I am pretty good at reading "between the lines" of Jewish organizational Reports, Minutes and narishkeit. And, so...
In the Board Chair's Summary of JFNA's Members meeting/vote on modifying the JFNA Dues formula (for questions raised see Is There Real 'ROI' Here, my Post on the subject), this sentence stood out:
"We recognize there are issues to work through to address concerns and questions raised on the call. I encourage us to all work together in the spirit that characterizes our collective system and move forward." (Italics added)90 of 146 Federations voted in favor -- that's a relatively healthy 61% majority; yet, 56 federations did not vote "yes" -- an unhealthy number, certainly. But, doing that "reading between the lines" thing, Chairman Wilf clearly suggested in his "summary" that there were some strong objections registered -- something the prior administrations tried desperately to suppress. Mark Wilf and Eric Fingerhut have their work cut out for them.
Perhaps some objections were harsh, not "in the spirit that characterizes our collective system" (who writes this stuff?) -- whatever that means. Sounds like a good debate. This caused me to think back to the debate on the Resolution that implemented JFNA leadership's commitment to emasculate UIA. Objections at that meeting last year were expressed respectfully -- leadership's "objections to the objections" were expressed by some venomously, angrily and clearly "not in the spirit..." yada, yada, yada.
I agree with JFNA's leaders that a revision to the Dues formulary has been long overdue -- inasmuch as the last revision (one on which I worked under a terrific leader, Cleveland's Albert Ratner's, leadership) was in 2002 and which, at the end of the day, resulted in a formula that left too much to communal interpretation and created too many loopholes. But, the suggested "cure?"
As one of the FOB pointed out to me, the problem here is that JFNA starts from an annual premise of entitlement -- reflected in the constant $30 million base point for a Dues discussion. There is no discussion, no debate, about that. Why is the Dues base presumed to be the "minimum?" Why not $50 million (only kidding) or $20 or $15? Shouldn't that be the place to start the debate about Dues? I mean, really, if the JFNA Dues Budget were rational and transparent, the debate among the federations would be wholly different.
My suggestion to JFNA’s leaders, with respect, is to reboot the Dues discussion. Start this time by building the Budget brick by brick — stop talking about “zero-based” and actually
DO IT. Once communities debate a Budget and their buy-in is assured for a Budget that demonstrably and directly benefits them; then a new Dues formula follows logically.