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Marsha Cowan, CEO of the Jewish Foundation

Marsha Cowan Optimistic About Jewish Foundation's Future-$75 Million and Growing

By Rhonda Spivak, January 3, 2013

In her remarks at the Jewish Foundation Annual Luncheon on Nov 22 at the Fairmont Hotel, Marsha Cowan, CEO of the Jewish Foundation laid out why she believes the future of the Jewish Foundation as the voice of Jewish philanthropy is a bright one.

"In the last 48 years, more than 3,000 members of our Jewish community have chosen to express their philanthropic desires through the Foundation," Cowan said.

Their generosity has allowed us to amass an asset base of $75 million, which makes us the second largest community Foundation in Manitoba. What this means is that over the years we have distributed 30 million dollars to charitable organizations," Cowan added.

"The fiscal strength of any foundation is based on two key factors: market performance and donor enthusiasm. We all know that the market has been volatile since the downturn of 2008, but we are weathering this storm and we all expect calmer times ahead. On the second factor – donor enthusiasm – we have never wavered. I have worked as a volunteer and as a professional for many years in our community and I am always amazed by the generosity and passion I see," she noted.

Cowan said that there are three highlights in particular that bode well for the future:

"First is our ongoing commitment to donor empowerment – our willingness to help donors contribute in ways that are most meaningful to them. An example is donor participation in our new Fund Match Initiative – a matching money program to help organizations grow their endowments. Another example is our successful Women’s Endowment Fund. We recently announced that we were seeking 50 donors to become “Builders” of the Fund by December 31 – our launch toward $2 million in assets in that fund. I am proud to say that we are only a handful of donors away from our goal. If you have questions about either program, please do not hesitate to call me. I would be happy to discuss ways in which you too can participate.[emphasis added]"

"A second highlight that bodes well for the future of the Foundation is the phenomenal success of the Endowment Book of Life project. Each year, we get commitments from donors that they will leave a bequest to the Foundation in their wills. We thank these donors by publishing their personal life stories in the Endowment Book of Life online and in hard copy at the Asper Jewish Community Campus. We have now surpassed 700 signers. It’s a remarkable achievement for a community of our size.[emphasis added]"

"Finally, I am optimistic about the future because of people. Not just donors, but volunteers. Organizations like the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba – and indeed all not-for-profit organizations – do not function without sleeves rolled up at events, dedication at the committee level, and talent in the boardroom. I am honoured to work with such remarkable volunteers.[emphasis added]"

Cowan also thanked Steve Kroft for his dedicated work in leading the Jewish Foundation  over the last year and a half:

"Steve has driven the Foundation forward this past year and a half with his exceptional commitment and his drive to make everything we do even better."


President Lloyd Axworthy's remarks at the Luncheon will be covered in a separate article to come. 



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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.