Thursday, April 4, 2013


Dear Uncle Blabby:

1. We are Board Members of a community in which it is rumored that our CEO (married) is having an affair with our Lay Chair (married)? What should we do if the rumors are true?

Uncle Blabby says: This just can't be. I've heard of some Rabbis and members, but....this? Well, if the rumors are true, both need to be gone...immediately. Forget the distractions; this is basic morality about which Uncle Flabby knows very little, but your Uncle knows this: our communities are based on the trust our donors have in our leaders and this behavior destroys trust not only in the morals of our leaders but in their judgment.

Dear Uncle Blabby:

2. We just learned that our planned giving consultant was alleged to have been engaged in both a conflict of interest and, maybe, theft from a partner in their consulting business. Could this be possible? What should we do about it?

Uncle Blabby says: I'm scratching my head. Have professionals forgotten the meaning of "fiduciary obligation?" If a consultant has no regard for fiduciary duty to that person's partner, what sense of fiduciary obligation would your consultant have toward your community? Time for your own independent investigation, asking for full disclosure -- if you get no cooperation or if you confirm the worst, the consultant must be fired...immediately.

Dear Uncle Blabby:

3. Our volunteer Chair has an office at the Federation where he/she spends 4 to 8 hours a day. Our Chief Professional seems not to know what to do? What can we do?

Uncle Blabby says: The success of the lay-professional partnership is based in part upon the lay leaders' recognition that they are but part-time volunteers and the chief professional officer and his/her staff are full-time professionals. What you have described happens too often and leads to volunteer interference in operations, in personnel decisions and a confusion that can destroy staff's respect for the chief professional. Were JFNA doing one of its jobs -- lay leader training -- as it should be, we would have less of this.

Dear Uncle Blabby,

4. Our Federation endowment fund distributes 70% of its income and advised gifts outside the federation system? What should we do?

Uncle Blabby says: Have you tried to influence these allocations in any way? What might happen if you did try to influence these decisions? Don't you think that you should even if the foundation is separately incorporated? 



Anonymous said...

Concerning #4 Uncle Blabby missed the boat. In most federations my guess is that the 70% of the funds being distributed outside of the federation system are from donor advised funds (DAF). One of the main purposes of the federation is to be the central address for Jewish philanthropy. That covers all Jewish organizations, and to some degree the non-Jewish ones as well, not just those that are traditionally within the family like the JCC, day school etc. By being so inclusive the federation has the opportunity, in fact the obligation, to engage the donors and to educate the donors about all needs including needs of organizations not just within the family. Without this opportunity the donor will find any number of other ways to get their funds to their favorite charities and totally bypass the federation. The federations/foundations that understand this are the ones that are successful. The ones that "dictate" where the DAF go are the ones that are much less successful.

RWEX said...

Uncle B (the "Blabster") does applaud those Foundations which do exactly as the Commentator described above -- those which are not merely "inclusive" but which expose the donors to communal needs. But those Foundations that merely collect funds and offer no guidance as to the communal needs which might be served, do a disservice to the definition of "Jewish Communal Foundation..."

Anonymous said...

Dear Blabster,

If any, let alone all, of these scenarios are true, they reflect just how desperate the shape of our system is.