Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hoffman’s compensation stuns many in community 

In calendar year 2008, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland paid its president and CEO Stephen H. Hoffman $687,043, more than any other Jewish federation head in North America. Among Jewish communal leaders, only Richard Joel, president of Yeshiva University, received more compensation that year, $853,651.

Hoffman’s compensation for 2008, the latest year reported, is 2% higher than the $673,581 he received in 2007. But the compensation numbers do include some confusing accounting that begs for further explanation.

Since the Forward, a New York Jewish weekly, reported Hoffman’s earnings in its Dec. 17 issue as part of an article on top Jewish communal executives’ compensation, the news has been met with surprise and concern throughout the Cleveland Jewish community. While the compensation Hoffman, 60, receives is high, leaders of the Cleveland Federation say it is appropriate when put in proper context.

What the Forward’s figures do not fully indicate is that under Hoffman’s leadership, the Cleveland Federation oversees nearly $2 billion in assets from donor-advised funds and family foundations, Federation officials say.

The revenues from 44 large charitable foundations whose assets Federation invests and manages are not included in the Federation’s 990 form, per accounting rules. But the IRS form does list the administrative expenses to manage those foundations. This unfairly skews the evaluation of Federation’s performance by the online watchdog organization Charity Navigator, says Michael Siegal, Federation board chairman.
Other federations in cities with much larger Jewish populations, like San Francisco, Atlanta and Baltimore, do not invest and manage nearly as much money. They also pay their top executive less.

When viewed through this lens, Hoffman’s compensation is 0.52% of Federation’s expenses and grant making, not 1.05%, the figure listed by Charity Navigator, says Barry Reis, Federation senior vice president and chief financial officer.

The discrepancy occurs because when Charity Navigator looks at the Cleveland Federation’s 990 form, it sees $65 million in expenditures. It does not see about $67 million in annual grants from the 44 charitable foundations, which brings Federation’s total grant expenditures and operating expenses to $132 million.

However Federation’s performance is evaluated, many Clevelanders think Hoffman’s compensation is way too high.

“I find it incomprehensible, given the dire needs of our Jewish community, that the compensation committee of the Federation would elect to compensate Mr. Hoffman with a $687,000 salary,” says Gregg A. Levine of Pepper Pike. “Based on comparative salaries (published) in the Forward and in Crain’s Cleveland Business, his salary is not in sync with the competitive landscape.


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