Building a Culture of Philanthropy

Raising money is a fact of congregational life, but many congregations are finding that the tried and true practices that worked for generations no longer resonate with today’s synagogue members. What are the best principles of development for relevant and innovative congregations? How can you transform your transactional fundraising into a relationship-based culture of philanthropy?

The URJ, in collaboration with Rabbi Louis Feldstein, founder and CEO of Dynamic Change Solutions, created materials and resources designed to help your congregation embrace a culture of philanthropy. These materials draw from best principles of development from across the non-profit world. 

Online Course

This is an excellent way for a group of congregational leaders to learn the foundations of Creating a Culture of Philanthropy together and create a shared language. It's also a terrific opportunity for individual participants to learn about philanthropy in a congregation. Either way, it is a fantastic experience. Learning Modules include:

  • Introduction to Culture of Philanthropy
  • Philanthropic Relationships
  • Congregational Leadership in Philanthropy
  • Annual Giving
  • Planned Giving
  • Storytelling
  • Appreciation

Please complete this expression of interest form and we will contact you when the course opens.

Online Workshop

A URJ Leadership Workshop is a 2 to 3 hour focused workshop taking place via the Zoom online platform and tailored to your congregation’s individual needs and interests.

As a benefit of your URJ membership, this workshop is led by URJ-trained lay leaders or staff, who will work with your congregation’s leadership to craft and facilitate a dynamic and interactive session for your congregational board and/or specific leadership group.

During a URJ Leadership Workshop, participants discuss ideas, strategize, and plan for the future of the congregation. Following the workshop, the congregation will receive support from the URJ as it proceeds to the next steps.

We have crafted a number of workshops around Creating a Culture of Philanthropy including workshops around the following themes:

  • Creating a Culture of Philanthropy in our congregation
  • Who Does What? Roles and responsibilities of leaders in a Culture of Philanthropy
  • Storytelling and the importance of a great narrative
  • Mastering “the ask”
  • Planned giving and endowments

For more information on having a Culture of Philanthropy Workshop at your congregation, contact Gila Hadani Ward or

Pre-recorded Videos

This series provides congregational leaders with webinar recordings and presentation materials that help shift the focus from a culture of fundraising to a culture of philanthropy. 

  1. Philanthropic Partnerships: Learn how philanthropy plays a key role in a congregation’s relational engagement strategy and how to move donors through the recruitment-engagement-retention process. This session includes best principles for appreciation and acknowledgment of donors. Listen to the recording in The Tent.
  2. Volunteer Engagement: Learn what role the board should play, how to overcome reticence, how to train volunteers to “make the ask,” and how to track and effectively use giving-related data. Listen to the recording in The Tent.
  3. Planned Giving: This session delineates the major steps of endowment and legacy campaigns. It is designed for leaders of congregations that have not yet started a campaign, have just started a campaign, or are struggling to move past launch. Listen to the recording in The Tent.
  4. Raising Annual Funds: This session looks at dues, events, and general and special campaigns as mission-driven opportunities for engagement. Listen to the recording in The Tent.
  5. Review and Reflection: This session provides a brief overview of the core principles introduced in the previous four sessions in this series, and offers tips for making the most of your philanthropic perspective. Listen to the recording in The Tent.

An additional session in this series is offered especially for members of small congregations:

Special Session for Small Congregations: This session offers best principles for volunteer-driven philanthropy and frames the learning from the first four sessions for the particular needs of congregations with 150 or fewer member units. Listen to the recording in The Tent.