Action Memo #1: How Your Congregation Can Respond to Difficult Financial Times
Five ideas to consider to help cut expenses, and suggestions for thinking about your congregation fundraising efforts.
Do less business and do more
Torah Pirke Avot
Let your friends property be
as dear to you as your own. Pirke Avot
Ensure that any financial
decision is connected to maintaining the mission and fulfilling the vision of
Remember the cyclical nature of
economic trends and consider the long term impact of short tem financial
Engage your clergy, staff,
leadership and members in the conversation about how to cut expenses without a
significant negative impact on serving
Be thoughtful about the true
impact of any financial decision on clergy, professionals and temple
Here are some suggestions
culled from congregations with the assistance of the National Association of
Temple Administrators and from the Unions Departments of
Synagogue Management and
Five Ideas to Consider to Help
Review current budget
projections. Consider postponing any non-critical repairs or maintenance items.
Ask your office manager or
Executive Director to conduct an office audit, reviewing use of office supplies
and office machine maintenance contracts.
Initiate or review an energy
audit. Consider closing the building or parts of the building one night each
week to save on energy and maintenance
Identify potential savings by
increasing the use of electronic communication and limiting temple mailings to
once or twice each month.
Review expense lines for
consumables such as coffee and paper goods. Realize savings by asking leaders
and members to share in these expenses or contribute snacks for meetings on a
rotating basis. Sometimes even small savings in many areas can have a positive
Suggestions for Thinking About
Your Congregation Fundraising Efforts
Communicate and build ownership: Openly
communicate with your significant donors as to where the congregation stands
fiscally. Dont wait until November or December to articulate the challenges but
instead assign key leadership to discuss year-end giving now.
Connect with your donors pain: Just about
everyone is feeling personally impacted by the daily news. Likewise it is easy
to understand the increased costs associated with running a caring
congregation. It always helps to remind donors of the important role the
congregation plays in helping those less fortunate and how they can make a
difference during these uncertain times.
Stay focused on the big stuff: Remember that
the economy may be in a cyclical downward turn but it is only a matter of time
before it will take an upward turn. Therefore, stay focused on the larger
congregational development plan while looking for ways to double short-term
Rethink your plans: If your congregation is
thinking of undergoing a capital campaign, it may be advisable to take the next
two months off from asking specific donors for significant gifts, but only as
part of a donor-by-donor re-assessment. Whenever possible, do not hesitate to
make the ASK!
Rethink the congregations calendar: Look at
the current calendar of congregational activities from a standpoint of what
fundraising opportunities might exist.