July 6, 2010
Sanderson Unveils His New Model for Federation
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“We don’t have special relationships. We have partnerships. If we can come to an understanding of what you are doing and of what the community needs and priorities are, we will start getting different kinds of requests,” Sanderson said.
Just two and half years ago, The Federation was reorganized under five pillars — Israel and overseas, community, leadership development, services for the vulnerable and Jewish education — a system fashioned by then-chairman Stanley Gold.
“I don’t think this is big change, but more of an evolution. The reason to go from five to three is to continue to focus the Federation on fewer activities, but do them better,” Gold said. “I haven’t made a secret of the fact that I think Federation is too big, almost amorphous. … When we’re doing a thousand things it’s hard to tell your story, and I think Jay is trying to focus us and be able to tell the story better.”
“What hasn’t happened as effectively as it should have with the pillars is integration. We had five pillars, but the pillars were not integrated, and people were not talking to each other,” Sanderson said. “The idea is that these three areas need to be fully integrated. In order for us to be effective at grant making and for this community to work, we can’t be so rigid. We can’t have silos.”
Sanderson also hopes to explore different funding calendars, so that organizations can apply for multiyear allocations, and he will set aside resources to fund organizations mid-cycle.
Operations will be streamlined and overhead reduced, and staff will be reorganized, though it is too soon to tell who or what might change. Susan Gotlib, The Federation’s executive vice president of campaign and finances, said she believes the mood in the building is more energized than worried.
“Change is never easy, but I think it can be exciting, and I believe Jay’s vision is very exciting and very welcome,” Gotlib said. “There’s an energy in the building that has reinvigorated the staff.”
Gotlib oversees the departments that raise money for Federation, and she has begun implementing Sanderson’s new model, which moves away from large events and toward personal relationships with donors on all levels of giving.
Using a model that has worked well in nonprofits around the country, Federation is integrating staff members from every department into the campaign efforts, training them to cultivate and solicit donors through personal relationships.
“If everyone in Federation is a passionate advocate for the work that they do, that will help us get the messages out to more people,” Sanderson said.
Gotlib said most staff members already casually tell people about what they do, and now that effort will be formalized through training and coordinated in a common database. In the past few months senior staff members have already been integrated into the campaign, and others staff members are following.
“Historically, people came to an event and made their gift,” Sanderson said. “That will be altered in that people in the campaign, as well as senior staff people, will have already had two or three meetings with donors before they go the event and in most cases will have already closed the gift. So the event will be more of a thank you than a reliance on getting 100 people in a room and getting them to make their gift.”
The staff is also gearing up for the centennial fund, a $100 million campaign to celebrate the Federation’s 100th anniversary in 2011. Gotlib said nearly half of that has already been raised, and Sanderson promises grand festivities, marketing and initiatives around the centennial.
Board chairman Sandler said he has witnessed the energy in the community since he became active in Federation a few years ago, and he is eager to build on it.
“There is a lot of passion in our community, a lot of caring about what we do and what is going on in the world,” Sandler said. “I think we have the forces in place right now to take those disparate organizations that are all trying to get to the same place and to do what Federation should do — help coordinate, convene and help people take those passions and channel them all in positive directions.”
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