Wednesday, July 4, 2018


At the end of May continuing into early June, that most important daily journal, ejewishphilanthropy, entertained a point-counterpoint, counter-counterpoint, discussion between the CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, Andrew Rehfeld, and Misha Galperin, once the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and, then, the President of the Jewish Agency for Israel-North America, on the subject of "Who are Federation's Customers.?" 

Allow me to over-simplify: What set off Misha was Rehfeld's conclusion that the community's "customers" are not the donors, seemingly dismissive (though that was not his intent) of the donor community as somehow less important than the community's "clients." 

Much ado about....I know of no successful federation that has ever described its donors, at whatever the giving level, as "customers;" I don't think that his community had ever done so. Rehfeld seemed to so characterize in order to have a false premise on which he built an elaborate response. Those federations -- and they are fewer and fewer as we all know -- which have built successful fundraising efforts year-after-year have never lost sight of the reality that those fundraising successes are based upon reaching out to donors to support the most critical needs of the communal clients --as Misha wrote: "mission-driven but market sensitive;" those communities which have proved unable to articulate their mission, have no or, at best, a shrinking, market.

The St. Louis CEO, coming to federation with a fresh outlook from academia, perhaps has built new success in the St. Louis federation without realizing that he has been doing so based on an old, even retro, methodology and  awareness. His writing suggests that he has happened on a revelation, when, in fact, he has merely discovered the best communal practices and applied those in new and creative ways or in what has already proved successful elsewhere -- it's hard to tell which.

So, yasher koach to these professional leaders for placing old wine in new bottles.



Anonymous said...

Richard, it appears that the St. Louis CEO "doth protest too much." Perhaps you would want to examine the claimed results and compare them with those once claimed in Denver which proved to be so much smoke and mirrors.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't donors should be considered 'partners'

Anonymous said...

Is this how Federation CEOs spend their time today? I remember when they spent less time congratulating themselves and more time building community and Peoplehood instaed of worrying about how to describe their "donors."

Anonymous said...

At least there are seemingly new ideas coming out of St. Louis and an apparent new energy. You find neither of these coming out of JFNA the home of no ideas and no energy, Shut it down and start over.