Wednesday, January 13, 2010


We all remember in the aftermath of the Nigerian terrorist's failed attempt to destroy Northwest Flight 153, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano's now historic rewrite of history -- "the system worked" when, so clearly, "the system" had failed. When The Jewish Federations of North America delivered $103.4 million to JAFI at year-end rather than the projected $100 million, perhaps there were those who echoed Napolitano -- after all, rather than a a 25% reduction in cash from the 2008, it was only a 22% reduction. Congrats all around. And JFNA waited almost two weeks to "trumpet" the results -- why?

Yes, some take solace in the fact that both JAFI and the Joint enjoyed increased designated project funding in 2009 -- in the Agency's case, a 15% increase; for the Joint, 13.3% -- while core was devastated for the second straight year. But those increases were the direct result of JAFI/JDC efforts with the federations -- JFNA only tallied the results. Others will assert that as the aggregate of annual campaigns in 2009 fell by almost $100 million the fact that JAFI/JDC saw allocations reduced by only 22% should be a cause for celebration. Sorry, folks but the percentage reductions suffered by JAFI/JDC were nearly double those suffered in the campaigns just ended (which were down in the aggregate by 12%).

And, please understand that much of the 2009 campaign shortfalls will play out in calendar year 2010 allocations. The Jewish Federations of North America stood on the sidelines in the allocations processes and only urged greater cash in last minute appeals last year. Will the new leadership join the issue in 2010? As I have written, leaving allocations (and, presumably, cash collections) to the Development leadership may give those lay and professional leaders something to do in 2010 -- but only if they truly partner with the Agency and Joint leadership from January 1 forward...and that's just not happened -- yet. Wouldn't it have been far better to have accompanied these sorry results with a statement of JFNA's commitment from this day forward to engage with our partners in a focused cash and allocations advocacy effort? Of course.

So, to all those who believe that "the system worked" -- just how, exactly?


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