Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I hope that all of you enjoyed a meaningful Rosh Ha'Shana. I have written recently about UJC's obsession with strategic planning as well as the head in the sand ignorance of the economic conditions which have and will impact on every federation. There's more...

As to the economic impacts on federations... UJC has still not even discussed how it might lead in offering lay and professional development assistance and expertise to federations at a time when the economic crisis is expected to have a a devastating impact on charitable giving. Example: at its Executive Committee meeting yesterday, UJC's leaders focused on "Recommendations for UJC Regarding Falas Mura." The fiddling is getting louder my friends as UJC buries itself in its own irrelevancy. Has an emergency FRD assistance plan been developed at UJC? Is there a cohort of lay leaders experienced in federation-driven FRD (which would eliminate the Chairs) ready to assist federations under David Fisher's titular leadership as Campaign Chair? Have the Campaign Chairs and Directors who participated in the Campaign Chairs and Directors and Women's Campaign Chairs and Directors Mission been convened by conference call so that UJC might learn about the economic environment impacting on campaign from those dedicated communal leaders leading the FRD effort? The answers: No, No and...No. I have spoken to leaders in one federation whose 2008...2008!!!...total donors reduced by more than half and its campaign dropped by 1/3rd. Other federation leaders around the country have told me of being advised by major donors, "don't even talk to me about 2009." UJC's silence is deafening.

As to the "strategic planning process"... Many have already pointed out why this "process" is doomed to failure as have the two prior "strategic plans" under this leadership. Let's add to the list: notwithstanding the admitted disaster of ONAD, within this strategic planning process there is a "work group" focused on UJC, JAFI and JDC. In typical UJC fashion, there are no lay representatives of JAFI or JDC at that Work Group table. Does UJC contemplate, as has been the style of Mssrs. Kanfer and Rieger, imposing "alignment" on our "partners" in name only? Is there no recognition that this just won't work, no matter the quality of federation professional leaders at work on the subject? Then, there is Development....or the total lack of it within a so-called UJC "strategic plan." There is no Work Group on the subject...none. Four years ago the FRD Study Group produced the following: the collaborative model, the emerging communities model (abandoned unilaterally by this UJC leadership -- in violation of written contracts with the affected communities themselves) and a set of Next Generation programs highlighted by the "Flight" and "Lunch With a Legend" Programs. Today Development is not even an after-thought to those who pose as our system's "planners."

This year's strategic planning will waste lay and professional resources so critical at this time of incredible crisis. At the end a "Plan" will emerge that will be like pulling a car out of a ditch only to discover you're out of gas. OK, bad enough...but you can be assured that with this leadership remaining in place discussing 3,000 Falas Mura while our federations and our partners contemplate running on fumes, with UJC there is always something worse to follow. Do Joe Kanfer and Howard Rieger have any comprehension that in these times, when federations are so stretched in trying to find the resources just to carry on, UJC Dues will be the first (or second) to go?

You know the Yiddish advice, loosely translated as: "Men and women plan and G-d laughs." Well, right now, G-d is experiencing hysteria.


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