Monday, December 21, 2009


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?

Just asking.



Anonymous said...

While I don't disagree as to the concept of publishing the allocation levels, I think the 'net of JFNA dues' misses an important historical note. In the "good old days" the cost of UJA was never broken out and always included in the 'UJA allocation' amounts.

Anonymous said...

Beyond advocacy communities must also be investing thoughtful time in "product" development and review -- putting some creative lay and professional talent and effort into substance and not simply the gimmicks of "sales" and marketing.

Anonymous said...

One does not have to address the issue in convoluted ways as suggested. A very simple table will tell the same story even more profoundly. Why should the figure even be a net figure either for JFNA dues or for internal operations. Many, if not most federations, have funds over and above the annual campaign that can be used for allocations and operations. Who is to say that only the annual campaign funds operations?

The table should have four columns. The year, how much was raised nationally in the annual campaign, how much was sent to JAFI, JDC and ORT including core and designated, and what percentage of the national campaign does that represent. JFNA certainly has all of this data.