You will be meeting in New York City on May 7. While, in the midst of the Budget process, I have been disinvited from not just next Tuesday's meeting but from the Committee itself, I am certain that you would not mind my suggesting some questions that need to be answered by UJC's leaders as you engage in the serious deliberations over a five hour meeting schedule (including lunch, of course) and debate and deal with a $40.5 or $37 million budget:
- Last year UJC approved a $400,000 allocation to enable the development of programs that would for lack of a better term "restart" the Trust for Jewish Philanthropy effort. How were those funds spent, if at all? If not spent for the budgeted purpose, please explain.
- The UJC Board approved a $1.5 million increase in the 2007-2008 Budget subject to specific programmatic approval by, among others, the Budget & Finance Committee. $845,000 was approved for a consultant contract on branding and repositioning federations. Is that research study "on hold" pending UJC's new Sr. Vice-President joining the staff? How much has been spent to date? Have their been any interim reports from the consultant? May the Committee see those reports, if any?
- And, on the same issue, as nothing has been brought before the Budget & Finance Committee, may we assume that the $655,000 balance has not been expended?
- In the current fiscal year, numerous Senior professionals have left the organization. What were the savings to Budget as a result of unfilled positions?
- If it is true that under the circumstances described above, UJC has underspent its current fiscal year Budget, how does the UJC Administration propose to "distribute" the resultant Budgetary surplus? Reduced Federation dues? Increasing the allocation to JDC and JAFI to partially satisfy year-end 2007 cash shortfalls? Other?
- The current budget reflected a significant investment in UJC Israel, transferring dollars from other UJC programs and activities. How have those dollars been invested? What have been the measurable impacts/outcomes of the activities of UJC Israel in 2007-2008?
- At calendar year-end UJC cash projections to JAFI/JDC fell $3.5-$4 million short. Have the federations that underfunded these cash responsibilities made up the shortfall to JAFI/JDC? Is there a lay Cash Collections Committee in place? If so, who are its members?
- In fiscal year 2006-2007, UJC Consulting (now UJC "Capacity Building") earned "fee for service" income of $200,000. In the current Budget year, that same UJC effort projected no income to offset expense. Was that a conscious policy change at a time that Large City Federations examining UJC's Budget and dues have urged a greater commitment to "fee for service?" If so, where was that policy change discussed.? Is there to be a greater commitment to "fee for service" in 2008-2009?
I am certain that members of the Budget & Finance Committee members will offer even more relevant questions than these during their brief meeting next week. I hope they get answers.
Well, I just read the JTA piece today on the budget. It is clear that the Budget and Finance Committee will be presented with a fait accompli. The 2008-2009 Budget will be $37 million, no more (unless sources other than dues can be found) and, unless the Budget & Finance Committee intervenes, no less. The Board Chair has even gone so far in the article as to suggest that UJC leadership had planned these cuts all along. So the Committee members can more productively spend their time on May 7 asking the questions that need to be asked. (Beyond the obvious: "if the Budget is already set, why are we here?") Every member of the Budget & Finance Committee will participate on behalf of their federations and UJC; they will ask the right questions.