Madoff and Charities: A Further Analysis on the Vestiges of the Hadassah Nightmare – Part 3 – Installment 67

January 13, 2012Articles White Collar Defense & Compliance Blog

Installments 66 and 65 in this blog series were earlier postings of aspects of the effects and aftermath, three years after disclosure, of Hadassah’s unfortunate decades-long involvement with Bernard Madoff (“Madoff”).

This posting will utilize recent publicly-available consolidated financial statements and Forms 990 of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. and its related affiliated entities (collectively, “Hadassah”) to review the impact over the last several years of the Madoff scandal on the membership and dues and legal fees of Hadassah.

Membership and Dues

The following information on membership and dues is gleaned from the Hadassah Forms 990 for the respective indicated years:

The information above bears some further analysis. The short seven-month year ended 12/31/2008 resulted from a change in fiscal year by Hadassah to a calendar year. The disclosure of the Ponzi scheme of Madoff occurred December 11, 2008, so that almost all of the dues money had been received for 2008 by that time. Hadassah had a major increase in membership revenues in 2009 that perhaps was attributable, at least in part, to early sympathy that may have resulted from initial reports of millions of dollars in losses suffered by Hadassah in the Madoff scandal. Later in 2009 it surfaced that Hadassah had benefited in cashing out at least $77,000,000 in “fictitious profits” from Madoff.

Perhaps as a consequence of increased information about Hadassah’s involvement with Madoff made 2010 a relative disaster for Hadassah membership revenues as compared to the earlier years. It had such an impact that, as reported in at least one Hadassah publication in South Jersey to members in early 2012,

Hadassah had an amazing 2011 membership year with its “once in a lifetime” $100 deal for life memberships. Over 38,000 life memberships and associate enrollments were processed nationwide.

That membership drive may have yielded as much as $3,800,000 for 2011. However, it was clearly a one time event that was achieved by mortgaging potential future life and annual membership dues, as dues will no longer be generated from the 38,000 new life members. There may be an enduring positive benefit, however, of an increase in the total membership rolls and in volunteer enthusiasm through the 2011 life membership drive. The Hadassah web site quotes $212 as the cost of a life membership during 2012.

Finally, it is clear that Hadassah responded differently in the short fiscal year ended 12/31/2008 as compared to 2009 and 2010.

Legal fees

The following information on legal fees paid is reflected in the Hadassah Forms 990 for the respective indicated years:

Clearly, the costs of legal services for Hadassah were driven up substantially in 2009 and 2010 following the disclosure of the Madoff scandal. However, the legal fees had already started to subside in 2010, as Hadassah was moving toward its settlement with Picard that was completed in 2011.

In conclusion, the effects of the Madoff scandal on Hadassah and its mission have been materially adverse. It will take Hadassah some time for a complete recovery and reduce the effect to nothing more than a bad memory.