There was a Board-invited Budget prep session convened the afternoon of May 21; I received it the morning of May 21. I reviewed it, as you will, with a growing incredulity. Yet, the Budget is but the "short con;" based on what is not going on and what is at JFNA, it is JFNA itself that is the "long con."
It's hard to know where to begin with this 63 page document and the 79 pages of Appendices that attempt to mask so much that is wrong with JFNA but...
- What is JFNA's actual budget? It's not $29.5 million, it's not $30 million. Those are the varying amounts of the "Dues Budget." And that Budget is proposed to increase in 2015-2016 by $700,000 that your Federation and mine will be expected to pay even though JFNA is spending close to $44,500,000 annually. The real Budget appears to be $40,089,000. That breaks down as follows:
- Dues -- $30,290,000
- Internal Fund Raising -- $3,558,000 (in one place in this incredible Budget document this is shown as "the same as 2014-2015" at $3,058,000; everywhere else this is stated as being increased by $500,000).
- Just one caveat -- JFNA didn't "raise" $3,058,000 in 2014-2015 -- didn't "raise" hardly a thing. It merely took money (from the Alliance and elsewhere) and called it "FRD."
- Fees for Services and Program revenue -- $6,200,000
- Thus, this Budget total is comprised of Dues, and two plugged numbers for which there is no evidence...none...where that $9,778,000 will come from.
- "Absorption." You have to marvel at the chutzpah. The Budget narrative congratulates JFNA for "absorbing," e.g., "an additional $1.3 million in program costs" and $500,000 "related to salaries and benefits...absorbed." Yes, lots of absorption of everything, I guess, that is charged to the Budget.
- And, how about FRD/Philanthropic Resources? If you like reading fiction as I do, you will love the sections allocating resources to Financial Resource Development inasmuch as reading them you are required to suspend disbelief, pretend there is a staff to support the effort and...
- Accept as fact the fiction that last year $3.5 million was spent on Major Gifts development ("development" is my word; JFNA doesn't know what it means as you and I do)...that's $3,500,000...
- And agree that it is appropriate to double Major Gifts development funding to $7,000,000. Really.
- And, for $7,000,000 JFNA, not the federations, will produce 4 new $250,000 gifts, 30 PMC Gifts (which would mean $3,000,000) and another $1,000,000 in King David Society gifts and so on down the line. Couple these goals with the lack of any staff, and the reality that JFNA has never achieved an FRD goal for the past decade, maybe JFNA should just hand the $7,000,000 to the federations to enhance their FRD?
- Oh...and for "Inspiring Major Gifts" staffing will increase by 3.5 FTE (who exactly were those?) to 7 and an astonishing $750,000.Is it a fair question as to who will be hiring these professionals and to whom they will report?
- What about the GA? You know, the GA that has diminished as has JFNA over the past ten years into a shadow of its former self. This Budget will throw another $550,000 at the General Assembly.
- For what purposes? Don't ask?
- The 2014-2015 GSA attendance "goal" of "1,000+" lay leader registrants wasn't met -- instead, the number reached was "700+." Absolutely ridiculous, of course.
- This wouldn't be a deficit allocation for the 2014 GA would it?
- The sorry "goal" for the 2015 GA is nothing more than a 10% increase in registrants -- "...with most of growth" (growth? really??) among lay leadership!!
- The "GA Operating Budget" will increase by 60% from $978,000 to $1,564,000 -- FOR WHAT?
- Contingency? Oh, now that will increase by $100,000...33%...to $400,000
- Consultants? Sure, we got 'em. The amount is being reduced from $1.762 (not including the Alliance Consultant paid $308,000) to $1.560 with no identification of who or for what?
- No doubt that gross number includes the money being spent on the ghost that is Deborah K. Smith
- The Global Planning Table? Speaking of ghosts...the number of FTE dedicated to the GPT will reduce to 1.3 -- apparently now just a placeholder. How the mighty have fallen.
- The Rabbinic Cabinet. What had been an important thread in the fabric of our work for so long will no longer have any assigned staff, and will see its already small budget of $248,000 reduced to a miniscule $55,000. Effectively, the Cabinet is part of the JFNA's rejection of our institutional history.
- FTEs in Hiding. Perhaps those who drive this Budget believe that they can just tuck away the personnel in, e.g., JFNA-Israel in various corners of various budget lines so as to hide the total number who are on the padded JFNA payroll. Thus, the Budget shows "only" 10.5 FTE on the Israel payroll (never specifying their function -- ever) plus another 5 FTE on UIA-Israel. The other dozen, more or less? You will never find them...except on the roster of JFNA-Israel and, then, you will just have to guess what most of them do.
- Then there is the Network. Revenue from the Network is set as $1,995,000 (that's what federations call "Dues"), expenses charged to the Network -- $2,143,000. This is incredible -- beyond belief. The Network is being squeezed for revenue to support JFNA's Budget and being charged for costs it does not create. Thus, since then Board Chair Manning dismantled the Network's independent Board (there is no longer a Board at all; instead, an "Advisory Board" populated with fine leaders, five of whom, including the Chair, hwo are not even from within the Network communities), JFNA has squeezed the Network to make JFNA's Budget without regard to benefits to or costs created by the Network communities or to the actual staff costs of those assigned to the Network.
- JAFI/JDC/World ORT? Better beware. There is not only going to be a "[C]omplete assessment of current partners (who is going to do that??)" but identify "...potential additional organizations for consideration" at a time that allocations to the JA/JDC/ORT core budgets are at historically low levels. There is such an air of arrogance reflected in this Budget when there should have been humility and even shame.
Look, as always, there is more in this "Short Con." But let's end with this: by including "Allocations to Beneficiary Organizations" of $252,000,000 as an "Expense," an expenditure of $7,850,000 for the "Executive...including Headquarters" appears as but 2.6% when, in reality, of expenses net of allocations of $44,462,000, that item alone is 18%. Is that acceptable to you?
And, if the JFNA expenses net of allocations in 2014-2015 were $44,462,000 where is that money coming from in 2015-2016? And why?