Three years ago, based on our members’ feedback, CEEBJ changed how we approach the financial support of our synagogue. For many years, we had employed a fair-share dues-based model — where every family was given a target level of synagogue support based on income. What we heard loud and clear from our survey was that few of us want to make a dues contribution based on an annual self-reporting of income; income has little to do with an individual family’s circumstances.
By moving to a voluntary annual commitment we have opened up the opportunity for giving to our synagogue, our community, our spiritual home, in an amount that reflects both our financial means and the importance of CEEBJ in our lives. We no longer need to feel pressure when a personal financial situation changes, and we now understand, in real terms, that when we have more to give, we can look into our hearts and give accordingly.
In these three years, we’ve seen the beginning of a transformation — we’ve had 37 families of all ages and sizes join since this past July 1, and we believe that this new approach has contributed to that wonderful growth in membership. At the same time, as with any new program, we have received some important questions, so we thought we’d address them for our entire congregation:
I know it is up to me…but still, how do I know how much to give as my annual commitment? We want to be transparent – $3,600 is a true “sustaining amount” (this is our total expenses divided by the number of member families), with some members paying above and others paying below. Those who contribute at this sustaining amount or above are members of our Chai Society and are recognized for their commitment to our community. Most importantly, your annual commitment is a way to support the mission of our sacred community at a level that you feel to be meaningful and appropriate.
It is difficult for me to give as a lump sum, are there are other options? Absolutely. Many of our members break down their commitment into monthly or quarterly automatic payments. If you’d like to work out a custom payment schedule, Betty Lieberman, our Interim Executive Director, would be happy to arrange that with you.
Is the Voluntary Annual Commitment a sustainable model for CEEBJ? The sustainability of our voluntary commitment is indeed possible. But it requires all members of the congregation to reflect on the value that CEEBJ brings to their lives — the spiritual, educational, social and service opportunities we share as a community — and to make our congregation a priority in their giving. We hope everyone gives generously based upon their circumstances, and we extend a sincere debt of gratitude to all, and especially to our most generous supporters, who continue to invest in this congregation and ensure its future.
I hope this helps bring some clarity to CEEBJ’s voluntary annual commitment policy, but as always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact Betty at [email protected] or me at [email protected] Thank you for supporting our community.