WEST HARTFORD – It may be a sign of a strained economy, or heightened public cynicism toward things financial. In response to a communal call to restructure giving priorities, the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford will initiate a new allocations process starting this spring.
The change comes as a result of recommendations in the Long Range Plan, a joint effort of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford that was completed last summer.
“The new allocations model will enable the community to provide funding which meets its varied and growing programmatic needs,” says Alys Krichavasky, vice president of planning and community investment at the Federation.
Starting with this year’s annual fundraising campaign, monies raised for the Federation will be allocated to programs that impact upon the following three areas:
• Services to ensure the continuation of the unique Jewish story, ethic, and culture, and the community which embodies all these, with an emphasis on young people and families, and the development of Jewish community leaders;
• Services that promote the Jewish values of acts of loving kindness and tzedakah for the elderly and/or vulnerable of our Jewish community who cannot be well served by non-Jewish services, as well as for these populations in Israel and across the world; and
• Outreach to Jewish people, including interfaith families, who have limited or no affiliation with the Jewish community, and outreach to residents outside the traditional core area of West Hartford and Bloomfield.
In addition to the current beneficiary agencies, the new allocations process will be open to synagogues for the first time, with the stipulation that the program a synagogue seeks to fund be collaborative with at least one other synagogue or agency. Such partnership among agencies will be encouraged.
“These are significant changes in the new programmatic allocation process which the Federation hopes will enable expanded programming opportunities within the greater Hartford Jewish community,” says Lee Pollock, chair of the Planning and Allocation Steering Committee (PASC).
The Long Range Plan also clarified the funding roles within these programmatic areas between the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford. While the Federation will fund core programming of the community, the Foundation will fund special programming and meet unique communal needs. Specifically, the Federation will focus its efforts toward already existing programs, and the Foundation will give priority to funding new and innovative programs for a period of one to three years.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford raises approximately $5 million annually, but that appeal has netted some 15 percent less in recent years. At the same time, basic social-services needs have grown; the kosher food pantry at Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford has seen a 1200-percent spike in demand since 2008.
“The change in our allocations model is partly about transparency,” says Krichavasky. “We want our donors to feel connected to the process and see where their dollars are going, and we want to fund what our Jewish community feels we need to fund. This new model will be helpful to our donors because they will be able to see the specifics of what we’re funding, rather than a single allocation to an agency.”
The priorities established in the study were the result of input from a wide range of stakeholders and constituents, Krichavasky says.
The process seeks to avoid duplication of services: for example, a candidate program already established and available in the secular community wouldn’t be funded. An agency can apply to fund any existing or new program.
Cathrine Schwartz, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation, expects to see allocations requests increase from 30 to somewhere between 45 and 60. Up until the change, allocations decisions were primarily made on an applicant’s budget and presentation, Schwartz says. “Now it will be much more interactive and metrics-based. In general, we all need to work less in silos and be more open to everyone.”
The new model introduces into the review process three allocations sub-committees, each of which will choose candidate beneficiary programs based on one of the three funding priorities. Those committees will comprise some 25 teams of two volunteer evaluators; each team will review two applications, using a newly designed evaluation tool. The subcommittees will make their funding recommendations to the Planning and Allocation Steering Committee, who will present final allocations candidates to the Federation board at its June meeting.
Jewish Federations throughout the state have different allocations processes. For example, like Greater Hartford, UJA/Federation Westport Weston Wilton Norwalk beneficiaries include both agencies and individual programs, while UJF of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien strictly funds agencies.
Applications are due by Apr. 11. All agencies have been invited to meet with Federation leadership to learn about the process, says Krichavasky, though larger agencies that have received Federation funding in the past are already familiar with the program-based model used by United Way.
“We are all part of one Jewish family, and the Jewish Federation is there to help our agencies and schools and organizations find this process as accessible as possible,” she says. “Our only goal is to be a better Jewish community.”