Thursday, May 12, 2011


Today, the JFNA Board will "discuss the imperative" of the Global Planning Table.

JFNA and any number of federations seem either not to believe or not care that major mega-philanthropic families have told JFNA and their federation leaders directly that if the GPT moves forward as designed by and for JFNA, their annual campaign gifts will be lost. The unwarranted, undeserved and wholly inappropriate institutional arrogance that presaged this result would, if continued, not only doom the Global Planning Table but the very system to which these philanthropists have devoted their lives and to which their federations have been dedicated. But, knowing the makeup of the JFNA institutional "personality," the organization's "leaders" could care less. There is a lesson in this for all of us.

Because of federation backlash to the "GPT model" placed on the table at a series of "Regional feedback" sessions, the GPT, once proposed as a fait accompli, has now been relegated to the status of "work in progress" to be presented today as undefined and benign. JFNA's leaders had planned to shove this proposal down the federations' throats at the May 12 Board meeting; the "feedback" was so informed and strong, that these "leaders" decided that they would not yet risk deconstructing the system at this moment and, to their credit, took the GPT off the table for the May meeting. (The timeline for the GPT presumed a May approval. Now, it's June.)

Yet, JFNA's leaders still insist that there is some sort of "imperative" (their word) for a GPT of their design, the negative feedback notwithstanding. So they now mask their intent in benign language, by suggesting an artifice that the GPT will not be ONAD even though none of them...not one of them...experienced the waste that ONAD aforrced on JAFI/JDC and institutional jeopardy that the ONAD "process" created. ONAD was ended by the federations; now these JFNA chachams want to revive it under nothing more than another name. Read their own explanations of the "difference" and you will agree -- GPT is ONAD...only not as well thought through.

At a Chicago Federation meeting a few weeks ago, a strong supporter of JFNA observed, about a Chicago agency that receives over $1 million in annual allocations, that as "...we get no bang for the buck, we need to begin defunding." Hmmm, I thought, does this charismatic, enthusiastic, creative and informed leader ever think about the Dues we allocate to JFNA in an obscene amount given the lack of an ROI from that organization in which we have as a community invested not only tens of millions over its lifetime but so much in the way of dashed hopes?

Choosing disbelief is not an option.



Anonymous said...

As a former federation exec with over 30 years of history in the federation system I developed a very large network of friends and colleagues with whom I am still in contact regularly to this day. For the most part my friends with whom I am still in contact are not in the largest cities. As recently as this past week I had conversations with several of them who have no clue about the GPT beyond what they have been told by the JFNA "brass". They are not regular particpants in the JFNA board meetings nor are their leadership. In effect they continue to plod along as un-informed "leaders" in their own community relying on the words of the aforementioned. I beleieve it is this ignorance of the local leadership that leads the JFNA leadership to their ill informed conclusions of support. If there is to be any changes in this perception someone needs to "organize" the mass of smaller communities and intermediate communities into action with accurate information. Remember the days when there were regions in the system with many meetings and opportunities for lots of involvement and exchange of ideas. There needs to be more of these, organized in the "regions". The larger cities in each area could take some leadership for the smaller communities and provide some periodic opportunities to explain lots of these issues.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Richard there is some room for pushback on the full barrel assault of GPT. The combined budget of our two partner agencies exceeds 600 million. The size of this sum alone calls for due diligence and input on our part and greater transparency on their part. Reviewing the programs in the 10 percent buckets and the slick and not so slick PR narratives I a non planner and aging neophyte can fill pages with questions and concerns for both agencies. Does either agency have Planning departments that rival the expertise of a NY or Chicago? (Out of fairness neither does JFNA). Do results oriented foundation find their proposals credible? Both agencies spend fortunes on resource development. Some joint expenditure and collaboration on planning wouldn't hurt.