As we continue to reflect on over 102 years since we were founded, one question repeatedly arises: How strong will the Jewish community be a century from today? It is an issue because without flourishing synagogues, day schools, JCCs and community organizations, the Jewish community, as we know it, will not be. That’s why JCF has committed to providing capacity building services to help cultivate high-performing organizations. Our services include pro bono consulting, specialized trainings and communities of practice.
The Synagogue Federation Partnership launched in 2007, and was designed to strengthen the relationship between Synagogue and Federation leadership. By 2010, JCF allocated funds that enabled three capacity building projects to begin to help synagogues develop their fundraising and membership capacities:
The Community Legacy Project (CLP)
The CLP is a partnership between the JCF and a diverse group of synagogues and local community organizations. The goal is to equip institutions with the tools they need to market themselves, secure endowments and self-sustain over the long-term. Guidance is provided from Bay Area experts in fundraising and infrastructure building who have been hired to serve as coaches to selected local Jewish organizations. In the first 24 months, 350 commitments totaling $27.9 million were made to the participating institutions, and organizations reported an average of 57% increase in their annual campaign.
Seven synagogues are participating with a goal to strengthen their capacity to raise funds. The focus in year one was to develop and/or enhance each synagogue’s annual fund campaign. In year two, congregations further improved their annual fundraising and explored comprehensive revenue models for their synagogues. Just one example of recent success is Congregation Beth Israel Judea who had a 53% increase in their 5772 High Holy Day Appeal.
The Synagogue Federation Membership Initiative’s goal is to help synagogues learn more about themselves in order to develop smarter outreach to prospective members. The project partners the Federation with Bay Area synagogues by providing 5 coaches that will help 8 institutions through the project over a period of 18 months. Analyzing survey data and focus group responses, organizers will conduct training of clergy, staff and lay leadership to better equip synagogues to recruit and retain potential members over the long haul. From there, a team of synagogue staff and lay leaders will work with one of the project’s coaches to interpret the data, conduct further focus groups and use the collected information to design custom membership programs.