The wrong question

I’ve spent a lot of time these past few months out in meetings – with rabbis, professional and lay leaders in our community, and volunteers.
If we haven’t met yet, let’s hope it’s because we’re in such a large community that I’m getting there.
But feel free to reach out and we can meet at a diner or a parlor meeting. I’m doing those regularly – I think they’re important for me to learn and listen, not just to speak and share my ideas.

One question that keeps coming up in these meetings is the question of Federation’s overhead. On one side, it’s a pretty straightforward answer, and you can easily check out our financials, our overhead ratios, and how efficient we are. I’m really proud of how we use donor funds efficiently and effectively, and if you support our work, I think you should be proud, too.

But here’s the thing: it’s the wrong question. Don’t ask me how big our overhead is if you want the measure of federation’s performance. The percent of expenses that goes on salaries and heating and fund-raising costs – that’s not the real measure. Impact matters. Results matter.

If you want a trained federation professional staff, committed and knowledgeable, you need to invest in them. You should be proud of them.
If you want a community that supports security, coordination, and cooperation, you need to invest in it.
And if you want a healthy fund-raising culture that encourages wide and deep participation, with low entries to come in, you need to invest in it.

Last week, in an instant, our federation stepped up and sent $103,000 to help Jews of Ukraine who are trapped behind firing lines or are internally displaced refugees.
Last week I sat with rabbis to discuss ways of running joint programs and helping outreach.
This week our federation is hosting dozens of people, in different missions on the ground, in our partnership communities in Israel.

We’re not a nonprofit organization. We’re a mission-driven organization.
The mission is to care, build, and save Jewish lives – at home, in Israel, and around the world.
We’re proud of our efficiency. But we’re also proud of our results and impact.


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