Clearly, the very successful elimination of institutional memory at JFNA has accomplished one thing for certain -- to the professionals in charge today and over the prior decade, it is so easy to embrace as new ideas that are, in fact...not. This is especially true if these programs come with cash. As we discuss two of these "newbies" (which appear not to be), would some Foundation or mega-donor come up with some funding for...actual fundraising? Because FRD appears to have been relegated to the trash heap along with the United Jewish Appeal, United Israel Appeal and generations of lay and professional leaders.
Anyway...let us look at something called Amplifier and, if you will, another titled Enter. The former offered with funding from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation; the latter the brainchild of Charles Bronfman and Jeff Solomon.
Amplifier -- great name, BTW. We are told that Amplifier is "a philanthropy idea generator" that will now be located under the JFNA umbrella. I assume that JFNA, which has no apparent interest anymore in raising money (once presumed to be its primary purpose on behalf of the federations), has plenty of time in "reimagining and inspiring thoughtful collaborative giving inspired by Jewish values." So said JFNA's National Campaign Chair. (Maybe Amplifier could come up with a new title for this position inasmuch as it no longer has much if anything to do with "national" or "campaign." As examples of the value-added that Amplifier has already created, the article in eJewishphilanthropy describing the program cites: a giving circle for Women's philanthropy at UJC of Virginia Peninsula and "(S)everal years ago" something with an Asian Women's giving circle and some more giving circles -- one "of people of color" and some other stuff. If you wish, you can read the whole story at https://ejewishphilanthropy.com/the-jewish-federations-of-north-america-warmly-welcome-amplifier/
The great philanthropist, Charles Bronfman, and the brilliant innovator, Jeff Solomon, along with Alon Friedman the (former?) Director of Hillel-Israel as CEO, have created Enter -- not as great a name as Amplifier, BTW -- "...aiming to educate Israelis about the role and significance of diaspora Jewry -- and bring Israeli and and North American Jewry closer together." In this effort, Bronfman/Solomon have recruited a number of major private foundations to each pony up $250,000 per year for three years -- not an insignificant amount of money. Of course, this is not the first effort along the same lines but without the focus and investment that Enter and its Founders/Partners will bring to the effort.
Of course, chevre, these are worthy efforts and, perhaps, with real commitment and application Amplifier and Enter will succeed. But, really, these are old wine in new bottles. After all...giving circles...really. In my community, and I would wager yours, what would morph into federation began with a group of men (yes, back then...men) of wealth coming together annually to decide the communal needs and, then, commit to meet them -- Giving circles writ large. And Enter echoes the efforts of the Council of Jewish Federations to educate Israelis about the Diaspora through missions and education.
These are efforts that should have begun with and within JFNA. Because of the void at our umbrella agency of and for the federations, great philanthropists have stepped in -- and that's both great and very sad. You can join with me in asking what the hell has JFNA-Israel, with its top-heavy and bloated staff (even after COVID created the need for down-sizing), accomplished . Or, to put the question in another way: would Charles Bronfman, the first JFNA Board Chair, and Jeff Solomon, my professional partner in the merger process that resulted in what is now JFNA, have created Enter within JFNA if there were any there there?
Think about it.