Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Some trenchant insights have crossed my desk relating to a number of Posts and some JFNA "stuff." I want to share some of them with you.

1. I wrote about the unfortunate and untimely "Collapse" of Campaigns in two emerging communities that JFNA leaders decided to "abandon." I expressed the possibility that a continuing JFNA presence might have had a positive impact. A leader from one of those communities, said it far better when he/she wrote: "I am convinced that national could have had a dramatic influence for the better, not just 'maybe.' Right now there is no one offering guidance, mentoring and education on the collective responsibility issue. As long as (a) community has no one offering the balance there is no voice representing the needs overseas. These are basically good people who would understand the issue if it were brought to them in a way that was collaborative in spirit but as hard realistic truths that cannot be ignored. This is no longer done by either local lay leadership or local staff. It must come from leadership at national...'speaking truth to power.'"

In JFNA's Draft Budget (yes, as noted in my Budget Post, I have seen it, read it, such as it isn't) there is a plan to educate 50 communal leaders in the overseas/Israel "case." The "educators" will be from JFNA's failed Global Operations area where no one -- lay or professional -- has demonstrated any interest in, and certainly no knowledge of, the subject. One can always hope...but no apparent thought has been given to what will happy to these lonesome 50 when they return to their federations and get eaten alive.

There is a better way; we have suggested it time and again on these pages to no avail. JFNA leaders enthusiastically endorsed advocacy some months ago; in a meeting with JDC and JAFI leaders, Kathy committed herself and the institution to this moral cause; and, then...fade to black.

2. Then there is the annual attempt to make kosher chicken salad from chicken s__t -- the JFNA Annual Report. One Anonymous leader looked at this thing and noted:

" ~ Jewish Heroes -- JFNA claims 40,000 new e-mail addresses (ed. this seems to be down, down, down from the claims made at the time of the Award) presumably from voters which were turned over to the federations. As one of the voters (early and often) I wonder how many of these 40,000 had never before been know to the federation. It is highly unlikely that they are new or how would they have known (of the contest) to vote and why would they have voted? Certainly they were known to the Jewish organization that nominated the candidate for whom they voted (early and often probably). Exactly how much was the total cost to get 40,000 (mainly) duplicated e-mail addresses besides the $25,000 gift to the ultimate 'Hero'?

~ Women's Division -- what is the difference between 24% of 'all Jewish giving' and '22% of the annual campaign'? Does this mean that women give far more than men to other Jewish causes beyond the federation annual campaign> If so, why? What is or should JFNA be doing to capture a larger market share of women's philanthropy?

~ e-philanthropy -- 2605 gifts were made on-line totaling $7.1 million -- average gift of $2,725. This is huge compared to the average gift nationally (probably closer to $1,600 per gift), but how much did it replace from regular sources and how much of it was an increase. It looks like it was a decrease card-for-card -- there were 20% more donors but the total increase was only 10%..."

This correspondent identified the problem with the JFNA statistics. As one analyst has noted, "47% of all statistics are wrong." I sense that our friends at JFNA just threw some numbers at a page and used the ones that stuck.

I once offered Jerry's predecessor that, if he wished, I would act as an anonymous editor of some of the more preposterous stuff published and disseminated from what was then UJC. He, of course, ignored my offer. I make the same offer to JFNA today.

3. In my Post Netanyahu/Karzai...I expressed my disappointment and disillusionment with my President, the Obama Administration and most in the organized Jewish community who remain silent though they are our representatives. Some of you believe, based on your mailings to me that it is my time to .pile on and reprint some of the anti-Obama screed that is in circulation out there on a daily (hourly?) basis. Please know: that's not what I do.
4. With you I watched the brilliant PBS production Sunday night of The Diary of Anne Frank. Saw the 15 second JFNA ad before and after the film. It was a well-stated message for the federations and Network. What did those 30 seconds cost us?

5. Back in the day (just a few years ago), the Jewish Funders Network would not allow the Planned Giving and Endowment professionals from what is now JFNA (and, I believe, from the federations as well) to attend its annual Funders Conference. This year, among other leaders, Jerry Silverman was a speaker. How times change -- sometimes for the good. At one and the same time, the cynic in me suggests that the leaders of the JFN see JFNA as so weakened that a capacious void exists in the Jewish firmament and that the JFN can fill it. If my cynicism is in fact correct, JFN is being opportunistic while our Neros continue to fiddle away.

I think I hear a dirge.


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