You are a federation CEO and Chair. You realize that for the $50,000 or $6,800,000 your community is paying JFNA in Dues, your community is getting back...almost nothing. What a conundrum. What do you do? If your national Dues are literally buried in the "Overseas Allocation" category of your annual Budget or your community fully discloses the Dues that are paid religiously albeit with both eyes closed and fists clenched, you know in your heart that 50%, 60%, 70% of those Dues are just plain wasted. And, yet...and, yet...you pay and pay and pay some more.
Let's consider the question: WHY???
Sadly, it really comes down to this -- the only thing binding the vast number of federations to their national organization is the threat of termination of membership-- the massive threat, really -- of a federation, it could be Chicago, it could be the Berkshires, and any and all in between. And, what does this mean in practical terms, this "threat? It's pretty simple -- you want to just cut your Dues payments, you want to stop paying Dues altogether without some special hardship? Here's what will happen to your community -- we'll take away your Lions, your National Women's Philanthropy members, no more GA registration for you, no more professional development, no more national Missions...and on and on.
What your community will be threatened with will be the loss of participation in every holdover program from CJF and UJA (there isn't a single JFNA creation with which to threaten a federation [other than TribeFest, what a loss that would be!!, or the GPT, likewise]). Yep, all a threat -- there is nothing positive that JFNA, that Chairs Siegal or Feinberg or, certainly, CEO Jerry have to offer a community to keep them paying Dues.
In the past -- the evermore distant past -- every federation could view its Dues obligation could view its Dues obligation as part of its sacred collective responsibility; we in Chicago, for example, knew intuitively that if our annual Dues were, say, $2.6 million that we were not receiving anywhere near that in direct services but we knew that whatever the dollar difference between our Dues and JFNA services was, the remainder was being applied to the needs of federations continentally. No more. Today we have seen that difference between direct service to Chicago and the "rest" literally going down that inexplicable black hole to the nowhere of JFNA self-promotion and unquestioning obeisance.
Friends, there are so few "positives" holding us to the payment of full Dues; but the negative sanctions hold like Velcro. And when the hold is just plain negative, resentments build and, ultimately, the fabric is torn asunder.What we need are simply these: those positive things that would bind us to the national organization, that would compel the continued payment of Dues, the passion of a Movement, the Big Ideas that flow from collaboration, debate and discussion not from dictation. If we find those, we will have rediscovered our system and our bearings.