The Jewish Federations of North America has reported that its data evidence that the aggregate of federation 2009 annual campaigns will drop by $100 million. That wipes out at least five years of increases. JFNA reports...when it comes to the Annual Campaign, that's what it does. In these catastrophic circumstances there was at least the hope, generated by a mid-September meeting (NOT JUST A GOOD START...A GREAT START) among UJC, JAFI and JDC leadership. The hope of that meeting has been dashed by a failure to follow up.
Jerry Silverman made cash pleas in his message on December 24 and in a follow-up to Federation CEOs. The pleas were based on the projection of even more pathetic results -- $100 million to JAFI -- a 25% reduction in core funding from the prior year -- and only $31 million to JDC for core, down $8 million. This is catastrophic. In The Jewish Federations of North America's first year, JAFI received $185 million to core; ten years later, this amount had reduced down by 46%. And there remains no real advocacy effort. Remember, the merger that created UJC was purchased in part with the promise of greater resources for the historic partners.
And what did The Jewish Federations of North America do? Well, Jerry made his pleas -- a week before year-end. And, while there appeared to be a commitment was made to organize a tripartite cash collections effort in which lay and professional leaders of JFNA, JDC and JAFI would target communities and engage in intensive cash collection efforts through the last quarter 2009 -- didn't happen. None of the organizations wanted to be caught up short again as they were at year-end 2008 when cash collections fell $17 million less than UJC had projected.
When 2008 ended on such a disastrous note, it was clear to so many that 2009 would see a further precipitous drop. On these pages I pled that the then UJC start the year with a new cash and allocations focus. I and others urged that a lay-driven cash effort start in January 2009, not in September and certainly not at all. There was no response until September when Jerry arrived and Kathy Manning appeared determined to refocus JFNA efforts.
And just what happened since that September meeting? NOTHING. ZERO. NADA. Not one lay or professional leader of JAFI or JDC was called on to help in a planful meaningful way. The promise of September wiped out in the reality of December 31.
Why? Do the new leaders believe that they can go it alone...that they need no help? Then they must prove it. Jerry already knows better. But...if they truly believe in the power of the partnership to which they rededicated themselves in words, then they must show that rededication in their actions. My fear is that while JFNA leaders are personally pained in their hearts by the drop in Campaign and the impact of that failure on cash collections, and while they are personally pained by the realities, they have a sense of noblesse oblige as to all things federation, they don't consider this (a) their problem or (b) a JFNA responsibility or (c) that intervention could possibly help. If they did they would have done something about it. So, here we are again. And, "here' is a bad place to be.
Some have suggested, independent of the recommendations in prior Posts and in Comments thereto, that peer pressure be brought to bear by publicizing each individual federation's annual campaign results, cash payments and allocations. My cynicism suggests that this won't happen -- the federations that fail in their responsibilities will not permit it. And, even were this transparency to occur, when would it -- in 2010, a year that could be even worse?
We once had a powerful cash collections effort - not just in halcyon days of yore at UJA but in the more recent past of the Jewish Federations of North America when the lay and professional leaders of the Financial Relations Committee worked together in an annual partnership on year-end collections. There is a playbook for that collections effort. Why that effort has cratered as if it never existed only those responsible can possibly attest. All I can attest to is that over history that Cash effort worked (if anyone wants to know how, give me a call); the reality of today is that it doesn't and we knew it and we did nothing about it.
A Happy 2010!