Federation shakes up allocations process

Federation shakes up allocations process

Organization ‘opens up’ to consider applications from more recipients

Taking a fresh approach in 2013, Jewish Federation of Monmouth County intends to provide funding to a greater number of worthwhile Jewish programming efforts than it has in past years.

Grants will be made along two separate tracks — one local and one international.

In addition to traditional beneficiaries, including local day schools and such agencies as Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Monmouth County, the federation will consider applications for funding from a number of smaller organizations as well as individual congregations.

“We are opening up the allocations conversation to consider prospective new beneficiaries,” said Ariella Raviv, the federation’s director of strategic impact.

On the international side, Raviv said, federation hopes “to increase transparency, increase understanding of and connections with our extended Jewish family beyond Monmouth County, and get our community more involved in the allocations process.”

The federation is inviting the entire community to a three-part “interactive overseas tour” at the new federation headquarters in Holmdel and at a location to be announced. The sessions will provide “slice-of-life glimpses of Jewish life outside the United States.”

“If you’re passionate about social justice and the human condition, or curious about some of the innovative ways people help people in the complicated world in which we live today, these sessions are sure to intrigue you,” said Tony Kestler, chair of the Israel and overseas allocations committee. “We’re trying to make it possible for armchair travelers to see new places and learn about the needs of Jewish communities around the world.”

One of the principal goals on the domestic side is to encourage useful and effective programming, said Bob Gutman, chair of the local allocations committee.

“Here in Monmouth County, we believe we are at the forefront of a new approach to federation philanthropy. We want to go beyond the mere funding of Jewish agencies — although we will continue to do that, too — and become more proactive about assessing and responding to the needs of the entire Jewish community,” he said. “Our belief is that federation has a responsibility to audit and engage programmatic activities, and this is our first step in this direction.”

Acknowledging that there is a finite amount of money to work with, Gutman said last year’s closing of the JCC in Deal freed up a block of funds. At the same time, he noted, the JCC’s closing left a significant gap in the amount of programming available to Monmouth County residents.

The federation also hopes to target worthwhile efforts being made by smaller groups and local congregations.

“We plan to give our donors a more direct voice in how their contributions will be used,” Gutman said. “Instead of just giving to agencies, we will now be giving to specific programs.”

Gutman conceded that people could choose to give directly to agencies and programs, instead of through federation, but argued that such bequests would necessarily be smaller and have less impact than when those gifts are merged with those of other donors.

Also, when giving individually, he said, donors have less ability to properly evaluate the effectiveness of the intended recipients.

“We think our new approach brings together the best of two paths to philanthropy,” said Gutman, an Ocean Township resident with a law office in Toms River.

During 2013, the federation expects to provide about 65 percent of available grant money for local beneficiaries and about 35 percent to meet needs in Israel and the former Soviet Union.

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