Monday, April 7, 2014


Well, around the country some bad stuff is happening. To-wit:

    1. In one Large City an undisclosed conflict between the Federation President and the CEO resulted in the lay President's resignation. Does anyone remember when, first, CJF and, then, JFNA, conducted an annual 2 day seminar for federation presidents and execs. Does anyone recall when the national organization would attempt to mediate situations like these so that they would never reach the "it's him/her or me" stage? Well those days appear to be so over. Does this federation explosion "out" the reality that many CEOs neither know how to work with lay leaders or just find them to be an unnecessary annoyance that they would like to just give their money and get out of the way and, also, that many lay leaders are faced with circumstances for which they, too, are unprepared?
    2. At another federation the outgoing CEO announced that the community was innovating a major Women's Foundation to focus their grants, apparently, on communal issues and programs related to women philanthropists. Big innovation -- Chicago, among many other federations, has had a Women's Foundation for at least a decade. Were JFNA to have a functioning FRD  (oops, Philanthropic Resources) Department would't such an effort be promoted continentally as a federation "best practice?" 
    3. Remember the "Ukraine Initiative?" JFNA established what was nothing more than a "Mailbox" and, then...a Task Force. Excellent Co-Chairs, allocating money as it arrives. Oh, there was a $1 million "ask" of the Large Cities on a Fair Share basis -- then JFNA sat back and waited for the money.  This is the JFNA way -- cowardice where a little courage, a little real initiative, a real commitment would be appropriate. If not, as many have argued, why do it? Did some LCE demand it or did the facts on the ground cry out for it? Is there one JFNA asked the federations for funding and then actually raised the money? Instead, CEO Jerry is writing paeans of praise for the wonderful PJ Library.  Guess there's either no crisis in the Ukraine or JFNA has no time for it if there is one. Who's driving the Clown Car? Is someone at 25 Broadway driving this bus while the Co-Chairs pretend that all is well?
    4. When was the last time that JFNA offered a set of funding priorities for  federation consideration, deliberation and decision? Well, maybe never. Today, with funding "Signature Initiatives" in conflict with increasing core allocations, etc., out of the blue arrived on your Federation CEO's desk a request directly from the Ethiopian National Project -- not even through JFNA although the folks there have known about it since at least last December. "The leadership of the Representatives of Ethiopian Jewish Community Organizations in Israel has asked the Ethiopian National Project to share the attached letter with you, the leadership of North American Jewry." (But, you can be assured that JFNA supplied the ENP with your e-mail address.) Where does this request fit within communal priorities? One thing is for certain: JFNA doesn't have a clue. And, later the same day as the ENP request, in a Memo from the Chairs and Silverman, the same mailing list was advised that a Task Force was appointed on "the same subject" back at year-end -- "within a matter of days" of the ENP request back then. That apparently secret Task Force has met three times and will report back by May -- that will be over 5 months after the request made of JFNA. (Imagine with me the conversation at 25 Broadway on March 25: "Mr. Silverman, the ENP has sent a letter to every federation seeking that funding of its work." Jerry: "They did WHAT? Get 'em on the phone. Don't they know that we have a Task Force working on this at our leisure [We do have a Task Force, don't we?]") Those ingrates.") But, rest assured that's as quickly as our JFNA can respond to what the ENP identified as "critical needs."
    5. This should probably be #1 on the "trending" list. JFNA reported the Festivus results and, as usual, they were spectacular. One of the co-Chairs wrote of how great and meaningful it was: 1,200 participants, lots of wonderful stuff, inspiration and, though not mentioned, eating and drinking beyond "Kosher gumbo" and some kind of Black and White Ball. But, taking JFNA's count (always questionable because always inflated) of 1,200 (have you noticed how certain events seem to have a JFNA-assigned number to them? 1,200 for TribeFest, 3,000 for every GA -- and they are always vastly overstated?), that works out to a cost to you of $833 per participant. ($1,000,000 budget/1,200 participants) If you believe that there will be a positive return on that "investment," I have a bridge to sell you. This was the third time, down for the count.
If you like things the way they are, raise your hand.



Anonymous said...

I see the hands of the LCE's raising quickly!

Anonymous said...

I was in attendance at TribeFest in New Orleans. At least 1/2 the people there were either JFNA staff or Federation staff. There was no substance, all fluff and pandering. What a waste of resources.

Anonymous said...

I have just become a follower of your Blog after weeks of my federation trying to get an answer from JFNA of some very basic questions about the number, amount and purpose of the consulting contracts that my federation is paying for. It's obvious, we are not supposed to know.