2. Dr. Feelgood. Hidden amongst the names and no-names on the Speakers List for the GA is one Dan Pallotta. I didn't know Mr. Pallotta until good friends in the field sent me on a brief quest for Pallotta's consulting record and his mantra. I now know him as Dr. Feelgood. In his bio for the GA, here is one cite:
"At TED2013, Pallotta gave a powerful talk asking the public to rethink their assumptions about charities. Pallotta shared the story of his own nonprofits — AIDSRides bicycle journeys, which raised $236 million for HIV/AIDS over a period of nine years and Breast Cancer 3-Days, which raised $333 million for breast cancer over a period of five years Both went out of business because of public outrage that his organization spent 40% of its gross on so-called “overhead”—things like staffing, marketing and creating a great experience for those who participated." (Emphasis added)
Those "restraints?" They are otherwise known as "accountability," "responsibility" and "fiduciary duty."
Pallotta's mantra is simple: your success as a non-profit requires a greater investment in overhead; ignore those who complain about costs of fund-raising and spend all that you need to spend to achieve your organizational objectives; 50% overhead; 60%...don't worry about the objections. The good Doctor's message will resonate with those whose communities are spending 20%, 25%, 50% and more to raise a dollar...But it's a dangerous message. Just right for a JFNA GA. But good Doc Feelgood is getting a lot of play.
3.Silence. Usually I am just aghast at JFNA's silence on every issue of importance to the Jewish People. But, now, you may have noticed that for the past months, nothing whatsoever has been heard from the usually open mouths at 25 Broadway. So, I am suspicious that something is up beyond the 5 year vacation that CEO Jerry has been on since his hiring. Is Jerry out racking up more Frequent Flier miles or does he go dormant in the Summer? Like a snail. Or is something about to be sprung upon us -- another TribeFest or a Tel Aviv 2 (again) or...G-d please...his retirement with benefits. Waiting fearfully.
4. Abandonment. Speaking of silence last month the "new" Netanyahu Government coalition abandoned the prior commitment of the "old" Netanyahu Government coalition to "ease" conversions. The Jewish Agency was vocal in its displeasure and appears to be planning an awkward non-governmental response that the ultra-Orthodox Religious Affairs Ministry will never recognize. All of this while JFNA was doing absolutely nothing. Perhaps and as usual our organization was "surprised." And, even so, JFNA's failed/failing Global Planning Table pursues private non-federation funding for its Civil Society Initiative. Would you...or you...entrust JFNA through its GPT with any Initiative? COME ON. BTW, the action of the GOI Cabinet on this issue did merit a link to a NYT July 5 article on the subject -- the attitude expressed "this is not our problem" is so, so wrong.
5. Shiny Objects. Under its current, what passes for, professional "leadership" JFNA has an evident institutional attention deficit disorder. This may account, in part, for its ridiculous record of never successfully completing...anything. (N.B. when I write this be aware that I exclude from this Commentary the exemplary work in Washington led by William Daroff resulting in millions for our system. If only the rest of JFNA could follow that example. [And I exclude from the commendation for JFNA-Washington, its work on the Alliance and Emergency Relief where even that Office is more in the mode of JFNA generally].) It's not just where JFNA has chosen a path -- an ish, a TribeFest, a Global Planning Table, a "Signature Initiative," a Mailbox or 10, among so many -- it's that as soon as a Nepal arises, JFNA is distracted by this shiny object, from "Completing the Journey" or from assisting the Jews of the Ukraine, as but examples. Hence, the "ask" after "ask" with no prioritization -- and the failure after failure. These are what create the circus atmosphere in which JFNA fails time and time again. And this will not stop until there is some leadership -- where is that going to come from? Look around.
6. That "Reply All" Button. One has to continually marvel (if that's the word) at those who fail to understand that most of us, recipients of a group email announcing a conference call, don't care whether you will participate. At least I don't.