Monday, January 18, 2010


In November 2005, Sonny Plant, z'l, concluded his leadership of a study of ONAD. The Report issued over Sonny's name has been discussed in many venues and its topic will be before the so-called JFNA "Split" Work Group at its meeting with JAFI and JDC this week. Hopefully the members of this Work Group have been given this Report -- if not I provide it as a "public service" because, in truth, its conclusions "findings, principles and recommendations" have been ratified in their totality by the sorry history since the Report issued.



Morton B. Plant, Chair

November 10, 2005


The ONAD process was established in 1999 as part of the establishment of United Jewish Communities. Its charge, function, and structure were set in some detail in the Documents for NEWCO. Among the stipulations was a review of the ONAD process after three rounds of its existence.

In 2004, Morton B. Plant was asked to chair this review. Critical steps in the review have included (a) extended sessions with five focus groups, (b) a number of discussions (formal and informal) among leaders of UJC, JAFI and JDC, (c) periodic reports to UJC governance structures, and (d) reports to groups of federation leaders. Out of these exchanges, a set of principles and recommendations has emerged. The purpose of this paper is to present these. The UJC Executive Committee reviewed this paper at its meeting of September 11, and will continue to play this function until final action by the UJC Board of Trustees. As duly constituted governance entities representing UJC/Federation leadership, the Executive Committee and Board are the appropriate structures for such an important process.

The term of the principles and recommendations contained in this paper is for the two years from July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2008.

Findings and Principles

Based on six years of experience with the ONAD process, the following findings and principles are particularly salient:

Role of UJC

 UJC is owned by and accountable solely to the federations. Accordingly, its perspective must be global in scope, with full recognition of the local, domestic, national, continental and worldwide nature of the needs of the Jewish people. In its work with the overseas agenda and overseas entities, UJC represents the federation movement. UJC is obligated to advocate for the interest and views of the federations vis-à-vis JAFI and JDC.

 A primary goal of the federations’ and UJC’s overseas work is to maximize our collective effectiveness in caring for the vulnerable, deepening Jewish identity, and building our relationship with the people of Israel. To advance these goals, UJC and the federations have longstanding partnerships with JAFI, JDC, and, to a more limited extent, ORT. These partnerships are of cornerstone importance. UJC and the federations deeply value this partnership and should promote our mutual interests.

 UJC's parent organizations – CJF, UJA and UIA – had different roles and responsibilities. CJF was responsible to the federations, and UJA was responsible to JAFI (through UIA) and JDC. As part of the establishment of UJC, JAFI and JDC ceded control of UJA to the federations and UJC assumed the role of representing global Jewish needs and responsibilities. A critical role of UJC is to advocate for all Jewish needs. As a national organization, UJC is inherently and uniquely well positioned to engage in advocacy for overseas needs and otherwise assist federations to deepen their commitment to them.

 The ONAD process was successful in a number of important ways. It increased the understanding of key federation leaders regarding overseas needs and issues; it deepened their commitment to responding constructively to these needs; and it provided a meaningful accountability structure. Any future process should continue and augment these assets.

 The collective core allocations to JAFI and JDC have been steadily decreasing for more than a decade. The ONAD Committee was accordingly unwilling to change the allocation of the collective core between JAFI and JDC. Until the collective core allocation increases, it is unrealistic for the federation movement to determine the uses of the current level of the collective core. On the other hand, it is critical that representative federations have a meaningful dialogue, including a full exchange of views, with JAFI and JDC regarding the uses of the collective core. Moreover, it is appropriate for the federation movement and individual federations to determine the uses of other funds (including community electives and fundraising initiatives).

 UJC's roles should be to (a) advocate and educate federations regarding overseas needs and services, (b) raise or help federations, in collaboration with JAFI, and JDC, to raise more funds for high-priority uses, one of the most compelling and urgent of which is overseas needs, (c) provide to federations information, consultation and a forum for coalescing their input and deepening their understanding and commitment, (d) in collaboration with the overseas providers, develop an understanding of the needs and strategic directions, (e) advocate for sustained annual campaign allocations and help shape and promote initiatives to attract additional funding for high impact efforts in the overseas arena, (f) identify high-priority uses for directed funds, develop strategies and specific products for federations and (g) through the above, create a new reality within the overseas agenda. JAFI and JDC should take appropriate roles in the relevant UJC structures and activities.

Minimum Overseas Allocation and Compliance

 Federation funding for overseas needs has decreased both in actual dollar terms and as a percentage of the annual campaign. It should be noted that the rate of decrease was significantly less in the five years following the establishment of the UJC (the ONAD period) than in the five years preceding – even without taking into account the Israel Emergency Campaign.

 Nevertheless, since 2001, the core provided by federations went down by a bit more than 4.5% -- even though the annual campaign is up 4% since 2000. This is despite the fact that overseas needs are as compelling as ever. With increasing poverty in Israel and continuing needs (both social welfare and Jewish identity) in the Former Soviet Union and elsewhere in the Jewish world, this is the time to increase resources, and particularly the collective core.

 During the ONAD period, most of the decrease in the core was due to the allocations decisions of a small number of federations. In general, there is a very large variance in the percentage of gross campaign allocated overseas by federations. Including fair share, this variance – just for the large and large intermediate federations – ranges from 17% to 43%. This wide variance of support means that some federations are shouldering disproportionate shares of the system’s collective responsibility to overseas needs. Each federation has the right to expect other federations to be faithful to the reciprocal obligations that bind us together.

 The federation system is a voluntary system. UJC and, prior to the merger, UJA have been unable to enforce a system wide voluntary standard regarding the overseas allocation. Leadership bears the responsibility for facing such realities squarely.

 In this context, this proposal should be submitted to the appropriate UJC body for determination as to whether the request of federations should be binding.

Collective Core Funding, Community Elective Funding, and Fundraising Initiatives

 The annual campaign for unrestricted dollars is at the essence of the federation system - both as an expression of community and as its lifeblood. The campaign is and remains the most critical resource for the Federation-UJC partnership with JAFI and JDC, enabling them to meet these needs.

 Collective and undesignated organizational support (provided primarily through the campaign) is vital for the system's ability to achieve its aspirations. Just as every federation and UJC depend on undesignated core funds to assure basic operational support, so do JAFI and JDC. The core should remain the fundamental allocation to JAFI and JDC. It is of critical importance to JAFI and JDC's ability to provide effective services to those in need. If electives become the sole means of support, day-to-day operations would not be sustainable.

 Experience has proven that it is extraordinarily difficult to change the uses of the current collective core through public decision-making processes, because they tend to polarize positions and engender conflict. For a consensus-driven system, polarization and conflict do not lead to resolution.

 In contrast, it is much more feasible for federations (acting individually and collectively through UJC) to develop strategic directions with regard to new funds. In many federations, community electives have engendered strong commitment, expressed both in funding and community building.

 Many donors - both individuals and federations - have the capacity to provide resources beyond what they are willing to provide in unrestricted annual campaign gifts and community "ONAD" allocations.

Special Fundraising Initiatives

 Directed giving is an important and largely untapped potential strategy for increasing resources. “Topped-out" or even uncommitted potential donors may be likely to fund clearly defined projects than undesignated support.

 Special fundraising initiatives, approved by the UJC Board, are accordingly a critical facet of UJC's funding strategy. In close coordination with federations, UJC has developed the structure and strategy for such an effort, including direct fundraising, and is committed to moving forward in close collaboration with JAFI, JDC, ORT and the ENP to increase funding.

 It is critically important that UJC, in close collaboration with JAFI and JDC, develop a select set of clear and compelling projects for special fundraising as a means of increasing overseas support, without compromising the critical nature of the collective core. The high priorities for fundraising initiatives approved by the UJC Board include absorbing Ethiopian Jews, caring for Jewish elderly in the FSU and fostering Jewish identity in the FSU and elsewhere in the Jewish world, and other possible overseas concerns (for example, the anti-poverty agenda in Israel and the development of the Negev and Galil). Operation Promise is an example of this approach. UJC, JAFI and JDC may want to consider the development of a special, interagency approach to advancing this goal.

 There have been too many conflicts within the system, impeding its ability to achieve shared goals. A new partnership of collaborative fundraising among and between UJC, JAFI and JDC should lead to more receptivity on the part of federations and donors.

JAFI, JDC, ORT and ENP as System’s Sole Providers

 Because of the system's historic and continuing commitment and partnership with these organizations, no other organization or entity should be eligible for funds at the initiative of UJC unless it is to or through one of the above organizations and entities.


The following are key points reflecting the proposed system for raising and allocating overseas funds for two years, beginning on July 1, 2006 (when the current ONAD resolution expires) through June 30, 2008.

Basic Request

 At this time of compelling overseas needs, all federations should increase their level of their ONAD allocation.

 In particular, those federations currently providing a below median percentage of their allocation should develop and implement a clear plan for reaching the median. That plan should include increases in the core allocation, the overall ONAD allocation, and special fundraising initiatives. This plan could be the basis of a dialogue between each such federation and the system (taking the form of an appropriate entity within UJC). Such a dialogue should take into account the totality of relevant factors, including the history of the federation, the community’s nature as an emerging, stable or declining community, and any special problems.


 In appointing individuals to leadership positions within UJC’s overseas structures, preference shall be given to individuals from federations meeting the request set forth in this resolution.

 UJC should consider reassessing its overall policy regarding collective responsibility, including consequences for those federations not meeting such requests.

 This proposal should be submitted early in 2006 to the appropriate UJC body for a vote on its binding nature. If approved, the request will be deemed binding, with the possibility of sanctions (including expulsion) for federations that do not comply.

Collective Core and Community Elective Funding

 The amount of collective core funding should continue at the minimum of the current level. All federations should be encouraged to provide as much to the collective core out of their increasing overseas allocations as they can. Federations providing overseas allocations (as a percentage of their gross campaign) at a level above the median will, however, have the option of using any overseas funding over and above their current year’s allocation as electives. For those federations providing overseas allocations at a level below the median, any overseas funding over and above their current year’s allocation should be divided between the collective core and community electives at a ratio of at least 2:1. In other words, at least two thirds of their increased overseas allocations should be for the core, and one third available as electives.

 UJC, working with JAFI, JDC and ORT, should seek to improve its effectiveness in explaining to federations the uses of core funds. In that connection, JAFI, JDC and ORT should provide UJC a detailed schedule presenting the uses of core funds.

 JDC and JAFI will negotiate de novo, without preconditions, a new agreement concerning the distribution of core funds between the two organizations for the two years covered by this resolution, July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2008.

 If no agreement is reached by February 1, 2006, UJC will nominate an individual to serve as a mediator, JAFI will nominate an individual to serve as a mediator, and JDC will nominate an individual to serve as a mediator. The parties will continue to negotiate with the help of the mediators until an acceptable agreement is reached. The UJC mediator will be accountable to the UJC Board.

 It is also important for there to be an appropriate context for senior UJC and Federation leadership to reflect on the JAFI/JDC proposal prior to consideration by the UJC Board. The group should consist of the chief lay and professional officers of the federations with the two largest campaigns and of those federations chairing each of the four city sizes. The precise location of this group participation within the UJC structure is yet to be determined.

The group should meet, consult with the leadership of JAFI and JDC as needed, to permit federations to: (a) understand the issues facing JAFI and JDC, (b) understand the thinking behind the JAFI/JDC agreement, (c) raise issues and provide any other input regarding the proposed agreement, and, at the election of the participating federations, (d) develop a recommendation to the UJC Board with regard to the draft agreement.

Nothing in this section should be construed as limiting in any way the access of JAFI and JDC working together to present their agreement as they deem fit directly to the UJC Board.

 The final agreement will be submitted to the UJC Board of Trustees for action, without amendment unless approved by JDC and JAFI. If a majority of the UJC Board votes against the agreement, JDC and JAFI will modify the terms of the agreement and resubmit it to the UJC Board.

NYANA and ORT Core Allocations

 The core allocations to NYANA and ORT are sums certain.

 The core allocation to NYANA has been in decline since the initiative of the ONAD process. Unless there is an increase in the number of refugees, the general expectation is that the NYANA allocation will continue to diminish every year. Specifically, in each of the fiscal years covered by this resolution, the allocation will be cut by $75,000 – to $1,425,000 in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2006 and to $1,350,000 in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2007.

 The core allocation to ORT will continue to be $3,606,000 for each of the two years covered by this resolution.

JAFI, JDC, ORT and ENP as Sole Beneficiaries of ONAD Elective Funds and UJC Board-Approved Initiatives

 JAFI, JDC and the ENP should remain the only entities eligible to receive elective funds. JAFI, JDC, the ENP and ORT should continue to be eligible for elective funds representing new money over the 2004 base year.

 JAFI and JDC are urged to continue and to augment their efforts to collaborate with each other and with other organizations and service providers.

 Funds raised by UJC through initiatives adopted by the UJC Board will be allocated, as in the core and elective, only to or through JAFI, JDC, ORT, and the ENP.

Institutional Notes

 During the two years that these proposed recommendations are in effect, UJC will play the roles outlined in the principles section of this document.

 At the end of the first year of the two-year period, a review process should be reestablished to review experience and consider next steps, if any (both as to process and substance).

During the two-year period, there is no need for the kind of needs assessment or decision making with which the ONAD Committee was charged. There is therefore no need for the ONAD Committee to resume function for the duration of this resolution. However, the Israel and Overseas Pillar will be asked to assess specific needs and, in collaboration with other parts of UJC, develop strategies for meeting them. Moreover, it should take responsibility for helping to deepen the knowledge and understanding of federation leaders (especially the chief lay and professional officers) regarding overseas issues, needs and programs." (emphasis added)

So, what did the then UJC leadership do with the Plant Report? It ignored its entirety. In fact, the lay and professional leaders of The Jewish Federations of North America acted in total disregard of the adopted conclusions of the Plant Report. Because Sonny's Report (adopted by the UJC Board) was at odds with the "narrative" of the UJC "story" as that fiction was being rewritten by the prior leadership, and because Sonny was no longer with us to assert his findings, the Report was shelved and those who reminded UJC's leaders of its existence were shelved as well.

Let's not make the same mistake twice or even three or four times. Read the Plant Report and reflect on what could have been over the past 4-1/2 years and weep for where we are. And, then, learn from our mistakes.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have 20 minutes serious talking time with a potential federation donor. You give her your best soundbites on what our overseas partners do. Intrigued, she goes back and looks at their web sites.She is overwhelmed and confused and maybe even turned off by complaints of shortfalls. (what non profit isn't hurting?) JFNA may have created a vacuum but our partners have filled it with a maze of slogans about doing everything imaginable and going broke along the way.