April 2015

Important Change Afoot – A New Approach for Annual Member Support for Beth Hillel Temple

For many years Beth Hillel Temple has used a dues program where each member was asked to pay a certain fixed amount.  Members were solicited to add money to that fixed amount if they were able, or if the fixed amount did not fit into their particular budget the members would work out a dues payment plan with the Mensch Committee.

This overall process was last updated some 15 years ago. Many of us in the congregation’s leadership felt it was time to take a fresh look at dues and how that process influences perception of our community. In the fall of 2014, a team was formed to review our current approach to annual member support. The team reviewed our dues system, gained a deeper understanding of our membership, and learned about alternative systems from other congregations
that had initiated changes to their process.

Recent studies of synagogue finances have shown that the fixed dues amount model is dated in light of shifting demographics and evolving changes in relationships that Jewish members have with their synagogues. Congregations are finding success with a system based on individuals as stakeholders in support of the community as a whole. We concluded that it is time for Beth Hillel Temple to adopt a more progressive “Member Community Commitment” program. Simply put, Beth Hillel will communicate a member unit’s past membership dues level, and how that compares to what an apportioned cost of annual operation is. We believe this increased transparency will allow members to confirm the level of support they are best able to provide to our community. Rather than being unilaterally invoiced for a flat dues amount, members will be asked to affirm their personal “Member Community Commitment”. We expect most families will support us at or slightly above their past levels.

We believe this cooperative process better aligns with Beth Hillel Temple’s values and reinforces our goals to be inclusive and welcoming to all regardless of financial means. This new approach is intended to enhance the sense of engagement of our members by changing the conversation from dues and money to relationships within the congregation. Importantly, the system will reinforce each member’s understanding of their individual role in sustaining our Jewish community and in ensuring Beth Hillel Temple has the funds required to sustain high quality programming, a vibrant religious school, maintain our building, and afford our highly experienced
full time Rabbi.

Early in June, members will be sent a request to make their “Member Community Commitment”. All that is required is to simply complete and return to the temple the pledge form indicating the annual pledge amount and payment preferences. The temple will record the pledge and send payment reminders quarterly if needed. There will be several upcoming communications as well as opportunities to learn more about how the new system will work and to provide guidance on determining the amount of annual “Member Community Commitment” that is right for you.

Please consider joining me and members of our leadership on Wed., May 13 at 6:30 pm and/or Sun., May 17 at 10:45am to discuss this new approach as well as answer any questions you may have.

Todah Rabah (Thank you) to the team for their work to develop this new approach.

We look forward to your support of this exciting change formally presented to our congregation at the Annual Meeting on June 12.