Perhaps it's not surprising but after six years of neglect and abuse, leaders have come together to begin discussions of recreating the United Jewish Appeal, or so I am told. Why now...let me count the ways...
JFNA has seen a steady exodus from what was its FRD Department , now Philanthropic Resources or something even more obscure and obtuse. Perhaps the two holdover professionals can turn off the lights (or show Paul Kane how to do so). Starting with Vicki Agron, continuing with Gail Reese and David Saginaw and, now, Danyelle Neuman, another superstar...they and so many others...gone. But not just gone -- each of these superb professionals has found new horizons to conquer, bringing their expertise and passion to bear for other fund raising organizations -- oh, I forgot, JFNA is no longer a fund raising organization.
So if your federation wants counsel on its annual campaign, or on a capital campaign effort, or, for that matter, anything relating to financial resource development (other than planned giving where a skeleton staff still has the ability to assist [or, at least, convene meetings]). So a "for instance..." JFNA through Summer 2011, continued the Campaign Chairs and Directors Missions initiated by UJA, when I was Chair. (To be fair, we just broadened the Women's Campaign Chairs and Directors Missions initiated by the UJA National Women's Campaign.) It has been a great Mission, setting the pace for the upcoming Campaigns, with capacity fund raising and inspiration. It also brought the Campaign Directors together with the national Campaign/FRD staff. Now, there is but a skeleton of a national FRD professional staff. What does JFNA have to offer the federations' campaign chairs and local professionals?
There is a similar deficit on the federation planning side of JFNA. In the early and mid-90s, JFNA engaged with federations, hiring consultants, and producing a series of plans antithetical to the federation concept. In every Large and Large Intermediate community in which JFNA did a community strategic plan, the concept of federation as the central planning and central address was lost and those federations have struggled for greater traction, in some instances any traction ever since. The slogan "we're from JFNA and we're here to help you," is more warning sign than welcoming slogan.
How did the organization get so lost...for another day.