It was a marathon effort to produce the first-ever consolidated Annual Report and Impact Statement for the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco. This is a great leap forward in transparency for this 100-year-old institution, and the process of getting here was a long and winding road.
The Endowment and Federation planning and grantmaking processes were disconnected from one another. There was no central database that shows all the grants in one place, nor was all of the relevant information available digitally – some key data were only accessible via 3-ring binders, in paper files, and on individual hard drives. Since some grants are made by specific individual funds, there isn’t even a consolidated area for reviewing all of the Endowment fund grants.
The idea of tracking results and truly gauging impact is a new one, and the Federation is still in the initial stages of managing by impact, so the project required poring over each and every individual grant to see what the agency accomplished.
It also required coming up with new language and terminology so that grants, grantees, and impact could all be categorized and referred to in a clear and consistent manner. It required re-categorization of the grants into specific functional impact areas (areas of priority needs). Politics played a very big part in all of this, and to successfully complete this project meant multiple meetings with a variety of leaders and constituents to capture their input, comments and concerns while remaining true to the mission of full disclosure and transparency. I felt it was owed to the almost 10,000 individual donors to really come up front with the sources and uses of community funds entrusted to the Federation and Endowment leadership, and this document does so in a way that honors and holds consistent with the philanthropic intentions of the donors.
In the end, it is a tremendous achievement. For the first time, a donor can see how the money given is being used. It dispelled years of myths about the Federation and Endowment funds, and the costs to run this sprawling enterprise with 100 years of rich history behind it. We published not only the consolidated report you see here, but also, for the first time, a complete listing of each and every grant in the supplemental grants listing booklet. See for yourself how the Federation community sent $154,000,000 for good works around the world, and learn all the details about what it takes to operate the Federation and its Endowment Fund.
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