Tuesday, July 13, 2010


This is all pretty sad.

Albert Ratner, one of our system's great leaders, one of the few mega-donors once willing to offer his wisdom and commitment to JFNA, led the federations to conclude that the payment of Fair Share Dues would be the sole criterion for JFNA membership. Dues would be determined by a given Federation's Annual Campaign relationship to the aggregate of all Annual Campaigns. A failure to pay Dues, absent real "hardship" as determined by JFNA's Financial Relations Committee, would mean an automatic -- no further governance action required -- termination of membership. The Financial Relations Committee would weigh a given federation's "hardship." The Board approved it all.

How simple.

Working with a great staff, I and other members on the Financial Relations Committee -- among them Joel Alperson, Jay Sarver, Jerry Yanowitz, Herb Gimelstob and others -- with a great professional staff, would consult, sometimes negotiate, with federations approaching Dues default and, almost always, achieve Dues compliance or work out an agreement to assure compliance over a period of years in a spirit of good will and good faith. If UJA or UJC determined a write off of amounts due would be appropriate, such an action was normally accomplioshed only if the community agreed to an equitable overseas allocation going forward. Dues compliance meant something...then.

How simple.

That was then and this is now. The instruments are still in place: a terrific professional supporting the Financial Relations Committee; a Committee with a well-meaning Chair and members anxious to work with the federations. But JFNA's leaders have assured that membership no longer has meaning; that Dues compliance is meaningless; that "hardship" is no longer necessary. Pay what you can, for some it's pay what you want. JFNA will issue an invoice for full Dues -- your percentage responsibility for the JFNA Budget. The message -- pay the Dues if you want or if you can. If not, we'll issue you a debit statement for the difference between the Dues you paid and the amount you didn't with, maybe, a payment plan (that you may adhere to or not) -- you will owe JFNA the difference. JFNA will just go borrow the aggregate unpaid Dues and JFNA's balance sheet will show an ever-growing receivable balance with no reserve for unpaid Dues. They have their blinders on.

How simple.

No federations have hardships any more. Uh uh. No federations are out of compliance the way JFNA now figures it. Membership, in fact no longer carries with it any obligations or responsibilities...and few if any benefits. The reality: membership no longer has any meaning whatsoever. Federations which pay their Dues have no greater rights as federation Members within JFNA as those which do not pay their Dues for whatever the reason. Haven't paid your Dues? It's OK; your lay leaders can become Chairs of our constituencies, get Mission subsidies, serve on our Work Groups and Boards. We don't care. Haven't paid your Dues? It's OK; your professionals can serve on JFNA Panels, attend CPE sessions. After all, we've sent you a bill for the balance due.

Oh, and of course, because what they have done is indefensible, they don't/won't discuss it. Where is Albert when we so desperately need him? (Oh, wait a minute, this leadership doesn't need Albert or anyone else, do they?)

Bye now.


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