Connected Congregations: From Dues and Membership to Sustaining Communities of Purpose.

Oct 23, 2013 by

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 7.05.51 PMSYNERGY: UJA-Federation of New York and Synagogues Together began an exploration a number of years ago by seeking out and examining alternative financial models for synagogue sustainability. But the deeper they delved and the further they peeled back the layers, the more they began to understand that the issues facing synagogues at this time were more complex than simple financial sustainability — including, critically, the downward trend in congregational affiliation and membership. The trend was not purely a result of affordability; rather, it revealed changes in attitude toward membership and belonging, a new prevailing narrative about the lack of relevance of today’s synagogues, and a shift toward a more transactional relationship between a synagogue and its congregants, where the focus is often on dues, program fees, and abatements.

To shed light on the growing dissonance of our existing models, and to uncover some key innovations in alternative financial models as well, SYNERGY retained researcher Beth Cousens, Ph.D., to more deeply examine and report on the key alignment between the financial health of synagogues and the values and innovations that are reflective of this new reality.

SYNERGY produced two valuable products of this work. First, a report Connected Congregations: From Dues and Membership to Sustaining Communities of Purpose., which surveys the landscape and describes three models of membership seen across congregations.  The second, a Discussion Guide for Connected Congregations: From Dues and Membership to Sustaining Communities of Purpose, that helps leaders facilitate internal conversations around vision, relationships, and sacredness of money, among others.  Download these valuable resources for free from UJA-Federation of New York at http://www.ujafedny.org/synergy-connected-congregations-report/

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