Thursday, September 6, 2018


I don't know the exact date that the 2017 JFNA IRS 990 went "public" -- you know the annual filing that JFNA wouldn't make if the IRS didn't require it. In all events, the most recent 990 reveals almost nothing about what JFNA is doing and little about what JFNA did during the Fiscal Year 2016-2017.

What it did disclose was just more of the same:

  • Consultants -- it should be hard for me to criticize JFNA for being the full employment organization for Consultants inasmuch as I am one myself (though not for JFNA, sad to say). But...JFNA makes it so necessary...
    • The organization reports that it retains 29 Consultants who were paid more than $100,000 in FY 2016-2017;
    • Among the itemized Consultants are 2 which appear to have been retained for "producing" the GA to the tune of $1.2 million -- money well spent??
    • How many Consultants paid less than $100,000 served the organization in 2016-2017? 
    • And what were al of these Consultants doing for the federations? That's "CONFIDENTIAL"
  • Professionals -- see if you believe that there is accountability at JFNA when...
    • 11 professionals earned were paid in excess of $200,000 in FY 2016-2017
    • Of those 11, 5 were paid in excess of $300,000 in the fiscal Year
    • And, the highest 3:
      • Silverman -- $692,000
      • Gurvus -- $400,000
      • Caspi -- $353,000
For any of you who believe that federations are receiving a return on these "investments," I have a bridge to sell you.

Are there examples of JFNA's "excellence?" Of course -- JFNA is great when acting as a conduit. For examples...

  • Millions in Holocaust Grants (although there was no disclosure of the criteria used in awarding the Grants to 10s of local agencies); or
  • Emergency Grants for, e.g., Hurricane relief
I hate to be picky but: 
  • Why doesn't JFNA publish its 990s by sending the link to them directly to its Board members? 
  • What standard has been codified to determine that a list of consultants and the purposes of their engagement ARE "Confidential?"
The 990, for any charitable organization is an opaque document; perfect for an opaque organization.



BOB HYFLER said...

Oy Richard, the comment on Holocoust grants as regards the absence of stated criteria in the 990 is a bit of overeach that might create a negative misperception.

I have been a volunteer reader on said grants for three years. (I have, given a new board position, recused myself moving forward.) I can assure your readers that the process and, more importantly, the guidelines and grant application is a model of transparency and due dilligience. One can have no doubt as to criteria and its application. In addition, staff has gone above and beyond in making the process and educational/networking follow up an exercise in promoting systemic change and learning.
Shana Tova to you and all!

Anonymous said...

To your last point about sending a link to the board, as a former board member of a non-profit organization, I recall that there is a question on the 990 form that asks "Yes"or "No" - did the board of directors review the 990 before filing (or some such thing. It would be interesting to know how JFNA answered that question and if they answered it truthfully if they said "Yes". (I assume from your post you believe that it was not shared with the board.") I also seem to recall that Charity Navigator takes off points against the overall score of the organization if the organization answers the question "No".