Having served as president of the board of trustees of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ, Ken Heyman understands the pressures of the annual campaign. The needs of the local and global Jewish community are immediate, and success is measured by the fiscal year.
But as newly named president of the Jewish Community Foundation of MetroWest, he is adjusting his sights to the long-term. JCF is the planned gifts and endowments arm of UJC MetroWest, managing more than $250 million in assets from donor-advised funds, supporting foundations, life insurance gifts, and other vehicles.
“Most of the work we do might not have an impact on the community in some cases for many, many years,” said Heyman, a financial planner who has held most of the top lay leadership positions at UJC MetroWest, including president from 2006-08. “Someone could be making an estate planning decision at age 55, and we won’t see its results for 30 or 40 years.”
Succeeding Andy Stamelman, Heyman will oversee JCF’s various projects, which in recent years have included laying the groundwork for its $1.7 million MetroWest Jewish Camp Enterprise and the MetroWest Community Day School Campaign, which aims to raise $50 million.
The seasoned volunteer has spent 21 years in various fund-raising capacities for the organization, from general campaign in 2003-04, when he was responsible for raising $24 million from 17,000 donors, to serving, for the last two years, as a synagogue liaison to the community, encouraging more collaboration and partnership among UJC MetroWest and its agencies and synagogues.
Despite the recession, Heyman said, he remains upbeat about local philanthropy, with one big caveat.
“Our revenues are driven by the assets we manage. When the value of the assets goes down due to market decline, our revenue goes down,” he said. “Our challenge over the last few years has been that reduced assets have forced us to be very prudent with our budgeting and make selective cuts. It’s been a challenging environment, as it has been at any not-for-profit institution.”
In any case, he said, as the market has stabilized, “revenues have improved from previous years.”
Heyman is also committed to addressing the structural challenges of contemporary Jewish giving.
“We are gradually losing our aging donors,” he said. “Their children and grandchildren are not as committed to Israel and to Jewish philanthropy. It’s a national issue. We’re not unique. What it means is that we have to talk to donors about what matters to them.”
Given that challenge, he said, the community can expect to see more focus from the foundation on collaborative giving among families, and more coordinated work between the annual giving campaign and foundation.
He also plans to have the foundation do greater outreach into the community. Established in 1949, the foundation traditionally has been used mostly within a small group of elite donors at the highest giving levels.
“Other people don’t know about us and what we can offer,” said Heyman. “We’re looking to increase that awareness.” He said he also understands that the more particularized giving that appeals to younger generations can be accomplished through the foundation.
JCF will be looking to engage younger donors in the community, in particular those in the Young Leadership Division and other professionals in their 40s and 50s.
In the wake of the Madoff scandal, Heyman can celebrate the foundation’s having emerged unscathed. He credits the strict policies adopted by Neil Goldstein, who chairs the foundation’s investment committee, which early on emphasized transparency. Still, Heyman said, they have “tightened up” these policies even more, “to ensure nothing ever does happen to the foundation’s assets going forward.”
Heyman recently moved from Short Hills to Morristown with his wife, Mimi, who has also served in numerous leadership positions in the MetroWest Jewish community. They are proud to be living in a new apartment on the former site of Epstein’s Department Store on the Village Green.