A Short Brief by Barry


President Barry Deutsch has so much to say and not always the forum to do so. Please visit his blog from time to time and see what he has to say on a variety of topics.

Other Posts
Temple Menorah President's Weekly Message
Creating A Culture of Giving

One of the hallmarks of a strong congregation is a “Culture of Giving.” We’re not quite there as a congregation yet. We have the opportunity to move into that exalted category of being a strong congregation through a “Culture of Giving,” but it’s going to require a stronger financial commitment from all our members over the next few years. How can we help Rabbi Lewis to be successful through our financial commitment to our own congregation?

Let’s start with some background on comparative financial data between reform congregations. In the last year, we participated in a national benchmarking study of reform congregations, which looked at a wide variety of operational and financial metrics. What we discovered from that study was that most strong congregations have two things going for them in their financial foundation. First, approximately 20 percent of their annual budget was from fundraising. Ours is around 5 percent. Secondly, they have an endowment fund from which approximately 10 percent of their annual budget comes from the interest on an endowment fund.

We have neither of these in place – which means we are over-reliant on membership dues and school fees to meet our financial needs. It’s one of the reasons that we have struggled a little over the past decade to meet our annual budget. There is not a congregation in this country that can survive long-term by being over-reliant on dues and fees to meet their needs.

Now that we have a new Rabbi in place who has a beautiful vision of what we can become, who is transforming the quality of our relationships, and who is strengthening our community, we owe it to her to help provide the financial foundation for future success.

As chief fundraiser for our community, over the past 6 months, I’ve had many conversations with members about giving to Temple Menorah beyond their payments for annual dues and school fees. The pushback I hear is one of “I pay enough for membership here and school fees – I shouldn’t have to contribute anything more to help this congregation.” I also hear the statement that “it’s the richer folks responsibility to give, not mine.” Finally, I hear the comment “I pay enough for the services I get from Temple Menorah. What I pay for these services is too much already.” We’ll explore each of these perceptions a little deeper in a future article.

Successful and strong congregations have a deep cultural value of philanthropy, giving, and fundraising toward their own congregation. The members recognize that the success of their community cannot be achieved by just paying dues and school fees. They are engaged, committed, and willing to make financial investments in their own community. As many of you have heard before from Rabbi Lewis, we’re willing to do this because our congregation is like a second home for our families – Temple Menorah is an integral part of our life. Our community and congregation is not just a place where you get day care services, or your child is prepared for a B’nai Mitzvah. Temple Menorah is not just another item in our long list of monthly payments like the soccer fees, dance competition payments, and wi-fi access charges. It’s a community we are all committed to proactively supporting to the best of our financial ability.

Our path of moving from “Good to Great” is one of improving our “friend-building” (like last night’s adult Purim Dinner), helping our Tuvia program continue to grow as a special jewel, re-imaging religious school education and the B’nai Mitzvah experience, injecting a love for wanting to come to Shabbat services, and bringing us together in a vibrant, engaging, loving Kehillah Kedoshah, a Sacred Community. We need to support Rabbi Lewis in this vision. It’s why we hired her in the first place. We need to give her the strong financial foundation it takes to transform a wonderful community into something truly beautiful.

Let’s reflect a little on what it might take to move from “Good to Great,” and how each of us might play a part in building that strong financial foundation that allows our Rabbi to lead us on the path of a beautiful vision for the future. I’ll end by paraphrasing a famous quote: Ask not what Temple Menorah can do for you – but what can you do to help us build a strong foundation that allows our Rabbi to guide us from “Good to Great.”