I hate to be beating a dead horse (bad choice of words, I know)....but... In one of my first Posts (February 3,2008), with almost the same Title as this one, I suggested to UJC's leaders that they give some time to reading Jeffrey Solomon's insightful op-ed piece in The Forward -- Agencies Must Gird Themselves for a Recession. To make it even easier for them, I quoted what I thought were helpful suggestions from the Article in the Post. (Now, these leaders may claim they don't read this Blog, but they seem to be able to quote chapter and verse to third parties when condemning me to a communal purgatory for writing it.) I suggested that as federations were going to be tightening their belts and reducing budgets, so should UJC. I was ignored.
Then, on April 1, 2008 (I know, April Fools Day), the JTA observed the potential impacts of a recession in Jacob Berkman's story -- With the economy faltering, nonprofits get a sinking feeling. Predictions of a "philanthropic recession" were heard at the Jewish Funders Network parley in Israel. Yet, none of that "negativity" is heard from UJC. In fact, nothing is heard from UJC on the subject.
I tried to figure out just why UJC's leaders would not want to be a model for the system, nimbly adapting to changed circumstances. And then an old joke jumped out at me. You've all heard it before: A federation solicitor approached a tough prospect and asked for the donor's annual gift. The donor went through a litany of excuses: business is down....had a terrible fire...supporting his parents...yada yada yada. When the donor was done, the solicitor said: "Just because you're having a tough year, why should we suffer?"
Now, UJC could argue that the more difficult the economy, the more important the investment the federations make annually in UJC. But, to make that argument, UJC would have to reorient itself to the Annual Campaign from which only just steered away. It would have to stop itself from advocating for huge supplemental fund raising efforts. It could reduce significantly its investment in UJC Israel, recognize the great work being done on the ground by JDC and JAFI and scale back those efforts not yet even implemented. It could take the $3.5 million dues reduction demanded by the Large City Executives and say "not only are we doing that, we'll unilaterally offer to reduce the budget by twice that." Trust me these thoughts haven't entered their minds. You want to stay members, pay your dues. "Just because you're having a tough year, why should we suffer?" Indeed.