Yesterday the UJC Board and Delegate Assembly engaged in very upbeat meetings which resulted in, among other things, the unanimous approval of the UJC $37 million Budget and the emergence of a new, very new UJC in the form of a reborn CJF at six times the cost. Support for the Annual Campaign appears buried, if it continues to exist at all, within the "Center for Jewish Philanthropy" and the "collaborative model;" the huge budget of UJC Israel remains without an articulated plan for its expenditure; Missions have disappeared as a national activity; etc., etc., etc. The Budget (and though I remain a member of the UJC Board, I did not receive a copy of the Budget Book [such is my lot in life] -- I had to rely on friends in Chicago to spare me a copy) demonstrates that UJC will now "outsource" most of its most critical functions (the ones federations want) -- Annual Campaign, Missions, community consulting, ePhilanthropy -- with the federations paying the freight over and above dues.
And, what you may ask will UJC be doing in 2008-2009? Best I can tell, mainly vetting consultants. Oh, but there will be an Owners' Retreat -- eight months from now, at the end of January 2009. Inspired by the Large City Executives' Vision for UJC (presented brilliantly by Misha Galperin, Washington's President and CEO), UJC will now apparently retain the LCE's consultant (yes, the LCE have their own consultant) to frame this Retreat. The recognition that a meaningful Retreat engaging UJC with its Owners is almost an epiphany for this UJC leadership; they are to be congratulated for recognizing the need. Yet, clearly, it is being pushed off into the distant future in the hope that its branding/strategic marketing consultant will have completed its work by the Retreat date.
The 56 Intermediate Cities Chairs and Executives, objecting to the Budget process in a respectful letter to UJC leadership before yesterday's meeting observing that in reality there was an "absence of deliberative review of service implications attendant to the proposed dues reduction" and no opportunity for these 56 federations "to express their priorities for UJC programs and services." Having asserted themselves, they voted for the reduced Budget subject to an expressed "...overriding principle: we are unified in our desire for an effective and efficient national system that embraces deliberative, rational and collaborative processes to determine who and what it is, and what it will become." They, and we, will now await that "deliberative process" until next January. Let us pray. Or as the sorry fans of the Chicago Cubs have been saying for what is now the 100th year in a row -- "Wait 'til next year."