Monday, April 16, 2012


At my favorite organization, it's very clear that failure is success -- or maybe, probably, these guys just can't tell the difference.  In fact,  at JFNA there is no difference. The idea at 25 Broadway is to call failure success and, the bigger the failure, the greater the likelihood of repetition.

We all remember #ish, don't we? The promise of 100s of thousands of new prospects. Ehhhh...not so much. Community Heroes, replicated in a few woeful places, repeated as if there were some purpose beyond honoring the few. So completely captured by the Orthodox community, JFNA had to create a separate category for others. The "rescue" of a few Yemenite Jewish families to Monsey, New York, almost a self-parody of purpose. And TribeFestivus, such a financial and purpose failure, having lost more than a quarter million dollars, it just had to be repeated. See, this is the problem: at JFNA there has been no purpose, so there have been no good ideas, so they just repeat the bad ones.

Then there is the curious case of something called Select Core Priorities. This "process," begun in 2011, was to be the incredibly successful precursor to the Global Planning Table. JAFI and JDC would put 10% of their highest priorities into a hat, putting 10% of their allocations  at risk of reallocation, and federations would jump at the chance to reallocate core resources. (Why either JDC or JAFI would subject themselves to this is another story with all kinds of questions for another day.) Well, at then end of the day, 10 of 157 federations participated ... that's 10 federations 6% of the total... and $2 million at risk, about 1% of total allocations. And JFNA? Its senior professionals applauded and shouted that this meant "...the GPT will be an incredible success." OMG and woe is me. This demonstrates that at 25 Broadway, no one even knows the definition of "success" or the difference between "success" and that other thing....oh yeah, "failure." I ask you to recall that JFNA staff (probably the Philanthropic Resources staff unless they were otherwise busy with the Festivus) was frantically calling federations begging their participation. That effort failed too -- 10, count 'em, 10 federations participated.

And, now, in the tradition of repeating failure, we have Select Core Priorities -- the Sequel.  For every flop at JFNA has a Sequel. Subject JAFI and the Joint to further unnecessary expense, pressure federations to participate, only more so. We take what we have learned, misinterpret it, and do it all over again.



Anonymous said...

If at first you don't fricassee, fry, fry again...The problem is you have the wrong address. 25 Broadway is innocent by virtue of mental, educational, and experiential insufficiency.

One meeting of Ruskay, Nasatir, Hoffman, Sanderson, Solomon and a few others and the game changes forever and for the better.

Lay the responsibility on the correct parties. This organization was engineered to be owned by the Federations. It is the shareholders who have abdicated.

Anonymous said...

Don Vito Corleone wrote:

Key stakeholders will send a seemingly friendly emissary from a large city to Kathy and Jerry to discuss corrective action. At this meeting an offer not to be refused will be made. Jerry will subsequently find a foundation position. Kathy will get a plaque. So it was, so it will always be.

Anonymous said...

You mean Jerry will have to find a job at a foundation where he will be under the control of a "dictator" and not able to really use his expertise and knowledge unless it is exactly what the real person in charge wants? Why would he even consider giving up his current postion to work under such totalitarian conditions?