Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Popular within certain JFNA circles is the assessment that "all fund raising is local" and building on that assumption the argument builds that "inasmuch as all fund raising is local, why should JFNA spend any significant money on FRD?" Those who espouse such presumptions should at the least acknowledge that they are rebuttable and consider the rebuttal in light of the sincerity with which it is offered. At the same time, while admitting that an overwhelming amount of funds are raised in our communities, no one should ignore the foundational fact that a continental organization of and for the federations has a major role to play in the communities' FRD success...or failure.

Those among the JFNA laity and professional claque who deprecate the value of a continental FRD effort should, as an example, read their own FedCentral on the web pages of which one can read pro upon pro, week after week, asking for FRD information and support -- and JFNA offering none presently, these pros have to seek out information and examples from among their peers. I don't know the quality of the responses, if any, but I do know that the response to every one of these requests should flow from the FRD Department of a functioning  Continental organization promptly and with the necessary expertise. Today, that is not the case; tomorrow...who knows? While we have applauded the hiring of Brian Abraham as JFNA Senior V-P, Campaign on these very pages, the question remains: what the hell took you so long? Can Brian be effective leading from Chicago? Can an effective FRD effort be built upon a base of consultants, no matter how good they may be?

Yes, FRD is "local" but that doesn't mean that a continental system that knows its purpose doesn't have a major role, a vital role to play in assisting communities in so many ways. Let's look at some of those roles:

  • Campaign planning
  • Campaign staff training and education
  • Building the case for giving
  • Solicitor training
  • Direct solicitations in partnership with local leaders
  • Speakers
  • Donor management
  • Mission planning and execution 
  • Annual campaign video collaboration
  • Articulation of the collaborative fund raising model
  • Building constituencies and the "next generation"
  • Sharing best practices 
  • And more
Some of this continental work is, actually, being done at JFNA today; most isn't.

There are those who continue to argue that JFNA has no major role to play in financial resource development because "all fund raising is local." These leaders are so wrong. One must assume that these same leaders want JFNA to be nothing other than a weak trade association -- the very direction that JFNA is heading under its current professional leadership by virtue of a lack of direction and, some would suggest as I have, incompetency.

Friends, even were "all fund raising local" as some believe, it does not follow that JFNA has only a minor role to play. Among the framing purposes of the merger that created JFNA was to create more financial resources for our federations, for our People. The merger demanded "more dollars and more donors." And what have we today: annual federation campaigns continuing last or down, while non-federation Jewish fund raising generally has shown dramatic increases according to recently published surveys; and donors to our campaigns have fallen to 350,000 to 400,000 from 900,000. And only last year did JFNA hire a consultant, in the absence of professional campaign leadership, to draft a plan for continental FRD; and only this  month did JFNA hire an FRD professional leader. 

At JFNA it's always playing catch-up...badly. And, even then, we are so damned lost.



Anonymous said...

In addition to sharing best practices one of the most important things to me as a federation pro both campaign director and executive vice president was the regular sharing of statistics that came from UJA. While it was also interesting to see how other communities were doing within our city size group it was a very important tool that I used with the lay leadership and campaign cabinet to show where we were doing well compared to the past and where we were falling behind compared to the prior few years. This stimulated us to re-direct efforts on segments that needed to be improved.

RWEX said...

Thanks you. I should have highlighted this critical need along with the planning void at JFNA -- a void that Silverman has perpetuated through, I believe, ignorance. How can a federation-driven organization have a Senior V-P for something called "Institutional Advancement" but lack any and every planning function?