Suggested guidelines for what is acceptable and what's not... and why.
Many congregations have asked the Union for Reform Judaism about ways they might raise revenue through their websites. While we understand that congregations are always looking for ways to supplement income raised from dues, the Union strongly recommends against advertising on congregational websites, with a few exceptions, for the following reasons:
Advertising distracts from your message. Remember that your congregation is very different from a store or other commercial site. You arent selling shoes, or cars, or boats or computers. What you are selling is a spiritual community, where your members and visitors can feel at home and connect to God. You therefore want your site to look distinctly different from commercial sites. Ads on your site will blur the distinction.
You wont make a lot of money. Since most online advertising revenue is on a per-click basis, you would have to have thousands of people clicking on a single ad each month to even begin to show any significant revenue. Are those pennies worth compromising the integrity of your site?
Unrelated business income. As a synagogue, you are not required to file tax returns. Advertising, however, might raise questions about your tax exempt status.
That said, there are some ways to have ads on your site that the Union believes are acceptable and can be a service to your members.
Associate and affiliate programs related to your content Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers will pay you a small percentage of sales generated by clicks from your site. So if you have a book group, you might feature the Amazon graphic near the book that encourages your members to buy the book from Amazon.
Sponsors and bulletin advertisers As a way of showing appreciation to the advertisers in and sponsors of your bulletin and/or journal, you may want to create a separate page on your website for them. This page would have either a listing with links to their websites, or small graphics (under 150 pixels in width or height) that link to them. The page could be in the about us section of your website.
Goodsearch (Powered by Yahoo!) GoodSearch is a search engine which donates 50-percent of its revenue to the charities and schools designated by its users. Submit your congregation's site for inclusion in this unique service, then add their search box to your site.
Use an Advertising Disclaimer It is important to note that you do not have any responsibility for the content of websites that are not under your control and that you do not are not endorsing any of your advertisers. A sample policy statement might be:
Congregation ABC does not endorse any of the sites or services that may be referenced or linked to on this site and is not responsible or liable for the content of such sites.