Monday, May 4, 2015


This moment in time has been coming for a long while. Those who care about what we affectionately recall as "the system" have been watching, commenting on and documenting the steady unwinding of what was such a beautiful and meaningful "Movement" since the day leadership was handed over to the unknowing and uncaring, to those who didn't and don't comprehend that absent collective responsibility, federation and its umbrella organization become nothing more than "another Jewish charity." And, here it is -- the collective is dead with federation lay and professional leaders celebrating the last rites.

In mid-April -- that's 4-1/2 months past calendar year-end, JFNA sent out the final 2014 allocation/distribution numbers to the Jewish Agency, JDC and World ORT (I do not know if federations received the same information; certainly the JFNA Board did not receive the data). Here is what they were told were the "final" 2014 allocations distributions:

                       JDC                       JAFI               ORT
   Core       $29,443,570         $87,607,082     $2,421,155
   SCP*          1,176,261               541,381          

   Advances                ($3,568,750)                                                                   

   TOTAL    $30,619,831        $88,148,463   $2,421,155

Yes, JFNA managed to make this calculation as complicated as possible. Let me explain: to make the allocation numbers less horrible (they were still abominable) in 2012 and 2013, JFNA cajoled some federations to "advance" allocation dollars against future allocations -- those advances totaled $5,408,000 in those two years. From the way the 2014 numbers were presented to JA/JDC/ORT those federations which advanced funds recouped $3,566,750 in 2014. Thus, the totals to JAFI/Joint and ORT were net of these recouped dollars.

And the allocation numbers as presented by JFNA may not include all of the designated dollars allocated by the federations -- for reasons totally unclear. Was/is JFNA holding back (there is probably a pejorative term I could use, but I won't) and using those dollars for its own internal purposes until, for lack of a better term, caught? Or is there a more charitable explanation -- like negligence or failed oversight? But this is just a footnote, important as it is, to the abandonment of the collective represented by the 2014 numbers.

In just three years, friends, there has been a drop in allocated dollars by $11,000,000 (after the repayment of the Advances) -- 9%. Maybe that doesn't sound too bad even if the result is that in 2014 what were once our system's "partners" received their lowest annual allocations in history. Period. And, if one looks at the draconian drop in core allocations to JAFI alone since the first year of the merger -- $185,000,000 dropping to $88,148,463 in 2014 -- a reduction of more than 52%. This drop is beyond belief unless you understand...

...That from Day 1 of the Global Planning Table, the "leaders" of the GPT have conspired to drive core allocations down while focusing an easily persuaded federation polity to drive designated allocations up. Thus, they created the "brand" of the so-called *Select Core Priorities -- something Manning, Butler, Silverman, et al., articulated would be "a new model allocations strategy" but which has been but a meaningless 1% siphoning off of total allocations. Not happy with that result, then the same chachams came up with Signature Initiatives, which would have required, in at least two instances, driving core allocations into designated Initiatives to the tune of $15,000,000 per Initiative per year. And, while a few federations pushed to fund these Initiatives with only "new money," just as they has argued that the Select Core Priorities be similarly funded, these were overwhelmed by the tide created by GPT leadership. Had the GPTers succeeded, core allocations would have been further and even more catastrophically depleted, if that were possible. To date, these Initiatives have gone...nowhere. 

And, core allocations? Well in 2014 the GPT leadership arrogated to itself allocations advocacy (that was easy -- JFNA neither did any nor wanted/want to do any), appointed an excellent Chair, and, then...abandoned the Chair and the function. The results, as they say, speak for themselves.

Meanwhile -- and some would argue that these efforts are a direct result of JFNA's failures on their behalf, JAFI, JDC and World ORT are in our communities raising direct dollars in support of core and projects within their budgets as well as designated projects, as they have had to do. They are raising 10s of millions annually. The result is a system in disarray if not total collapse. (In a not surprising reaction, some federation CEOs, whose communities have effectively abandoned core allocations to one partner or all of them scream about the "partners" approaching "their" donors. These leaders don't understand  [or care about] the cause, only the effect.) Meanwhile, JFNA opens Mailboxes/Funds and takes credit for the work of  the Joint, the Jewish Agency and World ORT and, incredibly, (if a transmittal from the Director General, Israel Office and Senior Vice-President, Israel and Overseas, on April 28 could possibly be believed) in the aftermath of the tragic Nepal earthquake, even that of the heroic work of the Government of Israel (and of Chabad of Nepal). Unreal.

So, where are we? JFNA has abandoned core -- each and every one of its overseas efforts has been a failed effort toward designated allocations. It appears to this writer that in the near term, core allocations to JAFI/JDC/ORT will be made solely by New York, Chicago and a few others. And, how long can that, and our system, last, if that is the case? It's a rhetorical question.

It's pathetic.



Anonymous said...

It is increasingly clear that we confronted with two classes of players - those with a clear and thought out agenda and the many who are clueless. Silverman has an agenda; Caspi has a clear agenda; and Daroff has his. In fact they are, if you engage them, open about their issues and ideas. It is the rest of us who refuse to think, propose, engage in conversation who are the truly negligient. We express shock and dismay when THEY do what they say they were going to do. We offer no alternatives for fear we will be left off the next phone conference or as has happened to more than one driven from the ranks. Chevra, if you are still allowed in the game act now. You have nothing to lose but our communities and those we support certainly do.

Anonymous said...

Did a JFNA Committee or some group within JFNA make a decision to divert millions pledged during Operation Protective Edge from aid to the victims of terror to be used in the Negev for undefined purposes. Did they do so without any JFNA governance action and without communicating this diversion to the federations or federation donors who had dedicated these millions for another purpose entirely? Who authorized these acts and under what authority?

If these actions are true, what trust can we have in JFNA whatsoever?