As some of you may know, we are now beginning to prepare our committee and synagogue-wide budget for our next fiscal year. This is a complicated process that involves many hours from our volunteers, who are tasked with developing a balanced budget each year. Our synagogue’s budget is funded primarily through our dues charges however we do run fundraisers throughout the year to help to cover some of our operational costs.
There has been an unfortunate trend over the last several years with some of our long-standing fundraisers and while I do not want to take space here to analyze the reasons behind these trends I do want to present some data for your consideration.
Comedy Night has been a long-standing spring tradition at our synagogue. Since 2010 our attendance at the annual event has been declining from a high of over 100 congregants and guests to a low of 63 this past year. Despite our obtaining a sponsor for last year’s event, we were only able to raise $1,600, down from a high of $5,122 raised in 2012. Because of the steadily declining attendance at this event over the past few years, we are not going to be holding a Comedy Night this year. Our Ways & Means Vice Presidents have an alternative event, a jazz night that I hope people will support enthusiastically.
Grocery Card sales has been our longest and most successful fundraising program. Between 2012 and 2015 this fundraiser has sold over $50,000 worth of certificates, an average of $12,000 per year. The only requirement to participate is that you purchase your gift cards before going to the store. Every dollar spent from your gift card earns us a percentage back. Our annual budget relies on a monthly contribution to our operational expenses of roughly $1,200 from this program. Unfortunately, participation this current fiscal year is so dramatically down from past years that we have not made any profit in the program for at least the past 4 months.
Lastly our Purim Basket sale. This program benefits our religious school program and has historically been one of the school’s more successful fundraisers. I am happy to report that because of some creative pricing models that have been instituted, this program continues to bring in several thousand dollars each year to our religious school program. The interesting point of concern with this annual drive is the rate of participation within our congregation. As of the writing of this article, roughly 10% of our congregation has ordered baskets. This is approximately 40 families out of the 406 that are listed in the computer system that manages the sale for us. The clear majority of those ordering baskets so far are NOT religious school families. While these numbers are certainly not final for this year’s sale, they are typical to what has been happening for the past several sales.
Our fundraising committee members work very hard to bring programs and activities to our synagogue that will be interesting, fun and profitable. While we are not in dire straits right now because of these participation patterns, it is an area of concern that we should look to address. For those of you who have been disconnected from our current activities and have ideas that could be used to supplement our current programs please let me know. If you don’t have a new idea but want to participate in helping with one of our current activities, please step forward. A more successful fundraising program means lower dues increases to support our budget.