Sunday, June 11, 2017


I first wrote about the "stealth $18 million special campaign" to aid an important Ethiopian Nation Project SPACE Program for children a few months ago. 

I had discovered it here...
"A supplemental $18M campaign for ENP (not envisioned when the budget was written) is underway. There is a Chair, an initial plan is being drafted, and almost $600,000 has been committed to date." (JFNA Mid-Year Report on Implementation of Budget Objectives)
And, then, in the 2016-2017 Year-End Report:
"An $18M multi-year effort to support the Ethiopian National Project, approved by the Executive Committee in the fall, is now underway. To date a total of $1.8M in gifts and allocations has been raised." (No breakdown of gifts/allocations was provided)
Now, this Campaign, if it can be called that, which in its first eightmonths has raised only 10% of its stated "goal," has been reduced to a generic letter -- well, here's what federations -- mainly Campaign Directors rather than CEOs or Board Chairs -- received mid-May:

If you believe that this is how to run a multi-million dollar Special Campaign (referenced by JFNA as a "supplemental $18M campaign" as if this is nothing more than another Mailbox) STOP reading this Post right now.

This ENP Campaign now has a name -- Project 1460  -- it has a tag line -- Let's Shape a Generation --it has an energetic and generous Chair in Detroit's Jane Sherman; and it has the full attention, apparently, of the JFNA Senior VP-Campaign, Brian Abrahams (whom, I presume, had this Campaign dumped on him as soon as he assumed the position [!!] much as, under CEO "The Buck Stops There" Jerry Silverman, prior failed FRD efforts were dumped on the departed Matt Freedman and Reuben Romirowsky). My own experience with Special Campaigns informs me that "Campaign by Letter" is not going to work, has never worked, is no way to conduct a major (and that's what an "$18M" effort is) fund raising effort. Oh, and, there is also a 3 minute Campaign video. (And, to assure success, pulling out all of JFNA's cap pistol explosions, the "campaign" has now surfaced on FedWorld. So, obviously, this is serious.)

When I first wrote about what I characterized then as a "stealth campaign," back on October 25, 2016, I recalled how the federations historically had failed to embrace the ENP when challenged to do so and how critical to a successful campaign of this size are the initial major gifts, gifts from the JFNA leadership, which would be the foundation for a major campaign effort. In January, when this "campaign" was first exposed to the JFNA Board in the paragraph quoted above, it appeared that there were some individual gifts (not all of them what you and I would consider "major") and some federation grants but there was no leadership at all on building a Special Campaign as all other special campaigns (even those like Operation Promise, which built its early success, in part, upon the commitments of the JFNA Board made at a caucus) had been built. The tool kit for a successful campaign such as this is right there at 25 Broadway -- maybe...perhaps...JFNA's leaders who agreed to this effort should have consulted with JFNA Senior Consultant Vicki Agron at the time they took on this Special Campaign.

No, this will be a different kind of "campaign." JFNA created a website -- -- a video, a generic letter to campaign directors, a Campaign Chair in Jane Sherman, a lead pro, the Sr. V-P, Campaign (who had no apparent input into planning for this major effort or in the determination to go forward with this -- but, then again, who did?), and some individual gifts (we'd like to see the list of gifts including those of the Board Chair, the Executive Committee [they approved this Campaign with no input or follow-up from the Board of Trustees you will remember] and the CEO), and a constant reiteration that this will be a "best efforts": meaning no one is committed to anything.

Now, this letter...from Becky inspire the federations. And, to underscore the importance of this "campaign," a sidebar reference in the daily FedWorld for what could emphasize importance more than that? Seriously, is this what passes for a Special Campaign at 2017? And, remember -- always remember -- this "thing." this "campaign" was conceived without any input from a JFNA FRD Department, if one existed at that time -- this appears to have been a Sandler-Silverman Special. As the Pottery Barn Rule states: "You break it; you own it" -- and, boy, do these guys own this one.

This is all so sad. As we concluded in our April Post: 
"And, most likely, this will become just another JFNA "ask" that will be added to the pile...and forgotten like so many others. The ENP will be left with hopes dashed; the Government of Israel abashed. At this point, my friends, JFNA and its leaders are truly beyond embarrassment.

Beyond embarrassment. Haven't we had enough?"



Anonymous said...

It's clear that JFNA under this leadership can't get anything right. All of us in campaigns know that the organization must kick-off a campaign with its largest gifts committed. It's clear that whoever started this ENP campaign, if it can even be called that, didn't have a clue. I would wager that of the claimed $1.8 million raised so far, 1/2 or more was in federation special allocation-- so JFNA has really raised almost nothing -- probably Jane Sherman's Foundation commitment and a pittance from Sandler and others.

Anonymous said...

Richard -- not on this topic, but I am sure you are aware that Gordon Hecker is leaving the Columbus Federation. A terrific person, and yet another "let's hire someone from the business world -- and someone we know locally as a lay leader" to be our CEO. He is leaving after 5 years. These jobs are not so easy once you get on the inside. And business success does not always lead to non-profit world enjoyment nor success.

RWEX said...

Thanks, I will be writing about Columbus' leadership response in an upcoming Post.