High Holy Days: It’s an Opportunity

Many of us have the annual debate: whether the High Holy Days are early or late this year. If Rosh Hashanah falls soon after Labor Day – as it does this year on September 9th – pundits comment that the High Holy Days are early this year. When Rosh Hashanah starts after September 15th, many of us speak of the High Holy Days being late.

The reality is, of course, unless we are in a Leap Year of the Hebrew Calendar, when there is a second month of Adar, the High Holy Days are always right on time.

So now – 60 days to the High Holy Days – is the time to begin to create your High Holy Day Campaign plan. You will have several opportunities to communicate with congregants preparing for the High Holidays, whether it be about financial statements, recipes, and worship schedules. You will have a captive audience for worship, with people being in a synagogue frame of mind. And studies I have read – and more importantly, my fundraiser’s gut – tell us that people are most likely to make contributions to the synagogue at this time of year.

The important thing here is to do something.

Here is a “fundraising toolkit” that you might follow. Maybe the end of summer for your congregants doesn’t happen until Labor Day. And reaching out to congregants with capacity as well as a history of support of the High Holy Day Appeal is a challenge before that.

So one option is to compress what you do between Labor Day and the first day of Sukkot. You still need to target persons with capacity and if possible, speak with them in person. Congregants with any High Holy Day giving history should be asked for an increased gift over what they contributed previously.

While technology can make the various ways we communicate easier, personalization for both a mail merge for a snail mail letter or email always helps. Add a personal handwritten note on a letter, even if it is simply “thank you for all that you do for our synagogue community”. And send out the letter, with a response form and return envelope, so it arrives in congregants’ homes just after Labor Day.

Have emails prepared and ready to be sent to arrive when people arrive home on Rosh Hashanah afternoon, and the morning after Yom Kippur. Don’t be afraid to incorporate short video messages from the clergy and other synagogue leaders. Most importantly, be sure to have a link to your donation webpage, and even a “radio button” with that same link interspersed throughout the concise copy.

Like anything in life, the more planning you do ahead of time, the more effective your campaign efforts will be. If you procrastinate, Labor Day will be here before you know it, and your High Holy Day campaign will happen by the seat of your pants.

If you need help to brainstorm ideas and to develop a plan, feel free to reach out.

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