JCL Update 05/28/10

by David Klein, Planning and Allocation Committee Co-Chair

Conundrum: a paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem; a dilemma.

Williamson Turn: (nautical reference) an emergency procedure that very quickly puts a ship back in a location but heading in the opposite direction. Creates short term chaos which leads to positive results.

Okay, so here is where we find ourselves today as a Jewish community in Louisville. Short on cash but long on needs and desires.

The annual campaign is in wrap-up mode and early returns indicate that while we have made significant gains over the amount we raised last year, we will fall short of the goal that was set.

These Campaign results cannot altogether be attributed to the sluggish economy nor should they be taken as a negative reflection on Campaign leadership. They are, however, the reality we have to deal with.

From the 2008 Jewish Community Needs & Opportunities Assessment, we learned that there is broad agreement within Louisville’s Jewish community that the allocation of funds needs revamping. Funded agencies don’t always meet the needs of constituents and their families.

The first steps to identify these discrepancies were taken by the JCL’s Program Review Committee, co-chaired by Karen Abrams, Sheila Berman and Jeff Tuvlin, which released its report in December. The Strategic Directions Committee, chaired by Kate Latts, is continuing that work, integrating the Program Review Committee report with facilities and financial information.

Louisville’s position is not unique. Studies undertaken by the Jewish Community Centers of America (JCCA) suggest donors prefer their contributed dollars be utilized for the support of specific and relevant programs as opposed to general operations. This is a major shift from the historic approach to fundraising – and consequently funding.

So now, the JCL’s Planning and Allocations Committee is facing a conundrum. How do we fulfill our community planning responsibilities and still make appropriate allocations of scarce resources in a timely fashion?

Thus, the Planning and Allocation Committee is undertaking a re-evaluation of the process of allocating funds to agencies and programs that serve  Louisville’s Jewish Community as well as assist Jewish programming overseas.

The requests will most likely exceed the available funds from the Campaign. Based on presentations from agencies and the JCL, the members of the committee will have to decide how to distribute funds left after the budget committee decides the expenses needed to run JCL. It will not be easy.

The Planning and Allocations Committee has begun its work with the able assistance of facilitator Kelly Wesley and my co-chair Joe Hertzman. We have assembled a group with broad representation from all parts of our community who are engaged in the process and committed to its success. That means even those who will receive allocations are at the table.

We have agreed on some basic rules of engagement, which are posted online here.

We have also established three primary goals for this year’s allocation process:

Create trust in the process through consensus building amongst community representatives;
Provide a focus regarding the needs and opportunities within the Jewish community; and
Start to implement the planning functions in the coming year.

Operations and the day-to-day management of JCL is critical for our community and the programs that we raise funds for. For the current fiscal year, we, as Board members, found it necessary and voted to utilize unrestricted funds from the endowment to support daily operations of the entity that is now a combination of the former Federation and JCC. That is what these endowment funds are set aside for – to ensure the long-term success of our organization and to assist in times of critical need.

Post merger, however, the JCL leadership released the members of the Endow-ment Committee and there has been little or no effort to address the issue of replacing endowment funds or building an awareness of the need for long-term Jewish philanthropy. Thus, placing our long-term future funding needs in jeopardy.

So now we must consider the Williamson Turn. I don’t think we have the luxury of time to “turn the battleship.”  We need to take a radical approach with planning and allocations that may create short-term consternation, but will ultimately lead to long-term benefits.

I am suggesting that our final recommendations may be a surprise to many, and on the whole somewhat revolutionary, but given that we are at a crossroads, this seems to be just what our JCL needs. I believe our recommendations will be evolutionary in an effort to maintain and grow a vibrant and active Louisville Jewish community.

We are also putting the planning back into the process. We have been meeting on a regular basis and integrating and evaluating the goings on of the entire Jewish community.

Once we have addressed the immediate and pressing allocations needs, we will engage our planning mandate seriously by meeting year-’round and focusing on strategic community planning.

From our findings as a committee thus far, we realize that it is incumbent upon us to be both responsive to the primary desires of the Jewish community and to be creative in addressing the funding of programs that are important to the thousands of area Jewish families that have placed their trust and faith in us and to reaffirm our validity to those who have wandered away.

You have a part to play, too. The Planning and Allocations Committee can only allocate the dollars that have been pledged to the 2010 Annual Campaign by June 30. You control the size of the gap between dollars raised and community needs.

If you have not made your pledge to the Campaign, please do so today. If you have already made your pledge, thank you. Any additional donations would be welcome. Please call 451-8840, pledge online, or send your check to the Jewish Community of Louisville, 3630 Dutchmans Ln., Louisville, KY 40205.

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