Sunday, August 23, 2009


Alta kochers at UJC (including yours truly back in the day) have come up with what is now termed a "Suite" of programs for future mega-philanthropists (or, at the least, potential major donors) lumped (and I do mean "lumped") under a new banner -- BreakThrough. These have been embraced as offering new opportunities for this critical donor group. I thought it would be great to walk us through the "programs" and determine their relative priority and see if we, together, might come up with some ideas. Ready? Then, let's start our walk through BrechThrough.

The "new" Jewish Leadership Forum. I remember so well sitting in Andy Tisch's New York office in the mid-90's and participating in the planning for the Forum which began during my National Chair days. It began with staffing by consultants Rabbi Irwin Kula and Gary Tobin, z'l, and has become an annual Summer Retreat in Aspen. It is paid for by the participants and its relationship to the federations has never been made fully clear. It brings top speakers and thought leaders together with these emerging philanthropists. It is self-perpetuating. It has now celebrated its Bar Mitzvah year still without fully connecting the participants and the annual agenda to any real plan for participant engagement with our system. It would be a real "breakthrough" to at long last make that connection.

Fisher FLIGHT Program. Open only to "...a very select group," FLIGHT, the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation's investment in the next generation of "major philanthropic leaders" is now in its "third class." Where are the reports on its successes? Having listened to some of the young men and women in the Program and knowing of the dedication and creativity of UJC's assigned professional leadership, this is a Program worth watching and growing.

Lunch With a Legend. This Program grew out of recommendations of the UJC FRD Study Committee 5-6 years ago. Exposing leaders to the great leaders of our work is a fine idea. It has been a modest effort with similar results. "Breakthrough" -- hardly.

Overseas Boutique Missions. Just words, no actions.

Community Philanthropy Circles. Termed the "latest trend in philanthropy," these are federation-generated activities in which UJC has had no involvement. Publishing the "best practices" growing out of these "Circles" might be nice.

My suggestion: allocate a specific portion of the 2010 UJC Budget to a "new" and real BreakThrough. Instead of telling this generation of leaders that "these are the programs you will use," let the "now generation" leadership itself plan the programming, returning to the Budget & Finance or Executive Committee for specific financial approval. Because, trust me, this "suite of programs" right now is neither the property of the new generation of leaders nor "sweet."


But, there is a more critical question. Why has UJC focused its "next" (or "now") generation efforts at this most narrow slice of potential mega-donors while, but for the Young Leadership Cabinet, offering almost nothing to the rest of the pie -- the vast number of young men and women who we need to find their "home" in the federated community for the federated community to have a future? Where did the debate take place that resulted in designating the so-called "BreakThrough Suite" of scintillating programs listed above as the be-all and end-all for real or potential megadonors? It didn't and it hasn't.

BreakThrough or BrechThrough. Your call.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

JLF is NOT fully "paid for by the participants." Though there is a registration fee, it is subsidized by UJC, hence federations and donors, the majority of whom are not in the mega category.