The concept behind endowment giving is “forward thinking,” says Teaneck resident Robin Rochlin, newly appointed director of Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey’s Endowment Foundation.
“With an endowment, you create a fund with the purpose of generating dollars to fund a particular project over a long period of time. It’s meant to last in perpetuity – it’s giving for tomorrow,” said Rochlin, also named the federation’s assistant executive vice president for endowment.
Rochlin, who served for seven years as the foundation’s assistant director, will continue many of the duties she already performs, “but my responsibilities will be broader,” she said. “I’ll have the ultimate responsibility for the growth of the endowment foundation.”
Calling the work of that group a full partnership between professional and lay leaders, she noted that she wants to find ways “to attract more donors and help people create endowments to serve their philanthropic goals.”
Another of her priorities is to partner with more agencies and work towards growing endowments not only for the federation but for the community as a whole.
While the economic climate of the past several years has made such efforts more difficult, “It’s always a challenge,” she said. “But we’re beginning to see a turnaround. People are thinking more long term and planning for the future. It’s very encouraging.”
Rochlin said that before taking up a position at the federation, she worked in trust and estate administration at several banks, including Summit Bank – where she served as the bank’s liaison to the endowment foundation. During that time, she became well-versed in its operations.
According to foundation president Leon Sokol, Rochlin “provided significant technical support for the investment committee during a critical period, managed the federation’s Lion of Judah endowment portfolio, cultivated new endowment commitments, and gained the trust of a wide array of leaders and fund holders.”
Said Sokol, “Given this experience and her sparkling personality, we are confident that Robin will hit the ground running” in her new position.
Rochlin noted that the endowment foundation of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey manages more than $50 million in endowment funds, some for individuals and some for agencies.
Said Rochlin, “We work with an investment consultant, Colonial Consulting, based in New York City, and have an investment committee composed of sophisticated lay leaders with expertise in the field.”
She explained that the assets under management include unrestricted dollars; donor-advised, designated, and field-of-interest funds; and annual campaign endowment funds, such as Lion of Judah endowments, that perpetuate individuals’ annual gifts to the federation.
“A donor-advised fund is like a charitable checking account,” she said. “We invest for them, but they retain the right to recommend grants over time.”
Rochlin pointed out that grants – which must be approved by the foundation’s grant committee – are made to both Jewish and secular causes “as long as they are not antithetical to our mission.”
With field-of-interest funds, donors establish funds for a particular cause – for example, to benefit the elderly or promote Holocaust education. The foundation manages hundreds of funds.
“Endowment giving is forward thinking,” said Rochlin. “We live in a community that is blessed to have a strong Jewish infrastructure. We have many different offerings – schools, synagogues, JCCs – that people in prior generations, and this generation, had the foresight to build. Endowment giving is about leaving a legacy for the next generation so that they will have these as well.”