Fund-raising groups push merger

NEW YORK — A plan to merge the central American Jewish fund-raising organizations is being honed on the heels of last week's quarterly meeting of the Council of Jewish Federations in Detroit.

The proposal calls for fusing the CJF, the United Jewish Appeal and the United Israel Appeal, agencies that oversee a national $725 million annual campaign for local American Jewish needs and for humanitarian projects in Israel and elsewhere overseas.

Discussion in Detroit focused on the thorniest problems the plan poses, said Joel Tauber, UJA president and co-chairman of the committee formed to study restructuring the national agencies.

Problems include finding a formula to ensure that enough funding will flow to overseas projects at a time when federal cuts are poised to eviscerate local programs funded by federations. Also at issue is the governance structure and how to ensure a balance between advocates of local programs and those representing overseas interests.

Subcommittees in these areas are continuing their work, while two new subcommittees are being formed: one to devise ways to increase the overall campaign and one to make the new organization's administration more efficient, Tauber said.

The merger proposal was drafted by the Committee to Study the National Structure, under the auspices of the CJF and UJA. The committee is scheduled to renew discussion on the plan Oct. 19 in New York.

Sometime afterward, the plan is expected to be presented to federations across the country. Ultimately, it will have to be approved by the boards of the CJF, UJA, UIA and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, also known as the JDC, which supports humanitarian projects abroad. The CJF is the association of Jewish community federations, which raise money in concert with the UJA.

Federations now decide how much money to keep at home and how much to allocate for overseas. That allocation is given to the UJA, which divides the money between the UIA and JDC, which co-own UJA.