Sunday, November 7, 2010


Kathy, Kathy, Kathy...I have my hand raised. I have a question. She won't call on me...but I will ask it anyway: "Back in December, almost one year ago now, you, Michael and Jerry presented 'the JFNA 2009-2010 goals.' I am certain you remember them. Wouldn't this GA be the perfect place to discuss those goals in light of our achievements since then?"

OK, it's a good question, I think, but I'm not there. So to be helpful, I will condense a 25 slide Power Point (still available at if you wish to "read along.") So, follow the bouncing ball:

Position the Jewish Federations of North America as the premier and preeminent non-profit organization in the world. Now this wasn't about your federation or mine, chevre, this was all about JFNA. And JFNA was going to do this through the famous "five areas of focus" (you remember, the ones Jerry spoke about to your federation if he visited) -- "Power of the Collective," "Positioning for the Future," "Financial Resource Development," "Israel and Overseas" and "Talent."

So, as to the Power of the Collective -- "reenergize, excite and engage the Jewish community around collective address critical needs of the Jewish people. Develop a system and culture based more on collaboration than compliance." Well, there have been no collective actions, collaboration or compliance. In fact within three weeks of the meeting where this was presented, the JFNA "cash collection systems" more or less disintegrated from a lack of any lay-professional national cash collaboration.

Then there was to be a collective Sample initiative -- "the Passport to Jewish Life." This was to be a "...system-wide outreach and engagement effort to enable Jewish... families to pursue their Jewish journeys through financial incentives and concierge-stewardship services." Maybe I missed it...but I don't think it quite happened.

Or an initiative to "Survey survivor population to discover individual needs and Shoah Survivor Services campaign including pairing up individual survivors with Next Gen..." I missed that one too...but, where did the idea even come from?

To me all this proved was that this leadership wholly failed to understand "the Collective" whatsoever -- the values and principles of the Collective -- nowhere to be found. But...that's OK, they accomplished nothing within this Area of Focus that I could discern. So much for accountability on that score...let's move on...

Then, in the area of Engagement there would be "[S]trategic coordination of opportunities for the consumer and for federation to support Jewish literacy and create a sense of belonging..." Missed it.

OK -- so...nothing. Let's move on to Positioning for the Future.

The Power Point started with "Execute clear messaging platforms" with the goal of "Strong PR and articulation of our Mission, areas of focus and impact," Based on the the samples of Collective Initiatives above, I guess we aren't quite there.

Then there was this beaut -- "Refine branding and marketing of the Annual Campaign and the development product portfolio" with the goal of positioning the "...Annual Campaign to meet needs of broader community and target segments." I know that one must have just blown by me. I recall a few weeks ago we eliminated from our nomenclature FRD and campaign because we are now all about "Philanthropic Resources" but what about the 2009-2010 strategy and goals? Noble intent, sure.

Now, here's one we hit "out of the park" -- "Launch a series of social networking initiatives." Sure Heroes and #ish, right? Well, not so much. The goal for this one was to "[P]osition the Jewish Federations as inclusive, broad based 'tent' that helps nurture community engagement and connection." Best I can tell, no one at JFNA has been able to explain why the investment..the continuing these social networking initiatives has provided no evident "community engagement and connection." Why is that, Kathy? Could you explain?

I could go on but you get the message. There were noble ambitions for 2009-2010. (And, as an aside, the only "Challenge/Opportunity" for Israel and Overseas was to "[F]ocus on resolving Jewish Agency/JDC allocation split issue" with the "Goal" -- a"[N]ew allocation mechanism(s) for collective funds in place" by year-end. OMG!!) You got your $30.3 million worth? Or something close?

So here we are. Gathered in New Orleans. Guess we won't be talking about the failure to achieve a single "sample goal" in the Five Areas of Focus, will we? We'll pretend they never existed...and we'll just move on...and on...and on.

If you would like a further refresher course, same results, the old cast, see my Post -- Priorities -- March 31, 2010. There we reviewed the last attempt (that was only five, count 'em, five...months before those Priorities of JFNA were abandoned for these priorities of JFNA. ) Round and round we go, where we stop....

Kathy, Kathy, Kathy...I have another question!!


1 comment:

paul jeser said...

From today's FUNDERMENTALIST newsletter:

"The JFNA had initially planned a Shabbaton for those who wanted to come to the Big Easy a little early. But in the end, wary of overloading participants, the organization dropped any planned programming and merely offered prayer services -- both traditional and egalitarian -- as well as Friday night dinner and Saturday lunch."

Back in 'the day' it was such Shabbatonim that we had the chance to learn from some of the greats.

How sad!