8 Helpful Communications Tools Included in Your Congregation’s URJ Membership

Inside Leadership

8 Helpful Communications Tools Included in Your Congregation’s URJ Membership

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In our digital world, your congregation’s online presence is your window to the world. With 69 percent of the U.S. public and an even higher percentage in Canada using social media (and with individuals increasingly relying on online searches to help them make decisions), your congregation’s digital profile is key to introducing new people to your institution and to engaging existing members.

As you plan your communications for the coming year, make sure you take advantage of these resources that are available to your URJ member congregation.

1. A free congregational website

Join nearly 300 congregations that develop and maintain a professional website for free, as a benefit of URJ membership. With RJ Web Builder, your congregation can create a unique, exciting, and engaging online presence – all designed for back-end users who have little or no technical knowledge.

Each website allows for significant customization and includes content tailored for Reform congregations. The platform offers simple management, modern designs, and made-to-order features such as donation and registration forms, an events calendar, a podcasting solution, and a members-only section.

Instead of relying on a web designer who will someday retire or a congregational volunteer who might move away, this DIY system is maintained, hosted, and updated by URJ staff, providing consistency for your congregation and filling in where local resources aren’t available.

2. Shareable content for your website and social media pages

If your website is hosted through RJ Web Builder, it will automatically feature free pre-loaded content about Reform Jewish life from ReformJudaism.org’s blog, created by the URJ – and even if your website is self-hosted, you can tap into the great content on ReformJudaism.org, highlighting Jewish holidays, Jewish life, Jewish practice, and more for you to share.

To further engage with your audience and tap into the broader Reform network, you can also share or retweet social media content posted to ReformJudaism.org’s social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

3. Co-branded newsletters

Emails sent from ReformJudaism.org highlight new ideas for enriching your members’ Jewish lives – and they can be sent with your congregation’s logo for streamlined branding. When you sign up for co-branded emails, your members can receive ReformJudaism.org’s newsletters –  including Ten Minutes of Torah, holiday guides, our weekly round-up email, and our monthly foodie newsletter – all co-branded with your synagogue's logo, links, and leadership information.

4. Customizable online and print ads

Visit the Communications group in The Tent to download customizable flyers and bulletin-ready ads to promote congregational membership, upcoming holiday events, religious school dates, worship services, and more. We also offer holiday-themed social media banners (some of which can be customized with your congregation’s logo), as well as static, print-ready newsletter banners and website ads.

5. Listing on URJ.org and ReformJudaism.org

Did you know that your congregation’s information is listed in our Congregational Directory on ReformJudaism.org? With more than 3 million users visiting our website every year, it’s easier than ever for local seekers to find your congregation.

Make sure your leadership information is up to date – or submit any necessary revisions through the URJ Congregations Portal – so those viewing your congregation’s listing can identify your current president, rabbi, and senior leaders. Additionally, any of your congregational events that are open to the public – think Purim carnivals, Tot Shabbat events, and High Holiday services – can be submitted for inclusion on ReformJudaism.org’s event calendar.

6. Social media guides

If you see the value of a congregational social media presence but aren’t sure where to start – or if you just want to take your social media engagement to the next level – check out our congregational social media guide, or watch the recordings of our social media 101 or social media 201 webinars.

7. Discounted streaming and video conferencing services

In addition to promoting your congregation’s online presence, digital tools could help you engage and reach members beyond your synagogue walls. Through StreamSpot, stream your services for a discounted price and better reach members of your community who cannot attend due to difficulty or distance.

Your congregation is also eligible for discounted pricing for Zoom for your online meeting needs – perfect for religious school educators who want to offer virtual tutoring to b’nei mitzvah students, for boards that struggle to find the convenient time and place to meet in-person, and so much more.

8. Yammer networks

The URJ offers congregations the ability to create private networks on Yammer, an internal communications and collaboration platform available to their staff, board, or any combination of committees.

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With the ever-evolving nature of digital communications, stay informed about social media trends, ask your questions about handling photo releases in your early childhood education center, and access a myriad of resources in the Communications group in The Tent.

Your congregational communications staff and volunteers can also stay abreast of tools, resources, and news from the URJ and Reform Movement by subscribing to the URJ’s monthly Bulletin Bytes newsletter, designed for congregational bulletin and newsletter editors.

Amy Asin is the vice president for Strengthening Congregations at the Union for Reform Judaism. Deborah Goldberg is the director of communications at the Union for Reform Judaism.

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