We were at our synagogue the other night for a movie – Little White Lies (watch it, really great). We gathered in the sanctuary and it dawned on me that this is perhaps the only time during the summer that people will be in the sanctuary for anything. Except for Lucia’s Bat Mitzvah on September 5th, Rosh Hashanah – 7 weeks from now – is when the sanctuary will again be in use.
There is a lot of planning that takes place during the summer months. And this is true for fundraising. My “fundraiser’s gut” tells me that the two times of year that Jews are most apt to make contributions are in September and December. You can be sure that the direct mail solicitations and email blasts from Jewish organizations will begin to arrive in your mail boxes around September 1st and continue throughout the month.
I have often written in this blog and spoken about with synagogue boards that at the time of the High Holy Days, people are in “a synagogue frame of mind”. The majority of your congregants will be coming into the sacred space where your community gathers for the HHD on a number of occasions during a two-week time span. That is pretty intense.
Don’t be afraid to ask. You might be hesitant. You might be thinking that every other Jewish organization is asking. And you don’t want the synagogue to be like them. This is your time. They will be at High Holy Day Worship. They are making a statement that being a part of a Jewish community is important to them. There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of their commitment to the synagogue and asking.
Check out my High Holy Day fundraising Tool Kit that I blogged about last year. Here are a few other ideas. Can you identify 5% of your congregants who have the capacity to make a contribution of $1000 or more over and above dues/annual commitments? By September 1st, ask those people personally to make this special contribution. Dues/annual commitments account for less than 50% of the synagogue’s overall income (a true statement for most congregations). Such a special gift sets an important example for others to follow.
Ask the rest of the congregation via the mail and email for a special gift of $250 or $100, or whatever amount with which they feel comfortable (Here is the link to the sample letter in the took kit). The important thing here is to ask. Don’t be afraid as you are asking from a position of strength: the synagogue needs their help and support to continue all of the great work it is doing to build a strong and vibrant sacred community.
It sometimes feels that asking for money is a pain. On the contrary, we should keep in mind that asking for Tzedakah is a mitzvah (From the Mishneh Torah 10:6):
As for the one who presses others to give Tzedakah, and persuades them to do so, that person’s reward is greater than the one who gives Tzedakah as it is stated in scripture “And the work of the righteousness shall be peace “(Isaiah, 32:17).
I am happy to help you with your High Holy Day fundraising plan. Don’t be afraid to ask!