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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘UJC’

Shrinking Coffers, Mass Layoffs Push Federations Into Crisis Mode

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009


Three of the largest local Jewish federations in the United States announced significant layoffs during the past two weeks, raising concerns about the future health of the country’s main Jewish charitable network.


Since the beginning of March, the Jewish federations in New York, Cleveland and Atlanta have laid off between 11 percent and 25 percent of their professional staffs. Each organization cited shrinking donations because of the economic downturn as the reason behind the moves.


Nonprofits across the board have been hit hard by the recession and forced to enact similar levels of staff cuts. Hillel, Hadassah and a slew of other organizations have all made similar moves, as have Yeshiva and Brandeis universities.


Howard Rieger, the president and CEO of the federation system’s national organization, the United Jewish Communities, expressed significant concern for the system and UJC’s own well-being as an organization that relies on dues from increasingly cash-strapped federations.


“We all know what is going on in the economy, and federations are trying to adjust to the moment,” Rieger said on Monday. “Some communities have been hit harder than others and we know some communities where it looks like the status quo.


“A lot of it has to do with the mix of how leadership in those communities earn their living, and the federations that are adjusting to that and those that have been hardest hit are making the biggest adjustments. As a nonprofit organization, the overwhelming share of your cost is staff. There are other things in terms of infrastructure you can’t cut, and I think you are likely to see more” layoffs.


His comments follow a run of layoffs at major federations, among them:


On March 11, the country’s largest federation, the UJA-Federation of New York, which raised some $153 million in its annual campaign last year, announced it was cutting 52 employees – slightly more than 11 percent of its staff. The federation is 10 percent behind in its fund-raising pledges compared to the previous year and 12 percent behind on collections, and has seen its $675 million endowment shrink by 25 percent.


The same day, the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta laid off 14 employees in an effort to cut 19 percent from its operating budget – the second round of layoffs that the federation has faced, according to UJC staff members.


On March 5, the Jewish Federation of Greater Cleveland announced that it had laid off 25 staffers as part of a plan to trim $600,000 from its operating expenses in the face of a $3 million budget shortfall. Donations to the federation’s annual campaign reportedly are down by about $5 million, and its endowment funds have decreased in value by 29 percent.


On Dec. 19, Doug Seserman, the president and CEO of the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, announced that the organization was cutting staff by 15 percent.


The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco recently laid off three staffers, in an effort to help cut $400,000 from its budget, according to the organization’s CEO.


Rieger is warning that the federations are dangerously close to putting their operations in jeopardy if they have to cut more.


“It is a two-edged sword,” he said. “You cut all you can and see how you can work better. But as organizations look to cut, they have and should be cognizant of the future. Federations are not going out of business. The needs that they meet are not lessening; they are growing. In free fall, needs are going to grow.


“Yes, we need to rationalize cuts in operations, but we need to be able to grow for the future. You can’t cut back so much that you can’t grow in the future.”


It’s a message that hits close to home for the UJC.


In May, the UJC cut 37 jobs in an effort to reduce its budget from $40.2 million to $37 million, and it is facing more cuts in the near future.


The organization is under intense pressure from the federations it serves to cut its budget even further. Prior to a February powwow of more than 200 federation leaders in Florida to discuss the future of the UJC, a letter signed by several major federations circulated asking the organization to cut its budget.


Rieger responded at the meetings by offering to slice the budget another 10 percent and is waiting to see if that will be sufficient for the federations. The decision could be made over the next several weeks, as the UJC is set to hold budget meetings soon in Chicago.


This has UJC employees on edge, according to sources within the organization who feel that the UJC already has cut as much fat as it can and now is in danger of cutting into meat and bones.


“If that 10 percent proposal were to be sustained, that would mean that in the course of a handful of years, we have cut our staff by 45 percent,” Rieger said.


“The question for us is no different than the question for all the federations: What do we need to do to sustain operations? What elements of this work that we do would we just stop doing because we have reached the limit on proportionality? The last thing we want to be is equally non-productive in all areas.” (JTA)

Shrinking Coffers, Mass Layoffs Push Federations Into Crisis Mode

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Three of the largest local Jewish federations in the United States announced significant layoffs during the past two weeks, raising concerns about the future health of the country’s main Jewish charitable network.

Since the beginning of March, the Jewish federations in New York, Cleveland and Atlanta have laid off between 11 percent and 25 percent of their professional staffs. Each organization cited shrinking donations because of the economic downturn as the reason behind the moves.

Nonprofits across the board have been hit hard by the recession and forced to enact similar levels of staff cuts. Hillel, Hadassah and a slew of other organizations have all made similar moves, as have Yeshiva and Brandeis universities.

Howard Rieger, the president and CEO of the federation system’s national organization, the United Jewish Communities, expressed significant concern for the system and UJC’s own well-being as an organization that relies on dues from increasingly cash-strapped federations.

“We all know what is going on in the economy, and federations are trying to adjust to the moment,” Rieger said on Monday. “Some communities have been hit harder than others and we know some communities where it looks like the status quo.

“A lot of it has to do with the mix of how leadership in those communities earn their living, and the federations that are adjusting to that and those that have been hardest hit are making the biggest adjustments. As a nonprofit organization, the overwhelming share of your cost is staff. There are other things in terms of infrastructure you can’t cut, and I think you are likely to see more” layoffs.

His comments follow a run of layoffs at major federations, among them:

On March 11, the country’s largest federation, the UJA-Federation of New York, which raised some $153 million in its annual campaign last year, announced it was cutting 52 employees – slightly more than 11 percent of its staff. The federation is 10 percent behind in its fund-raising pledges compared to the previous year and 12 percent behind on collections, and has seen its $675 million endowment shrink by 25 percent.

The same day, the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta laid off 14 employees in an effort to cut 19 percent from its operating budget – the second round of layoffs that the federation has faced, according to UJC staff members.

On March 5, the Jewish Federation of Greater Cleveland announced that it had laid off 25 staffers as part of a plan to trim $600,000 from its operating expenses in the face of a $3 million budget shortfall. Donations to the federation’s annual campaign reportedly are down by about $5 million, and its endowment funds have decreased in value by 29 percent.

On Dec. 19, Doug Seserman, the president and CEO of the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, announced that the organization was cutting staff by 15 percent.

The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco recently laid off three staffers, in an effort to help cut $400,000 from its budget, according to the organization’s CEO.

Rieger is warning that the federations are dangerously close to putting their operations in jeopardy if they have to cut more.

“It is a two-edged sword,” he said. “You cut all you can and see how you can work better. But as organizations look to cut, they have and should be cognizant of the future. Federations are not going out of business. The needs that they meet are not lessening; they are growing. In free fall, needs are going to grow.

“Yes, we need to rationalize cuts in operations, but we need to be able to grow for the future. You can’t cut back so much that you can’t grow in the future.”

It’s a message that hits close to home for the UJC.

In May, the UJC cut 37 jobs in an effort to reduce its budget from $40.2 million to $37 million, and it is facing more cuts in the near future.

The organization is under intense pressure from the federations it serves to cut its budget even further. Prior to a February powwow of more than 200 federation leaders in Florida to discuss the future of the UJC, a letter signed by several major federations circulated asking the organization to cut its budget.

Rieger responded at the meetings by offering to slice the budget another 10 percent and is waiting to see if that will be sufficient for the federations. The decision could be made over the next several weeks, as the UJC is set to hold budget meetings soon in Chicago.

This has UJC employees on edge, according to sources within the organization who feel that the UJC already has cut as much fat as it can and now is in danger of cutting into meat and bones.

“If that 10 percent proposal were to be sustained, that would mean that in the course of a handful of years, we have cut our staff by 45 percent,” Rieger said.

“The question for us is no different than the question for all the federations: What do we need to do to sustain operations? What elements of this work that we do would we just stop doing because we have reached the limit on proportionality? The last thing we want to be is equally non-productive in all areas.” (JTA)

Olmert Bids Adieu To U.S. Jews, Says ‘Peace Within Reach’

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008


JERUSALEM – In a normal year, an address by the Israeli prime minster would be treated as the centerpiece of a gathering of American Jews, especially one being held in Jerusalem. But the context of Ehud Olmert’s appearance at the opening plenary of the United Jewish Communities General Assembly on Sunday was anything but normal.


Olmert, who will leave office after his successor is elected Feb. 10, is stepping down in disgrace.


The subject of intense scrutiny over his financial dealings during his term in office, he announced his resignation this summer after American businessman and philanthropist Morris Talansky agreed to testify in a case involving allegations that Olmert accepted bribes from foreign donors and mishandled nonprofit money.


So on Sunday night, an Israeli prime minister forced to resign over money received from a wealthy American donor was delivering a farewell address of sorts to thousands of wealthy American donors.


For his part, Olmert treated the speech to more than 3,000 lay leaders and professional staff of the North American Jewish federation system as if it was a typical goodbye.


“Although this is, most likely, my last appearance before this distinguished crowd as prime minister of Israel, this is by no means a goodbye,” Olmert said. “I am certain we will continue to meet and discuss all the important issues that affect Israel’s future, that affect our joint future, the future of the Jews across the world and the future of us here in the State of Israel.”


Olmert went on to say that the world cannot allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons and that he would continue to push for peace with the Palestinians and Syria in his remaining days as prime minister.


“Peace with our neighbors we leave to our children,” he said. “It is within reach.”


Though Olmert appeared committed to leaving on a positive note, he clearly was not at his best Sunday.


The departing prime minister mistakenly referred to the yearly General Assembly as “the biannual General Assembly meeting.” Olmert also flubbed the G.A.’s tag line, “One People, One Destiny,” saying, “This year the G.A. is focused on the young generation of the Jewish people under the title ‘One People, One Destination.’ I cannot imagine a more important issue confronting our people at this time.”


And he committed something of a nonprofit faux pas, offering up what seemed to be veiled endorsements for two top federation system officials who reportedly are planning to run for office with Olmert’s Kadima Party: Ze’ev Bielski, the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel and World Zionist Organization executive, and Nachman Shai, the head of UJC operations in Israel.

In his opening remarks, Olmert thanked several officials at UJC and its overseas partners, the Jewish Agency and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, before singling out Bielski and Shai for added praise. Shai is leaving the UJC after the General Assembly, and it has been reported that Bielski is not far behind.


Olmert, who according to several sources received a cool reception from top federation donors at a banquet before his speech, led off the assembly, but the candidates vying to succeed him were scheduled to speak later in the conference. Defense Minister Ehud Barak of the Labor Party spoke at a plenary Monday, and Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of Kadima were scheduled to speak Wednesday. Livni was to be the last of the three to speak on the G.A.’s final day.


Following his remarks, Olmert received respectful applause.


“One of the great things about democracy is that leaders come and go, or their terms end or they get voted out of office, so it is not unusual for a political leader to speak to a Jewish audience or any audience as a lame duck on their way out,” said William Daroff, the director of the UJC’s Washington office. “It is part of the dynamic. You want to walk with people as they are building up their careers and you want to walk with them as they flourish or as they don’t flourish.”


Steve Morrison, a delegate who made the trip from Madison, Wis., agreed.


“This will be the last time he speaks to a G.A. as a prime minister, so it is an historic moment,” Morrison said. “He won’t be the PM when we meet next time in Jerusalem in five years. He is the prime minister of Israel, so you give him respect.


“I remember when I was one of these young people here in attendance tonight, I was able to be in an audience to hear Lyndon Johnson speak, who I detested. It was the end of his presidency and he announced he wouldn’t seek office. But even in my young 20s, and I disagreed with him, he was still the president.”

(JTA)

Olmert Bids Adieu To U.S. Jews, Says ‘Peace Within Reach’

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

JERUSALEM – In a normal year, an address by the Israeli prime minster would be treated as the centerpiece of a gathering of American Jews, especially one being held in Jerusalem. But the context of Ehud Olmert’s appearance at the opening plenary of the United Jewish Communities General Assembly on Sunday was anything but normal.

Olmert, who will leave office after his successor is elected Feb. 10, is stepping down in disgrace.

The subject of intense scrutiny over his financial dealings during his term in office, he announced his resignation this summer after American businessman and philanthropist Morris Talansky agreed to testify in a case involving allegations that Olmert accepted bribes from foreign donors and mishandled nonprofit money.

So on Sunday night, an Israeli prime minister forced to resign over money received from a wealthy American donor was delivering a farewell address of sorts to thousands of wealthy American donors.

For his part, Olmert treated the speech to more than 3,000 lay leaders and professional staff of the North American Jewish federation system as if it was a typical goodbye.

“Although this is, most likely, my last appearance before this distinguished crowd as prime minister of Israel, this is by no means a goodbye,” Olmert said. “I am certain we will continue to meet and discuss all the important issues that affect Israel’s future, that affect our joint future, the future of the Jews across the world and the future of us here in the State of Israel.”

Olmert went on to say that the world cannot allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons and that he would continue to push for peace with the Palestinians and Syria in his remaining days as prime minister.

“Peace with our neighbors we leave to our children,” he said. “It is within reach.”

Though Olmert appeared committed to leaving on a positive note, he clearly was not at his best Sunday.

The departing prime minister mistakenly referred to the yearly General Assembly as “the biannual General Assembly meeting.” Olmert also flubbed the G.A.’s tag line, “One People, One Destiny,” saying, “This year the G.A. is focused on the young generation of the Jewish people under the title ‘One People, One Destination.’ I cannot imagine a more important issue confronting our people at this time.”

And he committed something of a nonprofit faux pas, offering up what seemed to be veiled endorsements for two top federation system officials who reportedly are planning to run for office with Olmert’s Kadima Party: Ze’ev Bielski, the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel and World Zionist Organization executive, and Nachman Shai, the head of UJC operations in Israel.

In his opening remarks, Olmert thanked several officials at UJC and its overseas partners, the Jewish Agency and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, before singling out Bielski and Shai for added praise. Shai is leaving the UJC after the General Assembly, and it has been reported that Bielski is not far behind.

Olmert, who according to several sources received a cool reception from top federation donors at a banquet before his speech, led off the assembly, but the candidates vying to succeed him were scheduled to speak later in the conference. Defense Minister Ehud Barak of the Labor Party spoke at a plenary Monday, and Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of Kadima were scheduled to speak Wednesday. Livni was to be the last of the three to speak on the G.A.’s final day.

Following his remarks, Olmert received respectful applause.

“One of the great things about democracy is that leaders come and go, or their terms end or they get voted out of office, so it is not unusual for a political leader to speak to a Jewish audience or any audience as a lame duck on their way out,” said William Daroff, the director of the UJC’s Washington office. “It is part of the dynamic. You want to walk with people as they are building up their careers and you want to walk with them as they flourish or as they don’t flourish.”

Steve Morrison, a delegate who made the trip from Madison, Wis., agreed.

“This will be the last time he speaks to a G.A. as a prime minister, so it is an historic moment,” Morrison said. “He won’t be the PM when we meet next time in Jerusalem in five years. He is the prime minister of Israel, so you give him respect.

“I remember when I was one of these young people here in attendance tonight, I was able to be in an audience to hear Lyndon Johnson speak, who I detested. It was the end of his presidency and he announced he wouldn’t seek office. But even in my young 20s, and I disagreed with him, he was still the president.”

(JTA)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global//2008/11/19/

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