Perspectives by Deborah Corber, CEO

Edition 5,  March 6, 2015

Federation as a Business or the Business of Federation: Part I

Deborah CorberThere’s a move these days to rename the “not-for-profit” sector the “social profit” sector.

Writing in the Globe and Mail several years ago, Paul Alofs, President and CEO of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation asked, “what other sector of the economy refers to itself by what it’s not? Grocery stores don’t call themselves ‘not furniture stores.’ It creates an expectation that we should not be profitable. This negative naming has created a severe disadvantage for us compared with the other sectors in how money is raised, how it gets spent and who gets to “profit” from success. A better name is the ‘social profit sector’.”

The need to re-frame our business was recently brought home to me. I asked a group of young business people and professionals how they thought of Federation CJA – a not-for-profit corporation – in relation to the for-profit world. Their answers were revealing: Federation CJA doesn’t have to worry as much as real businesses do about making a profit, because your goal is “to do good”.

Actually, we do have to worry about many of the same things that for profit businesses and firms do. We need to focus relentlessly on our top line – our revenue – because that’s what allows us to do good.  Revenue for us is money raised, and the bulk of it comes from our annual campaign and corporate sponsorships.

We need to worry about our bottom line, too. In our business, “profit” means funds available to allocate – “allocable dollars” – after expenses are covered. Like a for-profit business, the equation is simple: greater revenues and lower costs mean more allocable dollars, and that translates into greater power to do good.

We need to think about competition and market share.  People today can choose to donate their dollars and their time to a wide array of charities and causes, all trying to do good

Without taking anything away from the many great organizations dotting the landscape, we need to make the case for our own, unique value proposition, that no other gift has the power to impact so many Jewish lives. The extent to which we succeed determines our market share or “penetration” rate: the number of donors who give to the annual campaign and volunteers who give of their time, both of which impact directly on our ability to do good.

And finally, just as businesses are accountable to their shareholders, we are accountable to our stakeholders. Who are these stakeholders? Well for starters, if you received this blog in an email, you’re likely a stakeholder. Anyone who makes a gift to the annual campaign is a stakeholder, just as anyone who benefits from a program or service for which we provide funding is a stakeholder. The agencies and organizations that deliver those programs and services are also stakeholders. And every single stakeholder is entitled to know what we fund and why, and how we run the business of Federation.

Federation CJA is managed and run by paid professionals like me. But we are governed by a volunteer board of directors who are responsible for: (1) fiduciary oversight – ensuring that we act and spend in compliance with the law, and (2) strategic direction – ensuring that we make the best choices and decisions to care for our community’s needs today while building for tomorrow.

The board of directors and senior lay leadership are really the trustees of our community’s (our stakeholders’) interests. It’s a sacred trust, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that it is performed with a level of talent, diligence and commitment that is truly second to none.

Federation CJA is a “social profit business” that consists of doing good in and for our Jewish community and for the Jewish people at large. In the months ahead, I’ll explore with you in greater detail what that means for what we do (the business of Federation CJA) and for the way we’re run (Federation as a business).


  Of Note

CIJA Jewish Defence League JDL Montreal PoupkoThe Jewish community doesn't need the Jewish Defense League
"The Jewish community of Quebec categorically rejects the sensationalist tactics of the JDL and rejects its claim of ensuring the safety of Quebec Jews and their institutions," said Rabbi Reuben Poupko, member of the board of CIJA-Quebec. .
http://bit.ly/JDLvscommunity

Bronfman Israel Montreal ClaridgeBronfmans are investing in Israel again, this time with a surprising new partner
Canadian family is teaming up with Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec to take a stake in innovative companies. After a nine-year absence, the Montreal-based private investment firm Claridge, the investment vehicle of the Charles Bronfman family, is returning to Israel — this time as a technology investor in partnership with the Caisse.
http://bit.ly/Bronfmansisrael

Obama Israel anti-SemitismLe poids des mots
Barack Obama a préféré éluder la nature antisémite de l'attaque contre l'Hypercacher. Un choix révélateur des intentions du président américain. (article in French)
http://bit.ly/poidsdesmots

Jewish Millennials Rules of Engagement5 Tips for Engaging Jewish Millennials
After three years of consulting with "engagers" - professionals engaging Taglit-Birthright Israel alumni and young Jewish adults in local communities - we've learned a lot about what they need to be successful in their work.
http://bit.ly/Jewishmillenials

Nisman Amia ArgentinaAlberto Nisman, the AMIA bombing, and the pursuit of justice in Argentina
This is in fact a complicated story, but one that reflects Argentina’s travails with its Jewish minority, with its totalitarian past and with its self-image. In part, this is a story about Jews in Argentina. There are more Jews living in Buenos Aires than in Montreal or Toronto.
http://bit.ly/Amiajustice

Morocco MontrealExotic 19th-century Morocco portrayed in Montreal exhibit
Life in 19th-century southern Spain and Morocco, with its mixing of Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures, is vividly recalled in the current main exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) until May 31. Organized with the Musée des Augustins in Toulouse, France and co-sponsored by the embassy of Morocco and the Communauté sépharade unifiée du Québec (CSUQ).
http://bit.ly/Moroccoexhibit

Hollande France Jews anti-SemitismFrançois Hollande: les Juifs ont «leur place en Europe»
Le président français François Hollande a assuré lundi que les Juifs avaient «leur place en Europe et en particulier en France», en dépit de l'appel aux Juifs du premier ministre israélien, Benyamin Nétanyahou, à rejoindre Israël. (article in French)
http://bit.ly/juifshollande

Dreyfus Manuel Vals anti-SemitismDreyfus Affair revisited? French premier’s Jewish wife prompts accusations of dual loyalty
A major Jewish organization urged French President François Hollande to punish a former foreign minister for making what was widely perceived to be an anti-Semitic allegation against Prime Minister Manuel Valls earlier this week.
http://bit.ly/Dreyfusaffair

Svatikas NDG Montreal anti-Semitism Quebec National AssemblyNational Assembly denounces anti-Semitic graffiti in N.D.G.
“I wish to reassure the public that we will not tolerate that Quebecers be subject to threats because of their origins or religious beliefs,” said Premier Philippe Couillard in the assembly, in a rare English declaration.
http://bit.ly/NDGgraffiti

 

 Get Perspectives in your Inbox

* First Name
* Last Name
* E-mail

Past Editions Past Editions