Sunday, March 16, 2014


So many of you so often offer insights that I sorely lack. Here are Comments recently received:
"Contrast the GPT process and product to the JAFI/GOI initiative and its a tale of two cities: from the neverland of JFNA we see a dragged on expensive process dominated by the few and an over compensated consultants. Out of JAFI a promising work in progress with an ambitious startup timeframe and the engagement of diverse 100's in the conversation. Their just released Preliminary Report is well written, sensible and clear with some inspiring suggestions. Was it perfect? Maybe not? Was it an attempt at transparency and inclusion - definitely. Did it cost less in time and dollars to get to this point? Undoubtedly." 
"And while the Large City Execs are having their pow wow, the Jewish Funders Network is having their annual meeting. Those who believe the world revolves around them figure "no biggie", but where was the JFNA staff - who could have both contributed, and learned, from the various Jewish Funders Network sessions? Out to lunch as usual. 

If JFNA's CEO had any common sense at all, the LCE meeting would have also taken place in Miami - where personal relationships with hundreds of funders could have perhaps bloomed. 

But no, JFNA continues to live in its own bubble trying to be all things to all people and succeeding at none. 

JFNA, z"l. May their 20th Century memory be a blessing."
These two Commentators understand, what JFNA's lay leaders just haven't or can't come to terms with -- that JFNA and the Global Planning Table that has been allowed to become the tail wagging that dog, are being submerged beneath the waves of waste and simple lack of competency and comprehension.

Then the Blog received this Comment to our Post on The Hypocrisy of the GPT:

"Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "THE HYPOCRISY OF THE GLOBAL PLANNING TABLE": 

"From day one the GPT declared that it was about "new" money. All over and above. Steve Nasatir, John Ruskay, and Steve Hoffman all repetitively clarified this in meetings and made declarative and definitive statements over this issue. The issue was clear and the worries were assuaged by ironclad promises by GPT and JFNA leadership.

This is no urban legend. Now comes JFNA and declares this was always about reallocating JDC and Jewish Agency core allocations. This is reason alone to drop membership in JFNA.

A group of well meaning Jews meeting primarily in New York, and occasionally in Florida and California dream up some well meaning programs and without any study or understanding of the existing budgets of JDC or the Jewish Agency, decide that they know better and that JAFI and JDC should pay for it out of dwindling core allocations. This process slanders the very concept of "Planning".

They ask JDC and the Jewish Agency to work on the proposals and put meat on the bones of the wishes of the committee, and then declare that the Jewish Agency and JDC support the initiatives. Pure sophistry.

To suggest that there is a conflict of interest between advocating for increased core allocations while advocating for signature initiatives is illusory. There is no conflict. JFNA is not involved in any meaningful way in increasing or even maintaining core allocations. Voila - no conflict! And voila dwindling core allocations too. The GPT, by its very ongoing existence, is eroding the glue, the connecting tissue, the very ties that bind us together as a collective community for fulfilling Jewish responsibility world wide

This is only another indication of an organization operating out of control. The only thing that matters any more to JFNA is its own public personna. It no longer represents the Federations, no less North American Jewry. All that matters is promoting JFNA.

Just look at flagship programs: 

Tribe Fest: measure of success - just numbers. It serves no mandated need. It does not develop Federation leadership. It is in the primary programming business which is not now nor has it ever been JFNA's mandate

General Assembly: All about the numbers. Federation recipients like JCCs, JFS,s, Homes for the Aging, and day schools are not even invited to participate. It is all about agencies that we do not fund. Shiny objects, smoke and mirrors. No meat.

Mark Gurvis: JFNA heralds the hiring of a quality federation professional. To quote JFNA in its press release: "In this newly created position, Gurvis will work closely with President and CEO Jerry Silverman to manage the organization and strengthen JFNA’s services to Federations. " The first major project assigned to Gurvis is the Israel Prime Minister's initiative. Help me. I am not kidding. There stand Becky Caspi and Danny Allen, the top paid senior staff hired to manage JFNA's Israel engagements, and Jerry adds Gurvis to head the project. As we used to say in solicitations, when JFNA made them, "I would like you to consider" that this is complete and total proof of managerial incompetence. The one place that did not need Gurvis gets Gurvis, while the rest of the system continues to be starved to death. 

My beloved lay chairs, this is virtual embezzlement of our peoples' Tzedaka dollars. You have a higher responsibility than even your own money. This money is coming out of the Pushka. You gave your manager resources to manage and he mismanages them day in and day out. And you are standing by. 

This is your reputation on the line. And this failure is ultimately yours."

Finally, this:

"Josephus said... 
Were there an historian of the Federation system (which there really is not for want of survivors) that person might summarize the past 15 or so years as follows:

The partnership of Federations with its global partners was replaced with a vision of an all powerful federation driven UJC;

UJC board authority was replaced with the supremacy of the large city executives;

The supremacy of the LCE'S was replaced by reliance on a smaller inner group LCE's;

The small inner circle of LCE's was replaced by the UJC/JFNA CEO working in consort with a powerful and bullying chairperson and chair of the executive;

When, with a formal change of lay leadership, past leadership refuses to give up authority, and newly elected persons to the senior two lay positions showed the potential if not the will for independent action, the CEO ignores them and does what he pleases."
Friends, I despair, as do these Commentators far more articulately than I, of the JFNA Chairs doing anything to right this ship. After all, it's damn hard work and it's "uncomfortable." The easy way? Just keep doing what you've been doing.. and as the Comment states: "This is your reputation on the line. And this failure is ultimately yours.

Go to any community and ask your major donors what they know of JFNA and the GPT -- eyes will roll. Explain what JFNA has accomplished with $650,000,000 of our funds and explain the Global Planning Table to them and the result will be the loss of 100s if not more of our major donors. But, no, keep hoping that somehow federation CEOs can continue to hide from the donor community the reality of what JFNA has not done over 15 years, that we have allowed $650,000,000 to be spent without accountability, with so little to show in terms of ROI. In fact, I would guess, that were Michael Siegal, successful businessman and philanthropist, not the Board Chair of JFNA and its "co-cheerleader in chief" with CEO Jerry, he would be standing with me and so many others urging transformational change at JFNA and an end of the Tower of Babel that the GPT has been from Day One.



Anonymous said...

Richard, do you really think that even these Comments will be the catalyst for the Board Chair taking any action to fix this terrible failure? I have spoken with him; he knows the disaster he leads; he cares; but he just wants to get through his terms as Chair with as few waves as possible. So he perpetuates the travesty.

Anonymous said...

Richard, your dedicated calling things the way they are has certainly been sobering for those who are not intimately familiar with the inner workings of JFNA.
However, Anonymous's comment about the current Board Chair knowing the disaster he leads, but just wanting to get through his term(s), is more than depressing. And if true, someone should call him out on it, and let the stampede to withhold dues begin.