Monday, December 13, 2010


If you are like me, the mere thought of a discussion of changes to your federation's By-Laws cause your eyes to glaze over with an order that day-dreaming begin. I remember one Chicago Federation Board member who used to take up hours (seemed like days) in dotting every "i" of each and "every" proposed change. These were mind-numbing discussions but a failure to discuss the seemingly innocuous can devastate a non-profit. Take, for example, the proposed By-Law changes to be voted on December 16 by the JFNA Board.

They are seemingly innocuous -- some ostensibly designed to put an end to the ONAD "era" once and for all. But that's not all. As written, these changes would assure without more that at some point in the future no matter how your federation or mine, your donors or ours, wish the funds they send to JFNA to be distributed, it will be JFNA, through some undefined "Global Planning Table," which will determine where and how the core funds heretofore to flow to JAFI and JDC will be allocated. In other words, ONAD goes away on December 16 (it actually was put to sleep forever several years ago) only to be revived "rebranded" with all of its faults, its failure guaranteed. More about that in a moment.

Further, it appears that the draftspersons (or has it been just dictation?) overreached further. Another By-Law change could be interpreted to result in the JFNA run Overseas Endowment, if JFNA collapsed and dissolved, the funds therein applied to pay off the debts of JFNA -- available to JFNA's creditors as if the donors to that endowment intended it that way. Terrible.

One sign of insanity, best evidenced (as I often remind myself) on the pages of this Blog, is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Add to that this other sign of insanity: taking something that failed, rebranding it and expecting a different result. So, erase ONAD and then construct something called the "Global Planning Table" on its ashes -- with the same goals, the same participants, probably the same lead professional and tell everyone "this time things will be different." Given that the JFNA leaders of this effort had no involvement in ONAD and, apparently, haven't studied the 5 years of ONAD's failure, the millions of dollars in costs imposed upon JAFI and JDC in the ONAD "process." What these leaders want and see is a "new evolution" to allocations dictated by JFNA no matter the cost and the replication of a failed effort that almost destroyed our system.

So, bottom line, By-Laws are important. I figure these will be approved on December 16 without discussion.


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