"Imagine for a moment that "collective responsibility" created entitlement and fostered a lack of transparency and accountability.I have a vivid imagination in particular as I can actually imagine a continental organization of excellence, and while I am a dreamer, I dream with a sense of realism. And I fear that our correspondent may not fully understand what "collective responsibility" truly means.
Now imagine that smart, thoughtful Federations from NY to LA are defining a new "collective responsibilty" based on strategy, donor engagement, priority setting, measurable outcomes and partnerships."
Let me explain...
At the outset all of us would agree that there have been beneficiaries of our collective effort which have demonstrated a sense of "entitlement...a lack of transparency and accountability." And I would suggest that no organization better evidences all of those than does JFNA where our Dues are an expression of collective effort. And I have no doubt that if our "donors"/the federations -- to JFNA, JAFI, JDC, the Alliance or other -- demanded transformational change, transparency and accountability, change would occur. Instead, too many of us just take our marbles and move on to the next shiny object.
And let's fully understand that "collective action" is not that of any individual federation or any two or three -- it is the cumulative action of the many, if not all. So, for example, if Federation A determines that it shall drastically cut its allocation to, e.g., JAFI, to reallocate its global resources to, let's say, the Israel Trauma Coalition, that's an action that's neither "smart" nor "thoughtful" let alone impactful as would be the collective actions of multiple communities working together toward a collective goal. In far too many circumstances that I have observed over the years, individual federations have camouflaged themselves in the blanket of "collective action" to rationalize what was/is nothing more than a grant of limited impact. ..often very limited. For example, in the midst of Operation Promise of blessed memory, one Large City held back $150,000 in funds raised for the collective action in response to a War on Israel and, instead, allocated 30 tiny grants to small and large Israel-based charities. When I asked that community's Israel Representative why the funds were allocated for the collective purpose for which they were raised, he responded that the community liked to "expand its influence in Israel." I suggested that $5,000 per grant would have no impact on the beneficiaries -- the Rep just shrugged.
Back to the quote above from my Anonymous friend: I, and all of you, want what the writer believes he and his community are getting -- "donor engagement, priority setting, measurable outcomes and partnerships." The writer clearly believes that neither he nor his community (nor anyone for that matter) are getting those vital elements of any allocation from the historic beneficiaries -- and I am betting that those include JAFI and JDC.
As the discussion ensued, one Commentator offered the perfect riposte:
"Federations are supposed to be the central fundraising arm for the community and for overseas partners who are not represented at the table. There are lots of advantages to this structure, not the least of which is that every organization can concentrate on its mission while federation concentrates on providing the resources, every donor can give one gift that covers lots of beneficiaries thus not being put in apposition of competing forces asking for donations, beneficiary agencies avoiding having to develop their own fundraising budgets, staff and so forth. JFNA (or some national organization) needs to be the model for federations promoting all beneficiaries. Instead this is what we get - a national organization that chews up and spits out $30 mil annually, fails to advocate and represent the international organizations, and forces the national organizations that we created to service the local agencies to become independent fundraisers. (BTW - what will now happen as federations raise less money and they give less money to their own beneficiaries as well - the national organizations of these local beneficiaries will now need to compete directly with the local agency they represent for the same dollars from the same donors. And if you pull your head out of the sand you will see that in very few cases will the donor select the national agency over funding the local agency they are supposed to be servicing."So, for those of you who would rather see your community pursue its own new sort of shiny objects than attempt the reformation of the beneficiaries of our collective efforts for a greater good, and sacrifice the potential of macro benefits from collective action for the short term micro benefits of "a little here, a little there" -- wishing you all the best.