The faltering economy and shrinking funding have caused Jewish nonprofit organizations to dramatically cut back on activities and staffing. This new situation has been bringing Jewish institutions to consider how they can work together to streamline an organizational world that apparently has become too large to fund. The announcement last week that the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education was canceling its annual conference and seeking ways to provide its programming with the Jewish Educational Services of North America could indicate that more such moves are on the way.
Over the last few decades the Jewish nonprofit world has gone through a period of marked expansion, fueled by private philanthropists working on their own accord not through the centralized Jewish federation system. This development encouraged intense innovation and growth but allowed for considerable overlap. The difficult financial times are now pushing the Jewish nonprofits to examine possibilities to consolidate their activities. In the long run this may produce a more efficient and effective organizational structure.
The call for more mergers in the broader Jewish nonprofit world has recently been sounded from many quarters. At a meeting of the Jewish Funders Network held in December, 2008, which discussed dealing with the effects of the huge losses taken by nonprofits in the Bernard Madoff scandal, it proposed coming up with a list of organizations open to merger to save the community money.