by Jacki Levin, Chair, Hamilton Jewish Federation Allocations Committee
Every year a very committed group of people wrestle with an extraordinarily difficult job: that of allocating a defined pool of money to more than 20 beneficiary agencies and programs across Jewish Hamilton. Our mandate is to ensure that all the needs of the community are equitably balanced against the four pillars of the Federation: Assisting the vulnerable; Strengthening Jewish identity through Jewish education; Supporting Israel; and Supporting the Jewish community through ongoing community development.
Each pillar is crucial to our community’s well-being, but when funds are sparse we have to prioritize the needs. We give highest priority to assisting the vulnerable among us and the next priority to Jewish education.
Every year, each beneficiary agency is visited by one of our committee members to discuss challenges and opportunities in the past and coming year. The agency then makes a presentation to the whole committee as to the work of their agency and we review their financial statements as well.We do this because we consider it a fiduciary duty in managing the community’s finances. After hearing from all of the beneficiaries we get down to the work of deciding how much money to recommend to the board of directors that each beneficiary should receive. It is the Board who makes the final decision based on our recommendations.
It is a task that the Committee does with dedication to the community. This year was no different. The total amount available for allocations was again based on a combination of pledges and cash received plus “reasonably assured” collections. I must say how difficult it is when beneficiaries are telling us that their need is great and the community just hasn’t raised enough money. In fact, the amount of money raised by the community is virtually the same as that raised in the 1980s, which just isn’t sufficient in 2017. Our agencies are suffering. Our community is suffering.
This year the allocations committee also discussed a number of issues including how we define Jewish education; how we determine the amount available for allocations; the relationship between Federation and the beneficiaries and at a very fundamental level, even what and how we should be funding. All of these conversations are on-going. In the coming year, the committee will continue to discuss these issues with the goal of making our process and mandate, and consequently Jewish Hamilton, even stronger.