Reimagining Financial Support for Your 21st Century Congregation
Every synagogue community requires financial support to operate, and different congregations use different models to manage their finances. But, do these
models help engage congregants or are they barriers to building congregational communities?
In this community of practice participants will explore connections between congregations' financial support and members' relational investment in the
synagogue community. They'll also examine opportunities to fund synagogues as well as ways to promote low-barrier engagement within the community.
The Reimaging Financial Support for Your Congregation community of practice seeks to convene congregations that are interested in starting or significantly enhancing their efforts around these issues, but have not yet done so.
What is the URJ Reimagining Financial Support for Your Congregation Community of Practice?
The Reimagining Financial Support for Your Congregation Community of Practice will comprise 20-25 congregations that are concerned with the financial
health and future of their communities and are prepared to examine the relational model of engagement and its impact on financial support.
During the community of practice's 24-month cycle, designated representatives from each congregation will come together to:
Explore all facets of synagogue engagement, various models of financial support, and the relationship between the two within a congregation
Learn from experts in the field
Examine trends and best principles
Discuss broad challenges
Identify experiments and pilots whose rollouts in their own congregations will re-shape financial support and engagement, enhancing synagogue life
Build a network of peer support and guidance
Draft and implement an engagement initiative for their own congregation
Share measurable results within the community of practice and the larger Reform Movement, providing a foundation on which to build subsequent
initiatives to re-imagine financial support and personal engagement, as well as enrich other facets of congregational life
Coordinated by the URJ, the community of practice will require a 24-month commitment beginning in March 2013. The opportunity to continue to work together
beyond this timeframe is an option for the member congregations.
Vicky Farhi, Co-Director, Expanding Our Reach (212-650-4248, email@example.com) is the primary coordinator.
Lisa Lieberman Barzilai, Co-Director, Expanding Our Reach (212-650- 4081, firstname.lastname@example.org) is the secondary
Rabbi Dan Judson is the faculty for the community of practice.
The Reimagining Financial Support for Your Congregation Community of Practice curriculum includes five components:
Research/Study of the Field:
Monthly webinars and conference calls will enable participants to explore relevant topics, hear from experts, study best principles and explore common
Experiment Design: From Theory to Visioning:
After learning together for a few months, each member of the community of practice will craft an experiment/pilot proposal that challenges the
engagement work being done in his or her congregation. With support and guidance of other members, each member will hone the experiment's parameters to
ensure they include clear vision, goals, process and benchmarks for success.
Experiment Implementation: Getting Our Hands Dirty:
In this phase of the curriculum, members will launch the pilot in their own congregation, sharing successes and troubleshooting challenges with support
from the full community of practice.
Using the pilot's benchmarks for success, congregations will track the accomplishments of the experiment.
Community of practice congregations will have ample opportunity to share successes with the Movement-at-large, including at the 2013 URJ Biennial and
during other gatherings, as well as on webinars.
Who Should Apply?
All URJ congregations are eligible to apply for this community of practice. We recommend that your congregation also be in good financial health. They
should be willing to:
Be willing to reexamine assumptions about generating financial support
Pioneer strategies to promote low barrier engagement
Pioneer strategies to develop new ways to engage congregational members in relationship
Share successes and challenges and learn from others who do likewise
The congregation's representatives:
Should include a team of at least two people, one of whom is a member of the board of trustees
May include, but are not limited to the executive director, administrator, rabbi, president, vice president of finance, or other lay leaders
Why Should my Congregation Participate?
Transform the ways your synagogue seeks to engage individuals in the community
Strengthen members' relationships with the larger congregational community
Envision a healthier financial support model
Design and implement a new initiative that pushes the boundaries of previous engagement strategies while also promoting greater financial stability and
Your efforts will be highlighted extensively throughout the Reform Movement, enabling other congregations to learn from your efforts
Gain knowledge to ensure that your congregation's financial support model is not a barrier to engaging congregants in the synagogue community
Strengthen your professional networks
Successfully create and implement a model of financial support designed specifically for your own congregation, receiving support and guidance
throughout from other members of the community of practice
Emerge with a valuable toolkit to use to revitalize engagement within your congregation
What are the Resources Needed to Participate?
All individual participants will be required to attend two separate in-person gatherings:
Community of Practice Launch Gathering, March 8-10, 2013, Location: Chicago, IL
Community of Practice Culmination Gathering, Winter, 2015, Location: TBD
Participating congregations should cover the costs associated with sending participants to these gatherings. If this arrangement is not feasible,
individual participants may cover these costs, but it is preferable for the congregations to do so.
Participating congregations are strongly encouraged to send at least one (but perfereably more) representagtive to the URJ Biennial in San Diego from
December 11-15, 2013. During this convention, experiments and pilot initiatives will be highlighted for the greater Movement and there will be
opportunities for community of practice group learning as well.
Implementing Your Experiment/Pilot
Congregations must have adequate financial resources available and allocated to implement the experiment/pilot that will be developed through participation
in the community of practice.
Congregations must designate lay and/or professional lay leaders who will not only participate actively in the community of practice, but also spearhead
the congregation's effort to successfully implement an appropriate pilot initiative.