"The issue is not simply one of personalities and operations but of strategic role and first principles. In my proudly demoded way of thinking our system will not prosper by fully embracing the unholy grail of designated giving. Federations were built to guarantee the infrastructure of community building at home, the infrastructure of nation building in Israel and the safety, support and rescue for beleagured and struggling Jewish populations worldwide. Aping the distribution practices of private foundations (which for a host of reasons we do poorly) will not further these aims. The day to day business of Jewish life seldom meets the criteria of sexy, innovative and new, nor can it survive based on '3-5 years and out' grant making. Are there smarter ways of distributing the dollars raised by Federations? Definitely. Should we be listening more to our grass roots? We must. Can we communicate with donors based on greater program specificity - of course. However the 'hows' of Federation practices must not be so transformed as to undermine and hence lose sight of our historic and still relevant strategic role in Jewish life."I would wager there are not more than two persons (maybe not more than 1) at JFNA, and certainly not Smilin' Jerry, who understands what Hyfler is talking about, let alone is capable of implementation.
Needless to say there is no on-going planning function at JFNA; G-d forbid. It's hard to conceive of a serious continental organization of and for the federations that not only has no internal planning function for its own work, but no external planning function that would assist the owners -- for example, in annual campaign and special campaign planning assistance; federation-agency planning assistance; merger planning (as opposed to merger implementation); allocations planning; and on and on. But...there's no one home at 25 Broadway. There is no planning capacity...none at all.
I have never been a believer in those for profit or non-profit organizations that operate on a "planning through budgeting model" -- where the budget is the plan. If JFNA leaders were to have the temerity to suggest that we can find its "plan" in its budget then it would be obligated to demonstrate how it has performed under its budget -- and it can't do so. In fact, the JFNA annual budget is nothing more than framework and, since the departure of its former CFO, Sam Astrof, JFNA has been transferring budgeted dollars from one silo to another with no evident lay oversight -- how else could one explain the alleged 50% of Budget ascribed to Financial Resource Development when there is and has been...none? Where has that money gone? Don't ask...never ask.
And, again, the question: where is the leadership demanding that JFNA exercise its planning responsibilities? How can JFNA legitimately claim to be planning for the system (or even itself) when it has no planning budget, no planning personnel -- and, yet, it does have and has had a Senior Vice-President for Institutional Advancement!! (And, what's that job description?)
Ahhh, me, the circus is so much fun.