Thursday, April 28, 2011
In fact, after years of arguing that "the market" should drive allocations, it is doing just that. But...and this is "But" with a capital "B"...that isn't what the small group of leaders who have determined that we need a GPT want or demand. They do not want the market to drive decisions...or the federations; this small group wants JFNA to drive those decisions (under the guise of federations doing so). And, to that end, they ignore the consequences -- to the federation owners, to JAFI and JDC (and, for that matter, the national agencies whose expenditures they also want to control through this "process"), and to JFNA itself.
It's institutional insanity, but JFNA appears wholly willing to throw itself in front of the bus that it is driving. Why? Because it must control all things even as it has demonstrated time and again that it is incapable of executing in almost any activity. Control...for its own sake. Control...to give JFNA a reason for being. JFNA's leaders are already aware that pursuing this "plan" for the GPT will cost it the support of some of its most critical member federations...among them those that have for 11 years provided unquestioning total support. And, yet, these "leaders" continue down a path of self-destruction.
It's all so sad.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
"Let me provide you with some background information:
- The purpose of our Community Impact Grants is to change the thinking of our partner agencies and our Jewish community as a whole. The past history has been institutions not working collaboratively (these grants are forcing collaboration) and new ideas were not coming to the table. Federation can no longer be the 'budget deficit filler.' We must find ways to create new and exciting programs to meet tomorrow's needs and not solely on yesterday's budget woes.
- We are excited that we have received dozens of phone calls from organizations around the world interested in trying new initiatives in Portland...I truly believe our community can be the 'test market' for Jewish America, so why not start new ideas here. Any 501c3 is eligible as long as they partner with a Jewish organization on the ground in Portland. This has opened the doors to new people and new organizations bringing ideas to the table. I am confident we will get incredible proposals with many ideas not thought about in Portland before.
- In regard to your comment about funding, and where will that $300,000 come out of. Well, our intent is to not have it come out of anywhere. We have raised an additional $132,000 in special gifts to help go toward the $300,000 (...over and above annual campaign contributions) -- with more 'asks' outstanding, and our campaign is currently up this year. Donors are excited about the potential for these new initiatives. In the end, we may see a small decrease in our typical agency allocations (not expected to impact overseas allocations at all), yet more dollars will be going into the community (local and overseas) in the end. We have explained, and our agency partners agree, that this may be a 'small short term loss for a larger long-term communal gain.' In addition, many of our partners may, in fact, receive even more money than they would have through a regular allocation cycle due to the extra funding for new (collaborative) projects.
- Portland is still a community that provides 'block grants' to its agencies and does not allocate based on specific programs. We believe this helps to maintain the system as a whole.
- It is important to note that unlike larger Jewish communities, Portland does not have scores of major donors, nor does it have hundreds of millions in endowments and donor-advised funds. We do have a passionate donor base that is seeking to maintain our quality services while also realizing the Jewish world continues to evolve and we must change with it."
LA CA and Portland OR. Contrast and compare. Remember the era of "best practices" -- when JFNA actually knew what was going on in the field?
Monday, April 25, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
The system is in free fall.
Friday, April 15, 2011
~ Some federations never cease to amaze. One of our largest has determined that it won't support an annual and historic grant to the community's Annual Israel Festival. That would have been $20,000. While the event has annually drawn about 10,000 people, the federation called it a "local event" in ending its annual support.Yet that same community can afford a $100,000 reward for the Next Great Big Jewish Idea. Priorities, values? As of right now, the Israel Festival has been canceled.
~ On April 11 I attended a beautiful Memorial Service in New York City honoring the life and works of Yitzchak Shavit, z'l. Each speaker's memory was beautifully done and fully evocative of Itzik's life of commitment and compassion. So many lay leaders were present to remember Itzik -- old friends and partners; even more so, hundreds of the professionals who worked side-by-side with that great and inspiring leader were there. It was so wonderful to see so many of them once again. So many wonderful memories for all of us. Too bad that JFNA's lay leaders couldn't find the time to be there.
~ At that epic JFNA Executive Committee meeting on April 13, where the federation owners stood up and asserted themselves, Michael Lebovitz, the Chattanooga leader who has quietly served as National Philanthropic Resources Chair these past couple of years, announced that TribeFest was such a success that TribeFest II is already being planned. Wow, with even more advance planning than the original, certainly JFNA can lose far more than $250,000 (before including staff overhead or travel) on an event that was at its essence but a further expensive example of JFNA's total self-absorption.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
The wife: "Honey, would you roll over. I need some room."
The husband: "I'm not in bed; I'm in the bathroom, what are you talking about?"
The wife: "Then, who...? Oh my G-d!!! It's Jerry!!!"
Yes, it's the "Secret Silverman Sleepover Tour" -- Jerry's latest strategy to learn more and make new friends. Having visited 78 (+) federations since he became CEO and President, apparently Jerry is now into house calls. And not just any houses, mind you, only the nicest and, apparently, those in the nicest winter climes. No, he hasn't been to my house, but Bobbi and I want to use this Post to invite Jerry any time -- kosher home on top of it (although that appears not to be a criterion), nearby the Nasatir Residence, etc.
So far the "Tour" seems to be strategic -- Jerry has mainly visited the homes of those who can influence Dues decisions in their communities. But it would be unfair of me to suggest ulterior motives to a guy just looking for some quality conversation and...a good night's sleep. Newton's First Law of Physics clearly applies to Jerry -- "an object in motion tends to stay in motion." He takes copious notes (which I applaud) but does he have time to read them?
I won't be revealing whose homes Jerry has graced so far and I don't pretend to know his plans into the future but I don't expect that he will visiting your house or mine any time soon.
Monday, April 4, 2011
The ad itself could have been limited to the critical roles the Conference has been mandated to play. But, in the interests of donor solicitation, the Conference "Fund," in addition to properly claiming the mantle of enhancement of the US-Israel relationship and related matters, broadly claimed to be:
- "Advancing freedom, justice and human rights at home and around the world...
- Combating anti-Semitism and assisting endangered Jewish communities.."
All in pursuit of "UNITY. COMMITMENT. ACTION." Now, Alan Solow and Malcolm Hoenlein could convince me of almost anything but, given the real critical mandated focus of the Conference's work, why exaggerate?
I went to the Conference of Presidents website (linked in the ad) and not only found a better and more limited definition of the Conference's mandate but further exaggeration. I did not know, for example, that the Conference is engaged in "Rescuing Persecuted Jews." Maybe this hyperbole arises out of the Conference rental of office space from the Jewish Agency for Israel in New York. But...its own website describes the Conference well: "For over half a century, the Conference of Presidents has played a key role in American Jewish history. From mass public events to private diplomacy, the Conference has been at the forefront of mobilizing support for Israel and educating the public in times of conflict, and in the pursuit of peace." Dayeinu...or I guess not.
One can debate the propriety of a membership organization openly soliciting donations. One can recall how this activity might have been controlled had JFNA ever actively implemented the Guidelines its Board approved five years ago. One can certainly applaud the Conference's work on our behalf. But, one can also applaud truth in advertising.
Friday, April 1, 2011
I read with interest The Forward front page article (March 11, 2011) -- Did D.C. Editor Lose Her Job Because of Politics? The Washington Jewish Week was purchased seven months earlier by a group that included current, former and future D.C. Federation leaders. These new owners dismissed the long-time editor of the paper, apparently finding the paper insufficiently supportive of the federation. It goes without saying that with the exception of a few owners of newspapers, news content has been considered to be "sacred," safe from the interference of the publication's owners. Even the most strong-willed, as is Sam Zell, who took control of Chicago's Tribune, the LA Times, etc., a while back, have restrained themselves. But not these folks; they own it, they will deal with it as they wish.
Unfortunately, for some, they confuse their federation leadership roles with ownership of the enterprise. They have forgotten the public trust associated with their leadership roles -- that we, the donors and members, are the "owners," "they," our elected leaders, serve the institution and us; they don't own either. Out of this confusion arises so much of the hate and bile addressed to this Blog and this writer. They just don't like to be reminded of their fiduciary obligations.
As I have written before, no one who has been accused of being a source, is one. I have told the CEO time and again that any time that he, the Board Chair and/or Executive Chair want to discuss the Blog with me, all they need do is call me. Never happened, never will. Want the Blog to go away? You know what you have to to do.