Saturday, July 8, 2017


If you were to closely examine the JFNA 2017-2018 Budget, approved in rubber stamp fashion last month, I think that you would, as did I, find it continuously infuriating. There are many reasons for this some of which you will find below. 

  • After a decade of Budgets under the Silverman "regime," if there is accountability and measurement, I challenge you, or anybody, to find it;
  • For this fiscal year there is something called "Budget by Priority" and, yet, "[I]n order to make this process manageable within our accounting system we did not break every program budget into all of the priority areas that they touch." In other words WHAT???
  • So, "Budget by Priority" is expressed as something "new" even though it can't be presented to you as to what it means. Last year we wrote: "Last year the Budget was expressed in terms of Priority Program Goals ostensibly to answer the questions: 'where can JFNA have the greatest impact for Federations and which programs can only a national system deliver?'" In other words, in this year's Budget old is presented as new and both old and new are presented in such a way as to be beyond measurement or accountability.
  • This year, as last, we are to be assured that "[T]hroughout the year JFNA will continue to evaluate its programs to adjust or shed those that aren't being utilized utilized adequately, or which don't represent areas where the national system can add unique or significant value to the federations." In other words, "trust us" from an organization that has yet to earn our trust. This is Budget as Farce.
  • Speaking of farce: JFNA's revenues still presume 100% payment of Dues and, among other things, revenue from the Network of $1,765,000 or 35% of its funds raised. Egregious? You think so?
  • Further, the Israel Action Network is considered one of JFNA's highest priorities by both JFNA's lip service to it and by the IAN leadership. Yet, JFNA is increasing its grants from the IAN this year of $889,000 and apparently expects the IAN to fund raise hard within the federations for the increased support it deserves while cutting JFNA's financial support of the IAN. 
  • And, while the still start-up JFNA Jewish Education and Engagement Unit which JFNA has "funded" by stealing hundreds of thousands from the National Agencies-Federations Alliance Funding Pool -- $819,000 last year alone -- with that Funding Pool significantly depleted, JFNA will only be able to glom onto $603,000 this fiscal year. And....not a word of protest from the Alliance leadership. It's no wonder that the Alliance has experienced more and more federations dropping out.
  • Internal fund raising at JFNA, a responsibility of CEO Silverman (although there is the possibility that that has been the responsibility of the Sr. Vice-President for Institutional Advancement, Beth Mann), has been an annual debacle. It's secreted away under the rubric "Institutional Advancement." Last year that failed FRD in 2015-2016 caused the Budget for this thing to be reduced by, as I  recall $450,000 for 2016-2017. Well, friends, whoever was responsible failed again, failing to come close to this reduced Budgeted amount by $250,000 and, so, the budget for this fiscal year has been reduced to reflect that diminished amount. Now, I understand that JFNA has hired a full-time FRD professional just to raise money for JFNA's Budget. So, Jerry Silverman, whose job was halved by the hiring of a COO, now, apparently, unless the failing is Beth Mann's (see above) has failed so badly in one of his few remaining responsibilities that the organization will hire a full time staffer to fulfill that one. (This at a time when the FRD Department is operating with a group of part-time consultants, in part because JFNA cannot "afford" full-time FRD professionals.) How does JFNA's leadership cabal tolerate this? I guess by cutting the GA Budget; it's always fail and declare victory. 
Perhaps, this was the goal all along: the leaders of JFNA have constructed a Budget that is impenetrable. Congratulations to one and all. I guess that's an accomplishment.

Isn't it?



Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's the summer season where everyone tries to take a break, however I find it disheartening that nobody is commenting on this particular post.
I have to believe that most of the people who read Richard's blog live in a federation catchment area, and so I'm urging each of us to send this particular blog to both the CEO and President, not demanding action, but instead a response.
As with almost all things, following the money is the most revealing, so let's start the process with our individual federations.
Mine has been sent.

Anonymous said...

The JFNA Budget has become an annual "farce" -- one repeated year-after-year. Richard may have had some hope that the appointment of NY's Jodi Schwartz as Budget Chair would make a difference; it has, under her leadership the Budget has become an even greater embarrassment. If, in practice, the Budget can bend has been and will be ignored as money is just moved around without process, why even go through the charade that JFNA's leaders permit. There is enough shame to go around.