While constantly kvetching that it doesn't have the resources to perform its ascribed responsibilities, JFNA leaders have done nothing to focus the organization on ites core purposes while it strips away program after program that woud benefit the communities which own it, preserving those like JFNA-Israel which have offered no appreciable return on investment.
What do I mean? Consider:
- The newly approved Budget will eliminate the JFNA Speakers Bureau -- an effort that has been of great benefit to the Intermediate and Small Federations and, actually, to all federations which have used the Speakers Bureau;
- JFNA eliminated its CEO Search function leaving the federations to seek out and employ, at significant expense, Search firms for its chief professional officer searches;
- FedWeb will be "outsourced" -- another federation benefit...gone:
- JFNA eliminated the internal professional resources that used to respond to federation professional inquiries on a myriad of topics, directing them instead to the links of FedCentral;
- The GA, which today barely attracts flies, will be so pared down by the time that it arrives in Tel Aviv this November that the Plenaries sound as if they will be the equivalent of "Open Mic Nights" at the Comedy Clubs. Admitting defeat, the General Assemblies may (and probably will) move to a Biennial event (with a "by invitation only" thing in the off years);
- The FRD Consulting function, in the hands of a team of 9 experienced, remarkably credentialed, part-time consultants and the few full-time Financial Resource Development professionals, was created as a focused effort, assisting communities in their campaigns, or more generally, with FRD. It is now a comprehensive community consultation effort, so diluted in that the consulting team is spread so thin that many of them can't possibly offer the in-depth consultation that was once-promised (one Consultant has been assigned 68 communities, another only 23, another 24) -- there seemed to have been a determination at JFNA that the smaller the community, the less in consultation would be needed; that determination is just so without merit;
- JFNA eliminated the struggling National Agencies-Federation Alliance after not just failing to offer the National Agencies any support but actually after stealing over $1 million from the National Agencies Funding Pool for its own internal budget purposes. This left the National Agencies adrift. JFNA? Its leaders just shrugged;
- JFNA's lack of support was the most significant factor in the demise and elimination of JESNA, the entity created by the system to lead a continental support effort for Jewish education. After JESNA's demise, JFNA decided to create its own internal Jewish Education and Engagement Office (once a "Unit," now an "Office," no doubt soon to become a "Desk"). At JFNA this is called "Planning;"
- JFNA will no longer offer technology services to the Federations
- And, add to this list JFNA's continued silence in the Public Square
Oh, there's more, so much more.
In its recent explanation of its Priority Focus and Budget Planning, here's how JFNA rationalized its "Narrowing Priorities:"
"...the discussions over the past year have reinforced the degree to which the national system, having been through successive waves of budget reductions*, is already largely focused on areas where there is a high degree of consensus about their importance...JFNA should exit or outsource current programs and services that don't align, and/or where we don't bring unique added value to the Federations." (emphasis added)To which I would respond simply: bullshit. For the reality is that JFNA has consistently reached its programmatic and service decisions without first consulting with the very Federations they claim to serve. This top-down approach has led to disengagement and the deconstruction of the continental effort.
And, that's where JFNA has led us -- in the deconstruction of the continental effort.
And continues to...
"...waves of budget reductions?" Total fabrication. The JFNA Budget has remained a constant over the years. What has been decimated -- JFNA support for the federations.