Friday, July 13, 2018


This will not surprise anyone, especially not readers of this Blog -- often times, when a new (or interim) CEO steps into federation leadership, things hidden under the rocks or behind the misrepresentations for years and years are discovered.

This has recently occurred in two communities (which shall remain nameless) with dire consequences for the communities themselves and for the overseas "partners," if not JFNA as well:

~ In one of these federations, the CEO and his minions preached that they were at the cutting edge of transformational change as they moved the community from a traditional annual umbrella campaign to the "ultimate" in designated giving. Yep, "Total Choice FRD," or whatever it was called, was destined to fail. (In fact, within the first weeks of this "innovative" CEO taking the communal reins, I visited with him and, hearing the bare-bones outline of this then embryonic plan, I explained that this approach would (a) had undermined the centrality of federation in the communities where it had been applied under various names; and (b) had failed in every federation where it had been attempted. This new CEO responded by saying he was quitting on the spot. He didn't.)
So the "transformational change" went forward. Donors sent their funds, designating them as they saw fit, with a small amount generally available for federation's sacred work. The result -- the campaign appeared to dramatically increase; when, in fact, the only aspect that increased was in the conduit that federation had become. (A review of the 990s discloses the futility of it all.)
Often, in the midst of what was represented to be campaign growth, the CEO and other senior professionals in the community, offered themselves for available positions in other communities generally without success --other than one, hired by a larger federation for a brief period, before reality struck.
Then came "discovery." The CEO finally found a landing spot -- not with another community but with a national agency. It did not take very long for his successor to discover that the claimed "transformation" was really change for the worse. The federation was in dire financial circumstances unable to fulfill its current (and past) allocations commitments to the overseas partners (and, no doubt, some local ones as well). 
A mess. 
~ In another federation, years, and millions, of unpaid allocations were discovered by the new CEO to have been built up without the ability to pay. (Way, way back in the day, I was visiting communities as UJA's Regional Chair to talk about allocations and service. I went to visit a community in the Midwest. On my way there I saw that the community had unpaid allocations dating back several years and over $1 million. Sitting with the CEO and lay leadership, I pointed to the account receivable on UJA's books and learned that the lay leadership knew nothing of the arreaage. Working together, we developed a reasonable payment plan.) 
What happened to those millions will be a matter for a future Post
And, what are the common factors in both of these unnamed federations beyond hubris and mismanagement? 

1. An abject failure of lay oversight within the community. Lay leaders willing to ignore what was right in front of their eyes believing that the CEO "will take care of it;" and
2. A failure by the continental organization to monitor continuing communal failures. Where was the Financial Relations effort? Is there one anymore? Where was the staff -- the JFNA COO and CFO and those assigned to dealing wit the communities? Is there still a Cash Collections effort? What were the JFNA professionals doing? What, if anything, were/are they telling the communal leadership? What are they telling JAFI/JDC/WorldORT?
Two communities -- certainly the tip of the organizational iceberg. This is a disaster.



Anonymous said...

Devastatingly disheartening to read. While I don't know the specific communities, I can guess. The lack of commitment to the whole, the lack of leadership, and the shortsightedness, is appalling.

...and Rome burned

Anonymous said...

Are federation lay leaders just totally abdicating their fiduciary responsibilities assuming "the CEO will deal with it," showing up to accept the accolades for the surface successeswhile they ignore the horrible failures? There is a day of reckoning and it's fast approaching.

Anonymous said...

There are obviously CEOs who hide the facts from their lay leadership when the facts are bad news. Eventually these chickens come home to roost and the CEOs are either gone or, then, soon to go. These must be in communities where the there is a great imbalance in the lay-professional partnership. Where there is no sense of responsibility there is no accountability.

Anonymous said...

You cited two federations but the same thing will happen in the aftermath of Jerry -- yes,the truth will out there as well. And everyone will be surprised. And it will be no one's fault, no one's fault at all.

Anonymous said...

You, we are no doubt unaware of the frequency with which federations are in real denial of their own realities, with te facts withheld from them by CEOs protecting their jobs/careers at the expense of their communities.