2019 CHIEF EXECUTIVE’S STRATEGY PLAN (Feb 2019)
1. The aim of this Strategy Plan is to inform staff, volunteers and members as to the general direction I would like to take AJEX from 2019 onwards.
2. 2019 will likely see lots of changes at AJEX and it promises to be a very busy year. We’re already planning the annual event in Paris, the service at the National Memorial Arboretum, an Israel trip and of course the jewel in our crown, the Annual Remembrance Ceremony & Parade. We are also starting to look at planning a major event at Bergen Belsen in May 2020. We will be employing a Remembrance Officer, starting a new education programme, launching various fundraising, membership and volunteer initiatives, and on top of all this we may move to new premises. Restructuring the Association continues apace; shifting from a Presidential system to one with multiple Patrons and absorbing the Jewish Military Museum (JMM) into AJEX. At the 2019 AGM we will vote for a new National Chairman as Colonel Martin Newman’s two-year tenure will be over.
3. My key message to all is to remain flexible and positive throughout 2019 and beyond.
4. My intent is to reorganise the charity in terms of structure, location and financing. In addition, we must significantly improve educational output, youth engagement, fundraising yield and membership levels. These changes are necessary in order to ensure AJEX remains relevant, financially viable and able to deliver on our three pillars of Remembrance, Welfare and Education long into the future.
5. I want AJEX to work ever more closely with our British Jewish Military partners bringing our organisations closer together and continuing the great work started by our National Chairman. Our Jewish serving and veteran community is small, so combining our organisational efforts will make us greater than the sum of our parts. I would like AJEX to provide a physical space to support our Jewish military organisations and in turn exploit cross-working opportunities and find synergies. The new office needs to be able to physically house AJEX, the Armed Forces Jewish Community (AFJC), the Joint Committee of HM Forces (the endorsing authority for our Jewish Clergy and head of the Serving Jewish personnel), the Friends of the Armed forces Jewish Community and our uniformed clergy. This will be a challenge, but the payoff could be significant. AJEX can also do much more to support our serving soldiers, sailors and airmen. We can support and establish Cadet Forces and assist with recruiting to the armed forces in general from across the Jewish community.
Chief Executive’s Priorities:
a. Build and release a new AJEX Website (achieved April 19)
b. Employ a Remembrance Officer & Administrator (achieved Apr 19)
c. Deliver an inter-faith education programme. Bring more students to the annual Parade year on year
d. Finalise and sign a new contract between JMM and JM
e. Launch a Legacy and national fundraising programme
f. Launch a membership drive
g. Identify and secure AJEX Patrons (with an aspiration that 50%, in time, should be female)
h. Move office and establish a Jewish Military hub (AJEX, AFJC, JCHMF, Friends and Clergy)
i. Change the time and location of the Reunion Reception to before the Annual Parade (achieved Mar 19 now lunch at ICE)
j. Build a new team of volunteers (enhancing the existing team) to further support the office and events across the country
FUND RAISING & FINANCE
6. Our Education Officer Paula Kitching will deliver an educational programme across numerous schools designed to inform people as to the vital historical and current contribution of Anglo-Jewish military service. She will spread the AJEX message across schools and communities (Remembrance, Welfare & Education), recruit a new pool of volunteers and ensure AJEX remains a Jewish household name for many years to come. Her efforts will also deliver a new generation of AJEX supporter.
7. Our Welfare Officer Colin Shieff has been in post for almost a year and has done an excellent job building on his predecessor’s achievements. However, we can always do more. Colin is looking into innovative ways to further support our veterans and their dependents. We need improve our ability to identify veterans and/or dependents in need. It isn’t sufficient to wait for people to ask for help, many people are either too proud or are unaware we are here to help them.
8. In 2018 the AJEX constitution was amended to include the provision of welfare to our serving soldiers, sailor and airmen as well as veterans and dependents. To support this aspiration and commitment we must align ourselves very closely with our Jewish Padres and the AFJC. This will become increasingly possible if we create the Jewish Military Hub.
9. Colin is working hard to identify charity partnerships and opportunities to better deliver appropriate welfare support. He is currently working up a program with the potential to fully fund a dedicated welfare case-worker who would work solely for our Jewish veteran community. This person could assist veterans in combatting loneliness, a problem many in our society are encountering on a frequent basis. I want Colin to establish a loneliness action group to see what support AJEX can offer those affected. If successful, we could direct the welfare case-worker or new volunteers to engage with those who need company and friendship.
10. From 2019 the AJEX Annual Remembrance Ceremony & Parade is likely to see some changes. Firstly, I would like to move the afternoon reunion reception to a lunch before the Parade – this means we can still engage and host high profile dignitaries such as the Chief Rabbi, our new Patrons and the Reviewing Officer but shorten the day, make it more accessible and inclusive for a younger audience.
11. Legacies. In March I will be launching a new legacy campaign. This will take the form of printed leaflets and a mentoring support team for those people who express an interest. AJEX’s income is predominantly from legacies, and these are the most important part of our funding plans going forward.
12. Membership. A new membership drive is soon to commence. This will be led by the Stanmore Group of volunteers who will look to rally support from across synagogues and community groups in north west London. We have new membership sign-up forms, neck ties, Kippot, lapel pins and the Menorah magazine. This will mean we have a fully re-branded membership pack which both new and existing members can be very proud of. This we will be selling to new and existing members.
13. Other Fundraising. Our 100@£1000 campaign is being run externally. The project lead is seeking 100 people to pledge £1000 each. New AJEX generic pledge cards are currently being designed and I am soon to engage with various Trust Funds and organisations which I believe may wish to support us throughout our transition.
14. AJEX is delighted to have secured Mike Bluestone as the new head of fundraising. Mike is an ex-serviceman, a very successful businessman and is heavily involved with the Armed Forces Jewish Community. He has a wealth of experience in fund raising. Please give him your full support.
15. AJEX is delighted to have secured a new Treasurer; the existing Treasurer is moving into the role of deputy-Treasurer after many years of excellent service.
16. I see moving office as key to the future of AJEX. I firmly believe we should be in close proximity to our collection of over 7500 artefacts, currently at the Jewish Museum in Camden.
17. AJEX’s Honorary solicitor has commenced work on a new contract between the JMM and the JM. As it stands AJEX’s Executive and the Trustees have unanimously agreed to pursue a future alongside the JM. To that end all AJEX staff, members and supporters should support the JM as their success directly affects the longevity of our JMM collection being proudly on display.
18. The long-term sustainability of our Branch structure is a concern. Over the next few years it is likely more of our branches will close and be amalgamated into our ‘Central Branch’. This will only be done upon specific request from branches. All closures will be dealt with by our Branches Officer. Local Branch funds can be ring-fenced for spending on specific regional activities or for welfare. Each branch closure will be dealt with on a case by case basis and in a sensitive manner – At Head Officer we respect the independence of our Branch system. We must all ensure AJEX survives and continues its raison d’être as stated in our constitution.
19. We need to continuously examine how we achieve the best possible effect across our three pillars (Remembrance, Education and Welfare). We’re no longer a charity with 7000+ members who can attend events in significant numbers or plan events independent of Head Office. We are a small team trying to deliver across many events with insufficient resources and too few volunteers. We have to make some tough calls on what we’re going to have to give up. It is hoped a new generation of volunteers will take us forward and show a presence at events. I am extremely grateful for the energy and selfless commitment shown by many of our volunteers who regularly organise and attend events. Without the selfless-commitment and dedication shown by many of our volunteers, AJEX would be unable to function.
Major D M Yank RA