Monday, July 7, 2014

THE IMPACT OF DOING NOTHING FLOWING FROM KNOWING NOTHING

                                                 2013-2014                  2014-2015
                                              Final Allocation      Changes            Allocation

Overseas Impact (JAFI/JDC)        $1,462,250       ($777,500)          $684,750

This is real. These are the allocation results from a federation that was among the largest percentage allocators to JAFI and Joint core budgets throughout its history. Now, in one Draconian action this community is contemplating cutting its allocation to JAFI/Joint core by an astounding 53% -- for no evident reason. In my recollection -- which goes back at least 40 years -- this would be the single largest percentage reduction to core by any federation in any single year.

What does this action by a once-outstanding federation?

  1. It demonstrates what can happen anywhere when there is no Continental overseas advocacy effort. You remember the pleas by Chair Siegal that federations increase their core allocations? Maybe he does too. CEO Core-Allocations-What-Are-Those sure doesn't. You may also remember the appointment of an Overseas Allocations Task Force with a great Chair, Baltimore's Bruce Sholk, which....did what exactly? This is not just a single Federation's failing; it is a Continental systemic collapse -- at a time of great needs, a federation whose annual campaign did go down by about $380,000, doubles down with a core allocation reduction.
  2. The have been many who have argued to me that "under-allocating" federations whose leaders sit with the Chicagos of our system, through some process of hypothecated osmosis, will absorb the lessens of those which responsibly allocate and consequently increase their overseas allocations. I responded that I had heard this argument before -- during the unlamented ONAD where federation after federation reduced their allocations while sitting on that Overseas Needs committee. Yet, the fiction is promoted as fact -- as is always the case with JFNA.
But it is not just a failure of advocacy -- this Federation's decision would be a reflection of several factors so prevalent in too many communities:
  • A professional leader with no federation background with an agenda that conflicts with the totality of the concept of collective responsibility,
  • A lay Chair who shares a personal agenda paired with a lack of awareness of the meaning of collective responsibility, and
  • A sense of the Overseas allocation as an ATM for those personal agendas
Join those factors with a national professional leadership that only knows the words but has no interest in the meaning of collective responsibility -- knows not how to advocate for it, or how to convey its meaning to the federations themselves. Thus, these "leaders" actually believe that so-called "Signature Initiatives" and a "Voluntary Project" in which self-selected federations (and, perhaps, other funders) will embark on some serious but certainly not collective action. In its thoughtless embrace of the Global Planning Table, now indistinguishable from JFNA itself, JFNA has no standing to advocate for the collective that it neither understands nor can articulate. And the Joint and Jewish Agency stand by in evident silence and probable disbelief.

This federation decision, just one of many, would be the rebuttal to those federation leaders who demand that the Jewish Agency and Joint Distribution Committee commit to significantly fund the federations' commitment to so-called "Signature Initiatives" arising out of the Global Planning Table. Take a look guys -- here would be over $800,000 in "skin in the game" grabbed by a single federation for its own agenda -- not the agenda of the Jewish People, the agenda of a single federation.  

Friends, who at JFNA has the standing to bring the moral suasion necessary to mentor an unknowing federation CEO about the criticality of support for the collective action embodied in core allocations to the Jewish Agency, JDC and World ORT when JFNA itself is driving federations away from those very core allocations? 

We are so far from the principles that drove the merger that created JFNA that we can't even remember what they were.

Know this: there are those reading this Post (while denying that they ever read this thing, of course) who haven't a clue what I am talking about.

Rwexler

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that sitting among the other federations in the system this federation has taken the position that they do not want to be among the leaders in percentage to overseas but rather to join the majority. Perhaps they have seen that other federations are barely allocating 20% of campaign when perhaps they were above 30% or some such thing. The leadership might have said "Let's do like everyone else and reduce our allocation to an equal percentage as the national averages.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you call out those federations that are doing this? It can't just be CEO-who-doesn't-have-a-clue who is the only one who gets bullied here. Bully the perpetrators of the breakdown of the system. The federations hide behind the same veil; tell us who they are. Out them! Only when there is full disclosure can there be the beginning of correction.

Anonymous said...

The community we dare not speak it's name? That nurtured an Israeli Prime Minister? That trained a global agency exec and more than one stellar Large city exec? That sent UJA national campaign chairs and CJF and other national agencies some of the best lay leaders they ever had? Don't know who we are talking about!

Anonymous said...

OH? Milwaukee?

Anonymous said...

Richard,

Whatever happened to the so-called "Second Membership Criterion?" Just another bad memory?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the federation, if it is Milwuakee, have a director who is technically from outside the system with little institutional memory? Weren't there also some other issues when she was at JFNA or its predecessors?

Anonymous said...

There is no professional anywhere powerful enough to ram thru a reduction of that magnitude. This was a federation failure and a national system failure. Seeking individual scapegoats is unhelpful denial.

Anonymous said...

In other news, CEO Jerry is on an unplanned trip to Israel. Can someone explain why his presence is needed? Can't be to meet with our partners - Sharansky is in Paris and Gill in New York. Guess he and SVP do-nothing need to consult in person on the next PM letter.

I hope he donates all his miles for this senseless back and forth to a reputable charity!

Anonymous said...

But she can certainly provide influence and leadership one would think. After all isn't that what a professional CEO of a federation is supposed to do.

RWEX said...

I want to respectfully respond to the Anonymous Commentator who criticized CEO Jerry Silverman's sudden Israel trip. Our Israel is clearly in crisis, at war and it is both appropriate and necessary that our system's leaders be with our mishpacha there representing us. While I would have preferred that JFNA had organized an emergency leadership Mission to express our solidarity, I guess this will have to do -- Jerry went and Chair Siegal reported that he was going.

Anonymous said...

Richard, also the Campaign Chairs and directors Mission will be there in the next day or so if they aren't already there. Word is that they have re-scheduled much of the activities in Israel to focus on the emergency and to get a more in depth understanding of what it is like to live under this constant fear threat.

RWEX said...

Good to know, thanks.