Following a rigorous national search, I am thrilled to announce that Christy Butler Eckoff will be joining Federation as Chief Foundation Officer and Managing Director, Atlanta Jewish Foundation (AJF). Filling this important position with the right person has been a priority of mine and it’s a transformational opportunity. AJF is the centerpiece of Federation’s goal to be Jewish Atlanta’s Philanthropic Champion. By giving our donors world-class philanthropic advising to help them grow their assets, AJF has incredible potential to do great things in Atlanta.
Christy Eckoff comes to us from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta where she was Managing Director, Philanthropic Counsel. In addition to solid credentials in law and taxation, Christy is a superb relationship builder and will be an excellent fit to work with donors and fundholders. As our Managing Director she enters with a bold mandate to make AJF the go-to place for planned giving, asset management and Jewish generosity. The Federation board has set ambitious goals for AJF. It currently manages $328.5 million in assets and we hope to grow that number to $1 billion under management over the next decade. Here are three reasons why I know we’ll get there.
Reason #1: AJF already has a solid foundation. In addition to advising and serving individual donors, AJF is the advisor and custodian of Jewish community resources. Eighteen Jewish partner agencies, day schools and congregations already invest with AJF, and this year three new community partners came on board. Donor-Advised funds grew by 20% this year as well. And, on behalf of the community, the AJF has helped secure more than 200 letters of intent with an estimated value of over $13.5M in after-lifetime commitments through the LIFE & LEGACY program.
Recently, Mark Silberman, Helen Zalik and I completed a two-year Jewish leadership cohort sponsored by PRESIDE. Through that program Federation became eligible for a $250K matching grant that has been earmarked for Atlanta Jewish Foundation. We’ve already raised 75% towards the match from our donors, enabling us to invest $1M into Atlanta Jewish Foundation right now. The grant will amplify AJF as an asset-based revenue stream that ensures our ability to fund Jewish community priorities and help donors actualize their Jewish dreams.
Reason #2: Total Philanthropy is up. Federation grew total philanthropy this year to $19 million — a $1.3 million increase over the previous year. At a time when annual campaigns around the country are generally flat, that’s a sign of health. I’m also optimistic about the future because Atlanta is a vibrant center of innovation and entrepreneurship where Jews already play an outsized role. Our organizational culture of creativity and generosity matches the culture of the community, making AJF ripe for philanthropic investment. I believe that by building current and new relationships and providing superb customer service, AJF will raise its visibility in the wider community and be a compelling option for investment.
Reason #3: There’s untapped wealth in Atlanta. You’ve likely heard that the next 20 years will see the biggest generational wealth transfer in U.S. history as the “Silent Generation” and Baby Boomers pass along nearly $48 trillion in assets to their heirs and charities. This impending transfer of wealth is a huge opportunity for AJF. With our deep understanding of Jewish community needs and the organizations that are addressing them, AJF offers donors a competitive advantage over commercial funds and advisors. We can help our donors manage their investments wisely and at the same time, help them express their highest philanthropic priorities.