Thursday, August 1, 2013


There has been something going on at JFNA for what is now over 1/2 its current shelf life -- the acceptance of  failure and then the rebranding of failure as success. And this is also happening in too many of our federations as well.

Examples, unfortunately, abound:
  • The kickoff to great annual campaigns used to be the Campaign Chairs and Directors Mission -- at the creation of that Mission and for years afterward, over 100 federations of every City-size participated, as we celebrated common purpose and passion. Today, a shadow of what was, 30 communities and 100 participants (not 100 participating federations), including but a few Large Cities, participate, and JFNA cuts the Mission budget. The Mission is still meaningful even inspirational but JFNA fails in recruiting, fails to inspire participation. This is nothing more than JFNA defining failure as success and very excitable National Chairs trumpet their "success."
  • Special Campaigns now flounder, as if there are neither tool kits nor successful experiences upon which to build. Take just two over the last six years plus -- Operation Promise and Completing the Journey. The former ended in uncertainty and chaos, the latter hasn't ended yet, but the Jewish Agency has now flown the last group of olim from Ethiopia to Israel while JFNA is still millions short of its announced special campaign goal -- but you won't read anything about that from JFNA. One thing is for sure, both ended like America's involvement in Vietnam -- with "victory" declared and defeat and confusion in the air. 
  • And, of course, and always, big a waste of money as any from the get-go, repurposed away from attracting the unaffiliated to an excuse in the main for the Young Leadership Cabinet to party at an annual waste of over $1 million. Just when it appeared that even JFNA's leaders couldn't bring themselves to convene another, Festivus 3 was announced with the promise it would be "different" as much as it was "eagerly anticipated." 
  • Now, the black hole that is JFNA into which federations have thrown down over $600,000,000 is rolling out "total immersion" -- a so-called "global effort" -- as the by-product of the waste and convulsion that is and has been the Global Planning Table. As explained to me and to any of you who pushed back, this is the "Signature" Program that will raise millions more for MASA and Birthright, among others. And, as I have explained back, take a look at history, please. For, if history is to offer any examples, immersion will be funded out of -- not on top of, not over and above, but out of/from the current crippled core allocations to the Jewish Agency and JDC. And when this is explained to anyone coopted in the GPT "processes," their eyes glaze over and they sputter, "Can't be, JFNA will assure that doesn't happen." Sure.
  • And, trending now is JFNA moving away from any lay engagement whatsoever: the Global Planning Table "Working Group" is made up of a group of professionals, reporting to another group of professionals; then there's the "I and O Resource Group, a project of JFNA's Israel and Overseas Committee..." I don't know what these are or what they do but they're doing it without the nefarious involvement of lay people. We understand, we just get in the way.
So, have a great day and look what we have created. And, be proud...very proud.



Jewish Philanthropy News and Views said...

Richard, what I find particularly interesting is this new Prime Minister's Initiative from the Jewish Agency. Notice the latter's partner? The Government.

No where in the official white paper circulated by the Agency is ANY reference to JFNA or KH. I doubt the omission was an accident. The paper's authors are smarter than that.

Tells us all what one "partner" thinks of JFNA and the GPT.

Anonymous said...

I think there is another Black Hole emerging - the GA in Israel. Rumor has it that there are so few people registered that they are trying to re-construct a GA for a very small crowd. I wonder how much JFNA will lose to the hotels and other guarantees.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone really care how much of a disaster the GA has become under JFNA?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone really care how much of a disaster JFNA has become?