Wednesday, February 22, 2012


You remember, don't you, all the fuss started about six years ago about "silos" at JFNA. "Got to tear 'em down." "Destroy them." "Build one organization." Yada Yada yada. Of course this was all just a smoke screen to mask massive layoffs, often of the strongest of JFNA professionals. In the end, the actions just weakened the organization, weak as it was already.

As is always...always...the case at JFNA, we, amcha, were never told whether the "silos" were destroyed, what the "benefits" were, if any. But, never mind...they're back -- they may be different, after all, even camouflaged as "Philanthropic Resources," with a "National Campaign Chair," there is no perceivable "national campaign," except in the minds of those at 25 Broadway; yes, different but...back.

The "silos" of today:

     ~ Marketing and Communications...rather than a function supporting campaign and FRD, it stands alone in the JFNA corn field, much like a scarecrow to frighten away the critics. A separate fiefdom, there to serve the CEO, the Board Chair. Oh, it may produce a campaign film...but it does so independent of "Philanthropic Resources."

     ~ you know what the minions in Jerusalem do? I know that the Office, under two administrations, immediate past and present, no longer supports the work of the Agency (other than the superb work of UIA-Israel) or Joint. And just look at the recent Briefing on an UJA-Federation of New York Mission to Ethiopia where, in a YNet puff piece one would hardly know that the New York Federation was involved at all -- claiming credit is what one does when one has nothing else to do. Now, thank G-d, this Office may provide a support function for the embryonic Global Planning Table, but other than Mission support and, of course, choreographing Jerry Silverman's periodic forays on the ground in Israel...what else for all of this money?

At the onset of what has become JFNA, some 12 years ago, Bob Aronson, then Detroit's President, led a Task Force that recommended real change to the Israel Office and functions. None of those recommendations were followed, but they need to be revisited...and fast.

     ~ JFNA-Washington...the only "silo" functioning well, integrated wholly with the federations and demonstrably successful. Jerry Silverman's seminal professional achievement to date was taking whatever steps were necessary to retain William Daroff for JFNA.

     ~ Philanthropic Resources...the catalyst for the "silo" deconstruction has been successfully (if this is a measure of "success" at JFNA) diminished -- it is but a shadow, if that, of what "Financial Resource Development" (let alone UJA) once was. I keep expecting the great people who have served and serve as National Campaign Chairs to step up and assert themselves...but the last one who did so resigned in frustration, and his successors have proved to be silent partners in the defenestration.

What can we conclude? Well, at this iteration of JFNA little of value has any real permanence. In fact, today's leaders don't possess the toolkit (or, if they have it, don't know how to use it) to decide between what is of value and what isn't. And, where there are choices, they seem to always...always...choose badly. And, there's the rub.



Anonymous said...

Your ommission and theirs as to the absence of serious domestic planning speaks volumes. It has become a backwater function of your beloved Washington office. Without product there is no sales.

RWEX said...

Dear Anonymous,

Mea culpa. My failure to reflect upon the lack of an integrated, well-funded planning function at JFNA iss an omission I regret -- in all ways. Perhaps there was no planning function at Dockers -- there was a great one at CJF and the whiff of one in the first 5 years of JFNA.

Anonymous said...

Dockers actually had their own ups and downs. Would be interesting to match with Silverman's tenure.

Anonymous said...

you're forgiven Richard - say two hail Kathy's and blog us in the morning.

Anonymous said...

Forgetting the "Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence", Richard?

Anonymous said...

In terms of the Washington Office, planning has always been an issue, mostly because those responsible for it over the last few years had little to no experience in a Federation Planning department.

BUT, the Washington office's ability to find funding streams through Federal dollars (earmarks, etc.) and their ability to provide appropriate benchmarks for planners and research issues of the day (caregivers, etc.) are absolutely noteworthy and worth gloating about.

Now in terms of the New York office, what rhymes with gloat????