Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

One plus one equals one united front


A combined JCC and Federation? It isn’t a new idea. Tampa’s Jewish Community Center and Federation merged 20 years ago. It’s also happened in Austin, Texas and up in Connecticutt and in more than 25 other communities across the United States.

Now it is a topic that is being tossed around in the Orlando Jewish community. Nothing is concrete, it is only talk at this time. But with the changing economy and similar mission statements, it makes a lot of sense.

Wondering how the merge between Tampa’s JCC and Federation has worked, I spoke with Emilie Socash, the Tampa Federation director of external relations. She was happy to share how things have been going for them. And that answer is EXCELLENT.

“It was just common sense. Why have two boards with overlapping missions?” Emilie said.

The results included a lot of savings over time. The merge streamlined everything.

“We saw an immediate spike in fundraising,” Socash said, “because of the united front.”

Fundraising is the major role of all federations. They don’t have visible programs, tangible things that people get involved in. That’s the JCC’s department (and any other agencies helping meet the Jewish community’s needs). With the merge, the JCC no longer has to focus on fundraising to meet their needs. They focus on the programs that bring the community together and leave the fundraising to the federation.

“The JCC is touching lives,” Socash told me. “The preschool has 360 children enrolled and each child has four grandparents. We have a lively senior’s program.”

Here in Orlando, our Richard S. Adler Early Childhood Center has a similar amount of children attending. In fact, the two communities are similar in size as well. Tampa has about 7,000 affiliated families.

“Donors appreciate that their dollars—their investments—aren’t going to two different organizations, but into one pot,” Socash explained.

Another benefit is that the organization operates under one calendar for both agencies. There is no competition for fundraisers.

What’s the nitty-gritty? How does it operate? All the facility management needs are in one accounting system. The building maintenance, the IT systems, the employees—all in one.

Hmmm... Orlando’s Federation and JCC already share the IT systems and both are housed in the same building.

There was some consolidation of positions when the Tampa plan first went into effect. There is one CEO of the JCC and Federation. That person is Gary Gould. The JCC does have an executive director who reports to Gould, as do all the other positions in the merged organization. There is only one board of directors as well—a combination of federation board members, JCC board members and community supporters.

Because of the spike they saw in fundraising, the Tampa Federation is able to allocate funds to its other beneficiaries in the community, as well as meet their required funds for national and international causes.

“To sum it up, we compliment each other. We have one entity that knows its donors better; we operate efficiently; we removed the competition for dollars; and we can find what the community really wants and provide for them.”

This merge has worked for Tampa’s Federation and JCC for 20 years. I wonder if this would work for Orlando?


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