after four or five years, they’d picked up
parcels of land that were contiguous to the 40 acres at the Jewish Center. They
picked up the Alum Creek, they picked up some more, so…
Riskind: At that time were all the operations run out of the Jewish Center?
Mandelkorn: When I came here, the United Jewish Fund was at the Grand
(Theater) Building on State Street, opposite the Capitol. About a year later we moved to the
University Club at 40 South Third Street. We stayed there until ’69 when we got our
own building out here. The only other community facility was the Jewish Center,
which was here.
Riskind: Why, in the fifties and sixties, was so little emphasis put on
Jewish communal services in the sense that there wasn’t any staff support? It was a
relatively small operation. Was it because it wasn’t such a big Jewish community?
Mandelkorn: No, no, no. When I came here the Jewish population was hovering
around ten thousand, which would represent approximately 3100 Jewish families, as far as
that was concerned. Columbus was coming around pretty late in its own development.
Riskind: Pretty small.
Mandelkorn: First of all, it wasn’t professionally directed, at least the
Federation part. In fact, the Federation, five years before me, the Director of the Federation was not
a professional, as far as that’s concerned and so, when my predecessor came,
who was a very well – trained professional, he began to professionalize these
things and I did the same thing, too.
Riskind: What kind of things did you do to make things more professional and
to make things bigger – take on more staff people?
Mandelkorn: When I first came here my first responsibility was to enhance and
dispense (undiscernable) with the annual campaign, which was a major experience and skill that I had.
I think at that time they were raising about (tape ends)
Mandelkorn: While that was going on, I took on all (undiscernable). I directed the
Family Services and I immediately got an associate director who handled the professional aspect
of case work and so forth, and developed programs around social and family
needs. At the time when I severed my relationship with Family Service, we had
something like eight or ten professionals. At the same time, for example, I was
directing Community Relations, up to a point, so I co-oped the ADL – the Anti-Defamation League
that had a regional office here, and bought time from them and staff
from them but made it a community committee, not an ADL committee, and demanded a
professionally developed Community Relations program.
Then it was brought to my attention that there was a converted residence on
Woodland Avenue that had about 10 or 12 occupants or residents for a home for
the aged. The elderly people were being sent to Cleveland because they didn’t
have the facilities or service here. Within one year I conducted a study – brought
in consultants and so forth. And I handled the study – to determine the cases.
Were there cases that warranted building an institution? Within a couple of
years, the answer was yes, it was needed, and I conducted the campaign for a
home for the aged and also recruited staff for that. I didn’t run that and I
delegated to someone else, but I played a major role with the building committee and with the fund
raising. We raised for that building something like $800.000, compared to
$18,000,000 now. So we got that service going. So we got the Family Service
going, to some extent. The Center was already established.
Riskind: And about what year was this by the time you got all this stuff
Mandelkorn: It started in ’56. In ’57 we began to roll.
Riskind: At what point did you then start turning your attention to the
Mandelkorn: I recognized its importance but they weren’t prepared to
program – put in budget, put in money. They had priorities and they had other needs.
Riskind: Did they have a problem, as you said, in not being able to look
Mandelkorn: Partly. I couldn’t give it the time and attention, and they
weren’t ready to hire any staff for that – they wanted me to do it. What
happened about five years before my retirement, when I was 60, in 1974,
arrangements were made that I was going to retire in 1965. In 1979. when I took
it over, and retired as director of the Foundation, I took it over part time with the freedom to do consulting work
if I wanted to. We had assets of about (undiscernable) which was being held by the
Welfare Foundation was now turned over to the Federation, so we lost that asset – it
might have been $800,000 or more, so in ’79, we started out with about
$750,000 of assets. The Jewish Center, Heritage House, Cubbage Corners, the Development
building were assets that were part of the Foundation that was removed.
Riskind: So up to 1979, the Foundation was not really making any kind of
significant grants. You had no money, you had no liquid assets.
Mandelkorn: First of all, we weren’t structured in a lot of committees.
Secondly, the programs would be episodic. I proposed different programs, but who’s
going to follow up on them? We did develop a program on letters of intent. We did have a program
for insurance. We had a group of nine persons that gave insurance policies to
the Federation, which we wouldn’t touch today – we wouldn’t take ’em –
because they weren’t gifted. We were made the beneficiary, but when they
stopped paying on the premiums, there was nothing there.
Riskind: Were you giving any kind of grants at that point?
Mandelkorn: Grants we gave out for capital needs – modest ones – for repairs
of a building, for site development, for the purchase of some land – the Center
needed some landscaping, we gave them some money – we bought the building – we
had a residence on College Avenue – it’s no longer there, we bought that – we
picked up a little extra land, we made some loans available to some
institutions, which they had to pay us back, but the kind of grant making that you see today was non –
existent. We didn’t have a grants committee. We didn’t have a property
committee. We didn’t have an investment committee. We just didn’t have a lot
Riskind: Take me through the growth years. Let’s go to 1979.
Mandelkorn: Once I was relieved of all these other responsibilities, I could
focus clearly on how to organize. The first thing I did was to strengthen the
board – strengthen the by-laws, start to build up committees for specific functions, begin to
develop programs, develop those educational programs, prepare brochures, run
institutes, begin then to approach board members, officers, and discuss
different things they could do, start to push on those philanthropic funds,
because that became big, and that started building it up. That part of the program went wild.
That was the bulk of our money at that time, both in cash and non – cash.
And that wasn’t good, because of the purposes of a multifaceted endowment fund
program, because the money then was all controlled to a large extent by
donors. What the hell did we have for dispensing? We had very little. In fact,
we turned to discretionary funds, non – restricted funds – I was lucky if I
had fifty thousand – a hundred thousand dollars, so what’s the use of having grants committees? To sit
around a table and bite one’s fingernails? That’s when I began this whole
process of developing programs – 1981, ’82. That’s when I sat down with committees
to determine goals. Look, Fellows, we got to get up to a million – got to get
up to two million. How do we get up to here? These are things we gotta do.
Riskind: In 1980 what were your assets?
Mandelkorn: The growth was rather phenomenal. It started going up – from
one million to three million, to four milllion. These were book assets. We never had a bad year.
Riskind: What about this thing – book asset and…
Mandelkorn: A book asset is the actual value that you take in money. Cash
is book value. There’s no appreciation to it. A dollar’s a dollar. You don’t
put an inflationary price. Market value is stock or property which may go up,
so it’s largely securities. Book value can also be non – cash, but does not
go up or down. It’s fixed. An Israel bond, for example. All cash money is
invested in a pool, and that was invested, and we have to redistribute the
money back to each fund according to proportion and amount.
Anyone that had a philanthropic fund and realized from the investment say,
$900, first we took one – fourth of that, and then we took one – third of
that, so from the $900, we could take off $300 to go into a general fund. When
the money went to the general fund, we maintained the principal and used only
the investment income from the general fund. That became money for grant –
making purposes. And in the course of time, initially might have been $50,000, $100,000. Now we
distribute maybe $200,000, but that doesn’t take grants committees to do it.
It’s pretty much designated to a large extent. Each year we’ve been building up, from one
million, to two million, to about five and a half million dollars, and then it
would distribute out about three and a half million. Then we have the net on
the thing. So that began to add up, to a large extent. Some of the money that
came in was securities, too, so we would segregate it, what’s cash, what’s
not cash and so forth.
And so the grants committee began to take on meaning in terms of an
application that’s made – it’s a carefully worked out application form,
with guidelines, rules, regulations, criteria, so forth; committees meet,
review them, determine whether they’ll approve the grant; sometimes we pull grants for
one year or one shot, sometimes for one, two or three years, they have to
report back each year before they can get the second or third year and so on. Then we
can go into investments. First we worked on a volunteer basis, then we hired a
professional financial advisor, because with the volunteers, you went crazy
sitting around the table. No one would want to take responsibilities for a
poor investment, and everyone was an expert and wasn’t an expert, so we set up
guidelines for investments, have an investment committee, turned it over to
a professional financial advisor, said “This is how we want our moneys
invested. Guide us. We want you to try to realize X dollars, and we want you to
protect the interest and to protect the principal, because the bulk of our money is
still donor controlled, and we can’t afford to lose our credibility.” We
do have some equities, but that’s limited.
Then we have a committee on property, because we began to learn,
people would try to dump junk on us. They would go out and get a high
appraisal value, then we couldn’t sell the goddamn stuff. Oh, I’m sorry
– you can’t get that on tape. Now we’ve learned what to take in and what not
to take in.
Now in the course, we’ve been learning different kinds of instruments.
We’ve been getting then into insurance kinds of programs, we’ve been
getting a child’s remainder trust, wills and bequests, and we’ve been
doing a lot of institutes. We set up a legal fact committee – well, that takes time! And
programming and effort – we do that because we want to educate and
sensitize certain resources in the community that will come back to us in terms of attorneys’ accounts, financial planners, trust officers.
We set up a woman’s committee that for the past 5 to 6 years has been
running a series of institutes to educate and sensitize women. I will have
to tell you we’ve been setting up a whole variety of committees, we’ve been
getting funds from people who attend these meetings or participating in, they have
a reason. We get funds also from people who don’t participate in it, but I
have to tell you that that is what we call community organization process (undiscernable) –
that as people come close to us and get involved with us and it makes sense to
them, then they do something, and then they tell their friends.
Our board is made up of very prestigious people. We’ve got lots of people that want to get on the board, on the committees, we don’t have
room for them. We have an annual meeting now, going into our tenth annual
meeting now. It’s a sit-down dinner. We started out with 50-60 people at one
Last year we had 250 people at a sit – down dinner. It’s not fund
raising. Now what brings them to them? It must be something we’re doing that makes
sense. The type of people that come are top leaders of the community.
Riskind: What has the Foundation come to represent to attract such interest
Mandelkorn: We’re doing what the Federation itself cannot do in its
annual campaign. We serve two kinds of purposes. One would make funds available for programs of projects and services that are not being made available by the annual
We make money available to institutions, organizations and agencies that
get no money from the Federation. They’re not affiliated with (undiscernable). Three. We
make funds available to nonsectarian organizations. The Federation doesn’t
Equally and even more important, we are serving the philanthropic interests
of donors who cannot give their money to the annual campaign, and tell the
Federation just where our money goes . (It would) destroy the concept of
the Federation. The donor can come to us and say, ” We want you to give
this money to Pilot Dogs. I want to give this for health purposes. Can you do
this for me? And I got a lot of different causes I want (undiscernable).”
What kind of instrument do you want to set up to achieve your purpose?
Do you want to have it during your lifetime, do you want any income? We do all those things the Federation cannot do. And we do it. What’s more
important, is when you give money to the campaign, it goes in, and it goes out. That’s
You give money to us, a large amount of it sticks. So the theme we are
using, is called, “Building a Community Legacy.” Live not only for the
present, but for the future. When you came to this community, you had a network of services
here. How do we maintain that? How do we meet these needs? Somebody did
something for it – you’re not benefiting from it? You have a Center here,
you have a Family Service, you’ve got Jewish Education, what the hell did you
contribute to it? Nothing! Now what are you going to do about it for the
Now you’ve got to add to that, so that the next generation coming along will have something. And that’s what we do. We are a much more flexible,
multifaceted (undiscernable). We are purely philanthropic in what we do. The Federation doesn’t have to be purely philanthropic. Campaigning is terribly
important, but a lot of other things are important things. Not us – we raise money, we
distribute money. We don’t deliver services. Except we deliver services of donors.
We will not deliver Family Services, Health – says, Don’t come to us if you
have an earache. Can’t help you on that.
Riskind: But you deliver money to the organizations that take care of the
Mandelkorn: We can do it the most effective way possible.
Riskind: I think this is a good –
This interview is a part of the Oral History project of the Columbus
Jewish Historical Society.