In the non-profit and synagogue world, philanthropy and member engagement are the keys to success. Securing enough donations is not an easy task, especially in this challenging economy. These last few weeks of December are a crucial time for fundraising. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, more dollars are donated online in the last five days of December than in other three weeks combined. In fact, it's possible for your organization to raise as much as 40% of all donations in December by maximizing your year-end fundraising appeals.
By now, we've all heard the statistics. American Jews are intermarrying at a rate of 58% and that most intermarried Jews are not raising their kids as Jews. The Pew Research Center’s “Portrait of Jewish Americans” study has spawned hundreds of conversations touching on the broad range of issues facing the Jewish community today.
Some may see the situation as bleak, but at Jvillage, we see this as a golden opportunity for Jewish engagement!
In my experience working with bloggers, those who write a lot for print have the most difficult time adjusting to writing online. In order to write effectively, you must understand how people read blogs, or read on the web in general -- including your website. And how do users read on the web? The answer is, they don't. They scan.
A friend recently told me that her son and daughter-in-law moved to a community near her just before Rosh Hashanah. They have a three year old and a new born baby. My friend and her son decided to take the three year old to a local parent-tot Rosh Hashanah service. Before they left for the service, my friend heard her daughter-in-law explicitly tell her son, "When you go to the service – make us some new friends".
Lately I have found myself reading about and discussing -- once again -- an all too popular conversation in the Jewish community: the lack of participation and the lack of financial support. This is a topic I can recall hearing about at the dinner table when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s. It was a topic that was driving real results -- the closing of Jewish community organizations throughout the area we lived in.
Recently, The Jewish Week ran an article on the new synagogue competition sprouting up in many different communities. This article showcased many issues that our congregations are facing today, but the primary two that I took away were:
A decreasing number of Jews are becoming dues paying members of synagogues, and
"Competition" from start-ups was causing new friction within the traditional organized Jewish world.
Everyday I wake up, I have this internal struggle between my personal Judaism and my desire to make my synagogue a successful home for our Jewish community. In some ways, this is the conflict between heart and head. At this time of year, it is much harder to get into my head and look at the ways the High Holidays can be used to gain greater engagement, greater relationship with our community, but this is exactly the time to be thinking about engagement opportunities -- that lead to new relationships for the coming year.
Preparations for the High Holidays are full steam ahead. This is the time when we open all the doors and welcome our largest gathering of Jews throughout the year.
This is the time when many first impressions will be made. Whether it is extended family that is visiting, a new congregant’s first time participating in the High Holidays, or new guests who are invited for dinner, these days will provide lasting impressions. These all-important holy days provide the foundation for the future of our synagogues.