These are perilous times in the Jewish non-profit world. In New York City alone the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty has been impacted by the "discovery" that corruption and self-dealing ran rampant among trusted professional leaders; FEGS suddenly "discovered" tens of millions in losses; Yeshiva University is reeling from $100s of millions in deficits -- each has suffered devastating fund-raising and allocations losses. We know, as well, that organizations including Hadassah and the ZOA have experienced lapses in financial controls that cost the former control of its most prized asset and the latter the loss of its 501(c)(3) status (allegedly now restored). Then there are federations which hide fund-raising failures behind transfers from Endowment funds including them within annual campaign figures.
What the hell is going on? Well, there are probably countless reasons but I lay the bottom-line responsibility on the collapse of the lay-professional partnership across the board. It's not alone a phenomenon in New York City, it's just that it is there that this breakdown has manifested itself in financial catastrophe too often accompanied by organizational corruption. In some instances, Officers and Boards of Directors have chosen to delegate away their fiduciary responsibilities to professional leaders rubber-stamping professional decisions without the requisite inquiry; too often Board members who actually exercise their duty of inquiry and examination go on the blacklist and watch as their services are no longer wanted...ever. And the consequences of "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" have never been more clear.
Nowhere do we see more evidence of the abandonment of fiduciary responsibility than at the hallowed halls of 25 Broadway where the JFNA Board of Directors blindly rubber stamp incompetence and failure on a weekly if not daily basis. The motto that should be engraved over its portal is "abandon principle all ye who enter here." Surely, no one has yet has been found to have their hands in the cookie jar, and this Post isn't meant to suggest that; instead, we have seen almost $650,000,000 in Dues, in donors funds, wasted in the aggregate without return on value to the federations who have willingly supplied the funds without either questions or accountability. That may not be stealin' but it ain't good either...and the waste is a lot more, hundreds of millions more, than have actually been found to have been stolen by those convicted of corruption of other organizations.
Isn't it time to call a halt to the mess we have, by silence and inaction, permitted? Example: last year JFNA elected leaders actually determined to exercise the powers of their offices and take back the arrogation of powers by the Global Planning Table elite; the GPT would become the subcommittee of Global Operations: Israel and Overseas that it should be. But, moving forward, incredibly, the leaders of the GPT and a few federations pushed back and the JFNA leaders dropped it, leaving the I and O Chair to resign and the system in the sorry state we find it today. Where oh where was Jerry I'm-CEO-of-What? Well, I am told he was on both sides when he could be understood at all. There's not much more that needs to be said.
JFNA is a catastrophe...but it's a an even bigger catastrophe waiting to occur.