Beth Hillel Temple Member Community Commitment
Frequently Asked Questions
The Member Community Commitment is a Great Success.
The First Year of the Member Community Commitment has been a Great Success.
Two years ago, the leadership of the congregation came to you, the members, with a proposal for a new approach to annual member support for Beth Hillel Temple. Instead of outlining a set amount for dues, we told you what the Temple needed and asked each of you to be stakeholders in support of the community as a whole. We concluded it was time for Beth Hillel Temple to adopt a more progressive “Member Community Commitment” program. Past membership dues levels were communicated to each of you, and how that compared to what an apportioned cost of annual operation was. This information was intended to guide members to confirm the level of support they were best able to provide to our community.
Our intent was that this cooperative process better aligned with Beth Hillel Temple’s values and reinforced our goals to be inclusive and welcoming to all regardless of financial means. Importantly, the system was meant to reinforce each member’s understanding of their individual role in sustaining our Jewish community and ensure Beth Hillel Temple has the funds required to sustain high quality programming and education for all ages, maintain our building, and afford our highly experienced full time Rabbi. The members were informed that the sustaining level of $2500 was the amount of money needed per member unit this year to meet the congregation’s total expenses.
The Member Community Commitment is a success!
For the 2016-17 Fiscal Year,:
Members have donated the amount budgeted for annual member support.
New members have commented that they appreciate the low pressure approach of being given the chance to determine the level at which they will support the congregation. Established members have commented that this approach allows for a more positive sense of engagement with the Temple.
It is essential that every member affirm their continued membership and stake in the congregation by completing their pledge. Thank you all for being a stakeholder in this congregation we all hold dear.
How was the sustaining amount determined? The sustaining amount was calculated by determining the Temple’s total annual operating expenses and dividing that amount equally between the member families. It’s important to note that income from Member Community Commitment pledges has only covered about half of our expenses in the past – other sources which cover our shortfall include earnings from our endowment and other past fundraising efforts. This is why the sustaining amount is substantially higher than the amount we’ve requested for dues previously. While the endowment continues to provide significant support to the congregation, other fundraising sources are being depleted to support operating expenses without being replenished. At the same time we need to build reserves for larger needed repairs such as were recently needed for the boiler.
We happen to be an unusual small congregation in that we have chosen to work hard to maintain a full time Rabbi, a building of our own, and a robust education for our children. These factors have led to the caring community we cherish. The pledges committed help pay for all of this and ultimately determines the level of programming and staff we can have.
Do I need to talk to someone if I’m unable to pledge the sustaining amount? NO. All you need to do is complete the pledge form and send it in on time. No explanations are needed.
What defines a member? For statistical purposes, the congregation reports its membership in terms of “member units”. A member unit is a household comprised of an individual or a family, which includes at least one Jewish person. We no longer establish different requirements or guidelines for annual support for individuals and family member units as we did in the past.
The requirements for membership in Beth Hillel Temple include all of these:
- Being Jewish or a having an immediate family member who is Jewish.
- Wanting to be a member as evidenced by applying for membership
- Having a current commitment in place
The leadership of the congregation hopes that every member will participate in the three aspects of the congregation’s life, Torah – study, Avodah – prayer and G’milut Hasadim/Tikkun Olam – acts of caring and repair of the world.
Is my pledge amount confidential? YES. It will be known only to those with a specific need to know. The office staff will enter your information in our billing system. The bookkeeper oversees the process and summarizes pledge figures for budgeting. Individual information will not be shared beyond the office staff and Member Community Commitment team.
Will I be recognized for my commitment? YES. Members who commit to more than the sustaining level and those who increase their commitment from the prior year will be thanked. Names will be listed without pledge amounts. There will be a check box on the pledge form providing the option to forgo public recognition.
What happens if I do not return the pledge form or fall behind on payments?
It is critical that all members return their forms and that they do so promptly to maintain the viability of this approach to member support. We would like to avoid diverting office and volunteer time sending out reminders notices or calling. If, as the fiscal year progresses, you are unable to fulfill your pledge, or require a change in payment plans, please contact the office assistant, Lili Rivas, so that invoicing can be adjusted.
What are my payment options? It is preferable that pledges are paid when you send in the pledge form, as this reduces the costs of mailing out invoices and allows for better cash flow. However, you may also pay quarterly or monthly. Payments are due the 1st of the month beginning July 1 when you send in your pledge form. Quarterly Payments are due July 15, Oct 1, Jan 1, and April 1. You may pay by check, Electronic Funds Transfer from your bank, or with a Credit Card. Instructions can be found on your pledge form, which will be mailed in June.
Will there be a separate Capital Improvement Fund (CIF)? There is no longer a separate Capital Improvement Fund (CIF) as in the past. Maintenance items, which were funded through this mechanism in the past, will now be funded out of general operating funds. This decision was reflected in determining the sustaining amount already described. It should be noted that the CIF has not kept pace with our maintenance needs. Recent capital items such as repair of the boiler and the new carpet in the school wing were funded from additional donations.
How will school tuition and other programming fees be handled? Religious school and programming are funded through the fees charged. These will be invoiced separately to participating members. Please know that we want every child to receive a strong Jewish education and every member of our community to participate in events. Scholarships are available to ensure everyone can attend. Please contact the religious school administrator or the Rabbi to learn more.
Does the Temple still need donations? YES. Donations from members and non-members are a critical portion of Temple funding. You are encouraged to take advantage of the many opportunities to make a donation in the honor of someone or as a memorial. Additionally, please support fundraising that enables and enhances programming. The annual member community commitment does not cover larger capital needs. Special campaigns may be required from time to time to enable investment in the building and endowments.
What if I still have questions after I read this letter and receive my pledge form? If you do have questions, please feel free to contact:
Alice Thomson – firstname.lastname@example.org or 262-637-0985