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JFNA continues overhaul by hiring top fund-raiser

The Jewish Federations of North America continued the overhaul of its top professional staff by hiring the chief fund-raiser at the country’s largest Jewish federation to help rethink its financial and resource development operations.

The JFNA, which is tasked with helping the network of 157 North American Jewish federations and 400 network communities figure out how to raise money, announced Wednesday that it has hired Paul Kane as a senior adviser to CEO Jerry Silverman. Kane will be charged with driving the philanthropic strategic planning for the organization and building a vision for global fund-raising achievement and program development, as well as leading its financial resource development department, according to a statement released by the organization.

Kane, who spoke Wednesday with The Fundermentalist, has served as a top fund-raiser at the UJA-Federation of New York for the past 21 years, most recently as its senior vice president for financial resource development. He oversaw the federation’s general and capital campaigns, major gift giving and planned giving — taking in more than $200 million annually. 

He estimated that he has raised more than $3 billion in his career in New York.

Kane will serve in the newly created JFNA position for three years and help select an executive vice president for financial resource development while trying to help the federation system invigorate a national campaign that has been sagging in recent years.

The decision to leave the UJA was not easy.

“It has been 21 years. This is my life. I put my heart and soul into this place,” he said.

At the same time, Kane added, he is excited about taking a position that will allow him to look at the federation system as a whole.

“I have been in communal service all my life, working with some of the major cities such as Chicago and New York, and this is an opportunity to look at the national system and to have an impact on a global and national basis — and to try to transmit to people that this is a worthwhile profession,” he said. “I take pride in being a mentor. I think we are in challenging times. But I think it is very exciting to be able to tackle these challenging issues with [Silverman]."

In hiring Kane, the federation system’s umbrella organization is bringing in someone who can help teach the rest of the federations exactly what it means to reach out to some of the country’s most wealthy individuals in the most competitive fund-raising market in the world. 

Kane, who says he has no idea how many million-dollar gifts he has raised, preaches that building trust is the way to attract major donors.

“Listen, respect, support, be responsive, educate and partner. Follow those characteristics, and they respect you, you respect them, and you work together," Kane told The Fundermentalist. "We have done some amazing things with major donors. Their generosity is sometimes overwhelming. But you have to listen and hear what they have to say,”

Kane will start his new job at JFNA on July 1 — the same day he leaves the New York federation.

Here is the news release:

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PAUL KANE TO SERVE AS SENIOR ADVISOR TO CEO

May 26, 2010

The Jewish Federations of North America announced today the appointment of Paul M. Kane as senior advisor to the President and CEO of the organization, Jerry Silverman. 

In this newly created position, Paul will drive philanthropic strategic planning for the organization, build a vision for global fundraising achievement and program development, strengthen relationships with Jewish Federation partners and stakeholders, and lead JFNA’s Financial Resource Development department.  

He will work with the National Campaign Chair, Michael Lebovitz, and with Jerry Silverman to develop the FRD strategy for JFNA and to work closely with Federation professionals and volunteers across the movement to strengthen their fundraising capacity. 

“Paul will help us take financial resource development to the next level,” said Lebovitz. “In partnership with our communities, Paul will help the Jewish Federation movement make an even stronger collective impact on global Jewish needs.” 

Paul is a widely known Jewish communal professional, who has enjoyed a distinguished 35-year career in the Jewish Federation movement. He comes to JFNA from North America’s largest Jewish Federation in terms of campaign achievement, the UJA-Federation of New York. As Senior Vice-President of the Financial Resource Division of the New York Federation, he oversaw a community wide effort that raised billions of dollars for Jewish needs worldwide. Before joining the New York Federation, Paul worked with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago/Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, also among the largest Jewish Federations. 

Paul is also recognized as a mentor to many emerging Federation fundraisers, and has worked alongside professionals and volunteers to develop and nurture important relationships. 

“We are delighted to welcome Paul to the Jewish Federations of North America,” said Silverman. “Our Federation movement is extremely fortunate for this opportunity to benefit from Paul’s leadership in financial resource development. Paul has great insight into the challenges we face, based on years of working with and understanding our communities.” 

The senior advisory position will be in place for three years, during which Paul will help select a senior vice-president of financial resource development for JFNA, and mentor the top FRD professional to ensure a smooth transition.

John Ruskay, CEO and Executive Vice-President of UJA-Federation of New York said, “Paul Kane is an exceptional professional who has served UJA-Federation exceedingly well.  Paul will now be positioned to share his deep knowledge and experience with communities and professionals throughout North America." 

Paul said he was honored to be selected for the position and excited about becoming part of the JFNA team. 

“I look forward to this opportunity to leverage my experience in New York and elsewhere to help the Jewish Federation movement with financial resource development strategy and action.”

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