(See charts below)
Each year, at the close of the annual Federation Campaign, the Jewish Community of Louisville’s (JCL) Planning and Allocations (P&A) Committee, composed of dedicated lay leaders from across Louisville’s Jewish community, must decide how to allocate the funding provided to the Campaign by generous donors, including many readers of Community.
This year, as in recent years, due to reduced funding available from our community’s unrestricted giving, the needs of the local agencies outweigh the money available, and that doesn’t take into account the community’s desire to provide funding for Jewish agencies nationally, and internationally, especially in Israel. The decision making process last month was very challenging.
For allocations to support fiscal year 2015 budgets, the committee was given the amount of $1,855,000 available for allocation. This amount is determined by reserving a portion of pledged funds to account for pledges promised but never paid, and an expectation of a portion of pledges not received by the deadline that are anticipated with high confidence based on prior giving levels. Any funding available from collections in excess of the prior year’s holdback is also included, as every dollar received for the annual campaign is included in the allocations process.
“If the Campaign does well, everybody benefits,” P&A Committee Chair Jay Klempner said. “If the Campaign is down, there will be cuts – maybe not across the board – but by the priority and effectiveness of the programs and services. … Our committee looks hard at every entity, especially the Jewish Community of Louisville (JCL) itself.”
Klempner and Vice Chair Leon Wahba credited each member of the committee with dedication and commitment. “Our community can take a lot of comfort in the composition of the committee,” Wahba said. “It is very diversified with respect to age, congregation affiliation and gender. Everyone on the committee has held leadership positions with their congregations, the Federation, Jewish Family & Career Services, their congregations, National Council of Jewish Women or some other Jewish entity. We all leave our preferences at the door and try to make decisions that will make our community a better place for every Jew.”
Committee members invest many hours in reviewing requests, listening to presentations, asking questions that enable them to be responsible stewards of community funds, evaluating submitted materials, holding every agency to account and debating the issues.
“They looked at what was going to be in the best interest of the community,” Klempner said. “We have a process that is fair – it will not always be equal, but it is fair.” Each allocation request is considered carefully. All committee members ask questions and engage in substantive dialogue. “In the end, we have always had a unanimous yes vote for each allocation.”
Klempner, who has chaired the committee for the past three years, said the committee has consistently been pushing all recipient agencies to be transparent in their operations, to engage in their own fundraising initiatives enabling them to become less dependent upon the Campaign and to collaborate more with each other.
The committee’s allocation recommendations are then reviewed by both the JCL Executive Committee and Board of Directors. Following extensive discussion, the JCL Board accepted the Planning and Allocations Committee’s recommendations at its May 27 meeting.
The committee’s goal, Klempner explained, “is to ensure that all children get the opportunity for Jewish education,” not to subsidize the individual schools.
In fact, he pointed out, Louisville is almost unique. The Jewish Federation of Louisville provides funding to synagogue-run schools. “Very few similarly-sized Federations give any significant funding for congregation-run schools, and of the ones that do, Louisville gives more.”
Of 32 intermediate-size Federations affiliated with Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), only five communities provide any financing to Jewish high school programs; and 13 provide funding for kindergarten through eighth grade programs. For Fiscal Year 2015, the Louisville Federation will provide $250 per student – $78,000 to lower school programs and $15,000 for high school education. The same formula, $250 per student, was used in Fiscal Year 2014. The chart below uses Fiscal Year 2014 information. The difference in the total allocation is a result of lower projected enrollment in Fiscal Year 2015.
Last year, the committee put in place a financial aid component of its allocation and encouraged schools to follow a procedure similar to the one the JCC uses to award scholarships, using Jewish Family & Career Services’ confidential procedures to establish need.
The committee encouraged schools to charge tuition high enough to cover the costs of running their programs and to provide scholarships to students whose families needed help with the tuition.
Mid-year, in response to the schools’ concerns, the allocation was restructured to return to the committee’s earlier practice of providing a $250 per student subsidy. This year, the committee allocated $15,000 to the High School of Jewish Studies for its 60 students, $41,250 to The Temple Hebrew School for its 165 students and $37,500 to Louisville Beit Sefer Yachad for its 150 students.
“This allocation demonstrates a strong commitment to education in our community,” Wahba said, adding that he believes it is sad that community support for Jewish education is decreasing as is shown by decreasing attendance at all the schools.
The committee also praised Louisville Beit Sefer Yachad for taking the initiative to create a major fundraiser, which enabled them to be more self-sufficient.
Jewish Family & Career Services
Jewish Family & Career Services provides services and programs that reach people across Kentuckiana, serving all who are in need. “It is a very well run agency with a strong board,” said Wahba. “And a strong leader,” added Klempner.
The agency is dedicated to tikkun olam, the repair of the world. In addition to strong leadership, it has a skilled, committed staff and a devoted cadre of volunteers. It has taken the initiative to expand its programs and runs several fundraisers each year, including its signature MOSAIC Awards Dinner and, in conjunction with the JCC, the Republic Bank Players Challenge.
While the Planning and Allocations Committee was unable to fund JFCS’ full request, the committee allocated $309,000 to the agency, $14,000 more than it received last year and continuing the pattern of the last several years.
Jewish Community of Louisville
The Planning and Allocations Committee recognizes that its largest allocation goes to the Jewish Community of Louisville because of the scope and nature of its offerings and its role in the community. Klempner and Wahba made very clear that they hold the JCL to the same standards they apply to all other agencies that request allocations, and the committee carefully examined the JCL’s programs, services, administration, operations and finances before making its recommendation.
“Year after year, the JCL’s allocation has been reduced, primarily because we don’t have enough resources to distribute,” Wahba pointed out. And year after year, the agency has absorbed losses from unpaid pledges that have exceeded the reserve without passing any share of the shortfall on to other agencies.
Despite these financial challenges, the JCL has added programs, enhanced the quality of its offerings and reduced the agency’s annual deficit while “the administration and staff are struggling with an old building in need of a lot of repairs,” Wahba added.
The two had words of praise for the staff as well.
Following the JCL’s initial presentation, the Planning and Allocations Committee followed up with a dozen questions covering many aspects of the agency’s budget, requesting comparisons of revenues and expenses over the years and changes in the Federation Campaign, the endowment, the agency’s long- and short-term debt and more.
The JCL administration provided detailed answers and analyses of agency performance from 2008, the year before the JCC/Federation merger, through 2013, along with year-to-date information for fiscal 2014.
“There is clear information that the JCL is doing better in many areas,” Klempner said.
The analysis showed that the JCL allocation corroborates Wahba’s observation about the JCL’s allocation. In fiscal year 2008, the allocation (total of JCC and Federation before merger) was $1,348,464. It declined each year thereafter and in fiscal year 2014, it was $1,152, 743 – a drop of nearly $200,000.
For fiscal year 2015, the committee allocated $1,194,955 to the JCL, an increase of $42,212 or 3.7 percent.
Klempner and Wahba went on to praise the JCL administration and staff for reducing the agency’s annual deficit over the past three years from $1.5 million a year to $300,000, and they noted the administration has committed to continue to work toward eliminating the shortfall completely. The Planning and Allocation Committee, the JCL Executive Committee and the JCL Board have all made it clear that their expectation is that the JCL will eliminate the deficit completely as quickly as possible.
Another big concern, Klempner said, is the issue of people who make pledges and don’t pay them. While this year’s Campaign closed around $2.1 million, “we only allocated $1.8 million because of uncollected pledges. It is unfair for the JCL to absorb bad debt each year, yet continue to distribute the funds that were approved for allocation.
One of the major reasons the JCL faces cash flow issues and deficits is that people make pledges to the Campaign and then fail to pay them. “If you make a pledge,” he continued, “pay it. … A successful Campaign means you get paid and it is paid on time.”
Wahba, who is also working on collecting past-due pledges, agreed, noting that the JCL just wrote off $750,000 worth of unpaid pledges that date back five to six years. This impacts what the community can do.
“Remember,” Klempner added, “over the years, these dollars were allocated and the funds were paid out to the agencies even though the pledges remained unpaid. The JCL absorbed the shortfall.”
Together, Klempner and Wahba pointed out that the JCL touches everyone from the youngest members of the community to seniors with more programs and services than ever. It offers preschool, summer camp, BBYO, Hillel, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), subsidized meals for seniors to email updates and Community.
“Bottom line,” Klempner summed up, “The physical property on Dutchmans Lane is the place where Jews can go and feel welcome, to get help, to enjoy themselves and to be exposed to Jewish culture. It’s up to the JCL to provide a venue for the Jews of Louisville, and it’s up to all the Jews in Louisville, whether or not you use the JCC facility, attend JCC- or Federation-sponsored programs or use their services, to recognize the need, value and culture of having our own place.”
Israel and Overseas
While most of the money raised by the annual Federation Campaign stays in Louisville to support local agencies, programs and services, a portion also goes to fulfill our obligation to the Jewish community nationally and in Israel and to help Jews at risk around the world.
“What pains me the most, as an ardent Zionist,” Wahba said, “is we had to significantly reduce our allocation to Israel [and overseas]. In 2012, we allocated about $490,000, this year, we were only able to allocate $190,000.
“Yes, it is true that Israel is much stronger financially than it used to be;” he said, “however, there are still a lot of poor Jews throughout Eastern Europe and Russia that rely on our support. And, JAFI (the Jewish Agency for Israel) and JDC (the Joint Distribution Committee) are busier than they have been in a couple of decades helping Jews from places as disparate as France and the Ukraine escape anti-Semitism by making Aliyah.”
That $190,000 goes to support Louisville’s Partnership 2Gether programming with the Western Galilee, to help JDC (the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee), which provides assistance to Jewish communities at risk around the world, and JAFI (the Jewish Agency for Israel), which helps Jews in places like Ukraine who want to make aliyah to Israel.
It also covers the JCL’s fair share dues to JFNA (the Jewish Federations of North America), which comes back to the community in the form of support services in a variety of areas.
An additional $51,000 is allocated to a variety of organizations covering Birthright Israel, the Hillel Consortium, the Foundation for Jewish Camp and other national groups.
See chart, this page, for the full list of allocations.
In addition to Klempner and Wahba, members of the Planning and Allocations Committee are Jon Fleischaker, Harry Geller, Lance Gilbert, Jane Goldstein, Ralph Green, Dennis Hummel, Elizabeth Kaplan, Paul Margulis, Ellen Rosenbloom and Jacob Wishnia.
Wahba will chair the Planning and Allocations Committee next year. Klempner will remain on the committee as past chair.
“I also note with appreciation and regret that our good friends Jane Goldstein and Judy Sharp, after many years of invaluable service are stepping off the committee,” Wahba said. “We will miss their wisdom.”
Wahba is now looking for committee members who are willing to and can fulfill the obligations of the Planning and Allocations Committee as detailed in a formal document of expectations. Wahba asks interested parties to contact him by leaving a message with Paula DeWeese at the JCC, firstname.lastname@example.org or 238-2764.
(click image below to enlarge)