Monday, March 1, 2010


I have kvetched from time-to-time about the lack of transparency at an organization we created with transparency in mind. In the February 1, 2010 The New Yorker, there is a great cartoon -- a group of well-dressed folks sitting around a Board table being told by their leader: Let's never forget that the public's desire for transparency has to be balanced by our need for concealment. How appropriate to our discussion of recent actions at JFNA that follows.

First, Dues. The Budget and Finance Committee received a chart of "Fair Share Payment Pattern" transmitted by Treasurer Heschel Raskes at the end of January -- in fact the transmittal date suggests that it was sent to the Committee immediately in advance of their meeting in Dallas. (N.B., the "material is CONFIDENTIAL" -- emphasis in the original. I received it from a responsible professional.) I won't reproduce the material, merely note that only 36 communities pay Dues monthly -- 36/157 = 23% of our federations pay their Dues responsibly. Of the 19 Large Cities, 37%, do so. More federations, many more, pay once a year (presumably at the end) than pay their Dues monthly. It is a shanda -- BUT IT'S CONFIDENTIAL. Nobody's business. I could disclose more -- for the data evidence wholesale abuse of the Dues process which is based on trust and communal integrity -- but I will leave that to JFNA to disclose. Of course, you might ask....

The Budget and Finance Committee has a well-prepared analysis. It is to Heschel's and the professionals' credit that they have the data. The question now is: what will they do with it?

Then there are the responses to my Post about Dues -- The Past Isn't Dead.... One careful reader of the Blog, with a deep and keen insight into our system observed that "Fair share dues should be based on a percentage of the allocation, not a percentage of the campaign. In this way JFNA would also face a 31% decline in its income." Pretty draconian, don't you think? But such a formula would certainly encourage JFNA to engage in some real allocations advocacy wouldn't it? So then a reader wrote: "...another way to look at it is that JFNA is spending some $35 million (+/-) of about $185 million. ($150 million to the partnersand $30-$35 million to JFNA.) This looks like a percentage approaching 16%-18% of all funds that leave a community."

Then my friend has a more specific suggestion:

"It seems to me there could be a very practical recommendation. JFNA should at the beginning of the year send out a form to every Federation chief volunteer and chief professional officer. The form would be as follows:

Please fill out and submit with every payment to JFNA during the year.

For the current year your Dues to JFNA are $________ (by formula to be filled in by JFNA)

The national average of overseas funding for your community's City-size group of federations is 30% of gross annual campaign. Your requested overseas allocation based on your community's campaign achievement is $________.

Remittance to JFNA:

Please distribute our payment to one or more of the following categories:

JFNA Dues = $________ (to be filled in with payment)

Overseas Funding: (JFNA recommends that your community allocate 30% of your gross average campaign for the last three (3) years) -- $______________

1. Amount of core funding (by decision of the federation it should be 85% of all funding for Overseas after JFNA Dues): $____________ . (At one time during the ONAD process a formula was adopted at 90% core - 10% elective/designated. This adopted formula was ignored.)

2. Amount of Designated funding (at the duiscretion of the community to one of the following organizations) and project if known:

JAFI $____________

JDC $____________

World ORT $____________

ENP $____________

Total Remittance:$ ________________ "

I, and my federation, remain staunch supporters of a well-funded JFNA -- one that has the funds necessary to do its work leading, convening, experimenting, collaborating. Is it too much to ask in return for accountability, for transparency, for the trust of those in power at Jewish Federations of North America in us while they seek our trust in them? Just asking.



Anonymous said...

"I, and my federation, remain staunch supporters of a well-funded JFNA -- one that has the funds necessary to do its work leading, convening, experimenting, collaborating."

you forgot twittering

RWEX said...

I did forget twittering -- an area in which JFNA is already a leader.

Anonymous said...

twitters do not a leader make
nor a facebook scrawl a face to face solicitation be