After publishing ADVOCACY LIGHT, a local and national leader wrote me. He allowed me to publish his Comment anonymously. This is what he wrote:
"Your comment on advocacy misses a key concept. In today's federation world, lay and professional leadership often appear to only focus on the size of the annual campaign. Allocations, whether local or overseas or even designated, are just a result of the amount of available dollars. In other words, and I realize this is a generalization, too few in most communities even know where there money goes; and even fewer leaders know the percentage of funds that are sent overseas. On the other hand, I have spoken with major donors in many federations who believe that 'about 40-50%' of their contributions 'go to Israel.' As those few who have access to the numbers know, the amount most large cities allocate is less than 30% of net revenues (in the best cases and with a few outliers). Reconciling this apparent disconnect with the actual allocations isn't an issue of advocacy; it is a matter of transparency and integrity. Masking the amount of JFNA Dues (the very significant percentage of annual campaign that is a national organizational tax) is just another element in this issue that is usually aggregated in the amount communities report as their 'overseas allocation.'
Unless the focus of local federation leadership shifts to measuring its success by the amount of funds allocated overseas, and I don't think anyone believes that this is possible, urging advocacy is fruitless. I have a simple suggestion: Publish each community's overseas allocation for the past 3 years, net of JFNA Dues, so that donors, leadership and beneficiaries can have a meaningful, informed debate. Only when this has occurred will advocacy be effective."
What my friend may not know is how his suggestion has been anticipated by several Large City CEOs -- with no response from the then UJC. Further, his surmise as to the "impression" of most donors, was tested by then UJA and found to be true. What would lead donors to believe that "around 50%" of their pledge amount was "going to Israel" when, in fact, in some places less than 20% is. And what impact would there be if donors knew the facts?