Chiefs groom UK Jewry’s next leaders

A review is to be carried out into the future funding of British Jewry, the Jewish Leadership Council announced this week.

The inquiry will be the first project of the JLC's new leadership network, a group of activists in their 30s and 40s who are being groomed to be the "leaders of tomorrow".

Nigel Layton, the chairman of World Jewish Relief - and the JLC member who is shepherding the network - said: "It will look at the strategic funding needs of the community for the future and there's no better group to do that than a group of individuals who are going to be actually sitting around the JLC table in 10 to 15 years' time." Ruth Green, a member of the network, explained that the idea for the review had come out of discussions among the group.

"It was an issue that got people impassioned - particularly people who are doing fundraising and find it difficult. There's frustration that we haven't got it right for the younger Jewish community; and everyone's honest to say that we don't have answers and that's being looked at."

Mr Layton, at 45 one of the youngest members of the 26-strong JLC, said that the review would take around a year to complete. "Probably, in the economic climate, it's even more apt to do it," he said.

The potential impact of the financial crisis on Jewish organisations was brought up at the council's last meeting at the end of October.

According to Gerald Ronson, who chairs the Community Security Trust, the few hundred donors who represent "the real sources of money in this community", contributing around 80 per cent of charity funds, are going to have think seriously about "digging deeper into their pockets because they are going to have to help pick up some of the shortfall".

Stephen Zimmerman, chairman of Jewish Care, said "the downturn is going to affect us all," although he believed there was "still substantial wealth" in the community. "We've got to convince the community we're leading our organisations in an effective manner," he said. "We've also got to implore them to understand the needy are going to find life more difficult."

But he added: "The good news is that we're already well-positioned as a community, having now started to work closer together, much closer over the past two or three years, in a number of projects."

The JLC's first collective enterprise was the launch of a scheme to help charities cut overheads, for example by bulk buying of telephony, utilities or other office services. Now involving 40 charities, the work is extending to other areas, such as transport, catering and insurance.

"We've implemented around half a million pounds of savings," said JLC chief executive Jeremy Newmark. "It's true that additional savings on top of that figure have been identified but not implemented. There's a variety of reasons. Sometimes organsiations are already tied into long-term contracts...Sometimes there are protracted internal governance issues inside organisations which means they can't necessarily move as quickly as one would want."

But he added that the scheme was "always more than buying cheaper paper clips", it was part of a move to "create a new atmospheric" of collaboration between community organisations.

    Last updated: 11:10am, November 13 2008