The Forward published its annual "Salary Survey" last month. While much of the data of federation CEOs were no better than 2013's or earlier, it caused me to reflect on the accusations fired at me when I published the reality that the then Board Chair had publicly objected to the inclusion of "Zionism" in a Global Planning Table Committee document as "too controversial" -- I was told I was "destroying the Campaign" and worse. That Post of mine had no impact on the Annual Campaign whatsoever, but no one seems to suggest that the salaries being paid Federation CEOs have a real negative impact on (1) the perception of federation and (2) the Annual Campaign when numerous donors question annual compensation.
You and I would agree that many of the CEOs whose compensation made the top of The Forward's list are doing a superb job, are terrific leaders and merit the highest reasonable compensation -- they have proved it year-after-year. Then there are the Jerry Silvermans who have proved year-after-year that the more one is paid doesn't always equate with results -- or, in Silverman's case specifically...ever.
You can read the entire Survey at http://forward.com/articles/210598/how-much-are-our-jewish-non-profit-ceos-making/#.VI5Kxyl-wjo.facebook...and, then, you can weep. Or, if you are Yeshiva University's Richard Joel, you may laugh hysterically.
When I looked at the compensation being paid to, e.g., a new Philadelphia CEO before day one on the job -- $462,000 -- measured against successful CEOs, I have to question the negotiating ability of federation lay leaders and ask "WHY?" * I looked at Philadelphia and was reminded of the newly retired Major League baseball player, Alfonso Soriano. He had finished a season of relative mediocrity in 2006 when the Chicago Cubs, bidding against no other team only against themselves, kept upping their offer until they agreed to pay Soriano $20 million more per year than any other team had offered for the same services. Those former Cubs officials must now have been the negotiators for Philadelphia. And since this professional was hired, how has the Philadelphia annual campaign or how have special campaigns gone? Maybe these chachams are also the ones who negotiated, if one can even call these "awards" that ("capitulations" might be a better description) at JFNA and several other federations as well.
Compare, if you will, the incredible annual success of Chicago, much of that directly attributable to the efforts of Steven Nasatir, to the abject failure at 25 Broadway and the respective compensation paid CEO Jerry I-Can't-Believe-These-Idiots-Pay-Me-This** vs. Nasatir; or the modest compensation paid Jeff Finkelstein, the Pittsburgh Federation CEO, who delivers year-in and year-out with that being paid the untested and unknowing (albeit promising) new New York UJA CEO; or compare any of these with the relatively low salaries being paid JNF's Russell Robinson and American Friends of Tel Aviv University's Gail Reiss and the success they have driven at their organizations.
If we wonder at all why so many...a growing number...believe that the federation system is in unstoppable decline, all one needs to do is measure CEO compensation against federation success. The answer sure seems clear.
* I have been advised by a Commentator using a nom de plume that the salary ascribed to Philadelphia's new CEO is that of her predecessor, the chief professional officer she replaced.
** It should be noted that JFNA has yet to file its 2013 IRS Form 990 -- the one that covers the 2013 Fiscal Year. Thus, the numbers for Jerry the Lucky are still those reflected in the 2012 990.