Individual residents are being asked to tell the Jewish Community Federation exactly what they need.
As part of a new program, the S.F.-based federation is exploring gaps and lapses in the services that community-based organizations are currently offering to ordinary citizens.
"We want to find out what people feel…the federation should address through its financial and human resources," said Susan Folkman, chair of JCF's planning and allocations committee.
She added that the committee, which launched the priority-setting project earlier this year, wants to determine which services and issues community members feel "are most important."
"This process is a component of a larger effort at JCF to develop a vision of our role over the next several years," said the federation's president, Doug Heller.
"It's important that donors are kept informed about current and emerging needs," he added, "and [that they] participate in making decisions."
As part of the project, local organizations and synagogues are being surveyed regarding the services they offer. Participants are being asked, among other questions, to list their major service program areas and those areas where needs have gone unmet.
The JCF, meanwhile, wants individuals to contact the JCF with their comments in writing.
Responses from organizations and individuals will be analyzed this spring. The findings will impact plans and allocations set to take effect as of July 1997, Heller said.
Folkman, a behavioral scientist at UCSF Medical Center, is also a past president of both the Bureau of Jewish Education and Peninsula Temple Beth El.
"There is little doubt that the community will continue to embrace a wide portfolio of causes," she said, noting that determining how to fill the needs, once they have been identified, will be a difficult task.
When demands begin to exceed resources, she added, "it's wrenching to say, `This set of needs is more important than that set.' But we will have to do it."
The JCF invites readers to contribute their ideas regarding service priorities. Contact Susan Folkman, c/o JCF, 121 Steuart Street, S.F., CA 94105.