The Case for Budget Transparency

Aug 20, 2014 by

In his article, Show Them What You’re Working With: How Transparency Leads to Sustainability, Measuring Success founder Sacha Litman argues that building trust — especially around finances — with members is essential to helping them understand their role in the financial health of the congregation.   But, he observes, many synagogues a) don’t price programs according to their cost (misleading) and b) don’t offer budget transparency to members so they can understand the full picture.  This leads to mistrust, reinforces the transactional nature of synagogue membership, and risks people feeling that they aren’t getting value for their dollar.

He writes, “Our surveys of 20,000 synagogue members have shown that the key driver of synagogue membership is the perceived value for the dollar of membership. What most strongly correlates to perceived value for the dollar? Budget transparency. When leadership doesn’t share the true cost of programs, and uses funds to subsidize programs as it sees fit, not only do recipients undervalue the program, but they also feel a disconnect with the synagogue that ultimately causes them to the congregation. Including members in the conversation about budg- et priorities and explaining the rationale behind expenses is a great step to retaining members and ensuring financial sustainability.”.

Download and read Show Them What You’re Working With: How Transparency Leads to Sustainability.


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