More inspirational Humans of JCA

Two very different things happened this week which really brought home the benefits and strengths of having a vibrant,secure and sustainable community. Two more things, that just because you didn’t hear about them, doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. And both of them were ultimately about remarkable Humans of JCA – in these cases, our most dedicated volunteers, and a most inspiring donor.

In the first instance, last week saw the inaugural JCA-AICD training course in Foundations of Not for Profit Governance. Now governance isn’t sexy, and it certainly isn’t funny (sorry to those who read @jcatoday for a chuckle), but it is so very important to JCA’s mission – particularly when it comes to the sustainability part of our mantra. Not for Profits like JCA, and our Constituents, are often asked about our administration costs as if this is the only measure of our effectiveness. And while every donor dollar is wisely spent, life is more complicated than any one ratio, and even the ACNC advises us that it is important:

to pay attention to other factors of nonprofit performance: transparency, governance, leadership, and impact as well as costs.

Following on the enormous success of JCA’s Observership Program, a number of communal organisations (not just JCA Constituents) approached us and said that training and education should not be limited to those under 40. And last year the Allocations Committee set aside some funding for training and development of our lay leaders.

So last week saw 25 such volunteer leaders give up their scarce spare time to learn together about transparency, governance, leadership and impact. The feedback we have received has been overwhelming. Even those more experienced board directors and professionals found the collective, collaborative, experience rewarding. A huge thanks as always to JewishCare for hosting this course. And also JCA’s Jenni Bonert who pulled it all together.

In terms of inspiring donors, we are of course privileged to have thousands of them, including hopefully this year, you. And to single out anybody in particular is always difficult. But sometimes there are stories we all need to hear. Last year you will recall, we launched our campaign with one of those remarkable gifts (and if its been a while it is worth revisiting Mervyn Basserabie’s youtube sensation).

Our campaign will be formally launched after the Board of Governors’ meeting on Monday evening. We were scratching our heads to imagine what to say this year following Mervyn’s big announcement. And then last week a letter arrived, saying:

The enclosed donation is for the year  … Unfortuntely I am now housebound with  terminal Leukaemia, and this will be a final donation. JCA is a very fine organisation, a model VIC should copy!

The letter was accompanied by a cheque for $50,000 (50 times the donor’s annual contribution). When we rang to thank this long term donor for this incredibly generous gift, and invite him to our launch, he declined politely and said, “I’m sorry I can’t be there, I’m in really lousy health and housebound with limitations”. It is hard to comprehend how someone in such difficulty, and facing very directly their own mortality takes the time to think of all of us. While he asked to remain anonymous he was happy for us to share his message:

Thank you for your kind note by email concerning my donation, which is one of a number I had prepared for in my will. I selected JCA and the Sydney Jewish Museum for this financial year, so it is a bit more useful than a donation from a will. I hope you encourage others to take advantages of the tax benefits in their final years.I always enjoy reading the JCA Source Magazine, which shows what a sterling organisation it is, and the many tasks it finances.

We will be hand delivering a copy of this year’s Source Magazine to our anonymous donor next week, and thank him from all of us. You too will shortly receive a copy of Source Magazine (or at least will if you contributed to our 2015 Campaign). If you don’t and would like a copy please contact the office and we will send you one.

The message of our volunteer leaders and our anonymous donor, is that we are privileged to have, in JCA and in our community, well run and well governed institutions, which work together in a collaborative and cooperative manner, even a sterling one, with so many tasks financed. But more importantly, institutions and tasks which have real and tangible impacts on the lives of people.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our campaign events where we will feature more stories of Humans of JCA.

Shabbat Shalom,

Daniel Grynberg