Monday, March 7, 2011


We had some hope -- minimal though it was -- that when JFNA brought Paul Kane, the "seasoned" campaigner from New York UJA-Federation, that he might energize JFNA's Development (or, pardon me, Philanthropic Resources) activity for and on behalf of the federations. We were wrong. Question: does Paul even communicate with federations like mine...or yours? (Does he return your calls?) Paul appears to view his main function, at least in his public appearances, as extolling the virtues of his CEO and President. In fact, JFNA appears to be less engaged in any aspect of financial resource development than at any time in the history of our national institution and its predecessors.

Best I could tell, senior Philanthropic Resources professionals were "dedicated," more or less full time, to the "success" of the TribeFest -- a curious reassignment at best. Now, at least one (to Birthright Israel), and perhaps more, of the best FRD pros has or will be leaving JFNA altogether. Oh, we'll be hearing about how he/she/they had an offer he/she/they could not refuse, but, trust your instincts here my readers, dedicated professionals are leaving, at least in part, because they see no commitment to FRD at JFNA. (And, you might ask, where is the voice of lay leadership on the lack of FRD focus at JFNA? Silent, of course -- sad...very sad)

One of the contributions that JFNA has made in the area of FRD, albeit as an outgrowth of the excellent FRD Study of seven or eight years ago, was the development and schooling of federation professional staffs in the implementation of the "collaborative fund raising model." In fact, as recently as the JFNA Board Retreat, Max Kleinman, MetroWest's terrific CEO and President, reported on the success of his federation in the area of collaboration. Yet, at the recent Endowment Professionals confab, there was significant objection to any and every mention of the annual campaign effort -- even to the use of the word "campaign" itself. And even though collaboration had been at the heart of JFNA's FRD work with Federations, at that meeting of professionals, the JFNA endowment pros offered no defense of the value of collaboration...none. Silent and intimidated, of course.

The prior JFNA administration amused itself with deprecating the federation annual campaigns --you know, the very campaigns that produce the money for, e.g., JFNA Dues. The current version of JFNA leadership has made the "annual campaign" nothing more than a couple of bad words -- words they rarely if ever utter. I am not sure if these folks can even connect the dots between annual campaign and allocations.

This is what it has come to, chevre. JFNA has reduced itself into a senseless set of exercises in the trivial -- #ish, Heroes, TribeFest, Global Planning Table (ONAD revisited) and the like. Its lay and professional leaders have wholly failed to define the organization's five top priorities. Their self-definition of JFNA as a "network" of social welfare and hands-on volunteer efforts isn't close to reality. My youngest son, many years ago, stood up in the midst of a horrible and loooong movie we had dragged him to and screamed: "WHAT IS THIS THING ALL ABOUT????" EXACTLY. May we have your share of $30.3 million please?

Let me make this crystal clear if I haven't in previous Posts: the vast majority of Federations want JFNA's help with their annual campaign and endowment efforts. And...they aren't getting that help. If we aren't about that help, we are about nothing.

Pretty sad.



Anonymous said...

As a former pro who left "for a better opportunity", I can tell you that you are 100% right. Federations need help from JFNA in fundraising and not more events and stupid marketing ideas! I left the field because personally I dont like being on a sinking ship!

Anonymous said...

Yes, JFNA is indeed a sinking ship upon which the "professionals" again and yet again futiley re-arrange the deck chairs.