Saturday, July 5, 2008


When I posted "Deconstruction" on the 4th of July, I wasn't aware that the "asks" by UJC had gone far beyond even the list I offered as evidence of the lack of priorities at UJC. Friends of the Blog ("FOTB") have written me from their federations around the country to let me know that I have missed other examples of the continuing deconstruction of our national system.

Last week, I learned, UJC's excellent Planned Giving & Endowment Department sent not one but two pleas to federation endowment directors: one seeking further funding from Federation endowment and foundation budgets for UJC's PG&E work, the second seeking Federation endowment funding of the annual PG&E Institute. And, it appears that these additional asks were made without prior consultation with Federation CEO's. (I'm guessing there is a line item in UJC's Budget for "Costs of Asking for More Money to Fund Our Programs and Activities....$50,000.") There appears to be no limit to UJC's chutzpah. (My experience with UJC in similar albeit not identical matters that generated federation criticism of UJC is that the UJC CEO will claim "I have no idea how this happened" and then "I'll look into it and get back to you." Don't believe that denial of executive responsibility for a minute.)

So, will PG&E's outreach to Federation Endowments and Community Foundations to support its Departmental overhead and activities be followed by more of the same? Will UJC Development send its own letter seeking FRD for its FRD; will UJC Consulting Services once again engage in a fee for services effort after abandoning that embryonic effort only last year; will UJC Israel make an ask for additional funds for the next Sheatufim Conference to enable Kanfer(s), Rieger and Young to speak/participate on panels? Where does this opera bouffe end? When do the federation Executives who have been writing in blind support of what is this paradigm of a failing operation finally...finally...put their allegiance to their own federation, to our federation system above the one-way friendship they have with the CEO? Is it now fair to ask "when?" Let's restate the ever-growing list of UJC "asks" once again":

  • Dues -- $37 million

  • IAI -- Israel Advocacy Initiative

  • ACANI - the American Coalition Against a Nuclear Iran

  • Overseas allocations and an additional IEC "ask" for $13.6 million allocated against no available IEC funds

  • Secular school in Ethiopia

  • Tax Lawyer in D.C.

  • Federation Endowment/Foundation Support for PG&E programs/activities

  • PG&E ask for Conference support

  • Support beyond dues for the Ethiopian National Project

  • Midwest Disaster Relief
And, no doubt more to come. So, is it fair to ask once again: What in UJC's $37 million Budget supports a more critical priority than any one (well, almost any one) of these?

Look, friends, what did you intend when you voted to reduce UJC's Budget by $3.2 million -- that UJC would sit down with the federations and work out the system's priorities for the $37 million in expenditures or that UJC would immediately follow that vote with a series of independent "asks" for high priority matters and programs over and above the Budget but never...never...within it? That UJC leaders would brazenly make a mockery of the Budget process itself within barely days/weeks of its passage? That UJC would be so devoid of any process to set its priorities by and with you, the Federations, as to make the very concept of a rational UJC priority setting process nothing more than a joke? And, at the end of the day, the joke is on us, my friends, because we continue to enable the the chaotic mess that our system has become under this leadership. THIS HAS TO END. The wonderful professionals who remain at UJC trying to work to benefit our system deserve better; our federations deserve better; our partners in Israel and Overseas deserve better; and our donors deserve far, far better.

Shavua tov.


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