Thursday, July 28, 2011

Who Is Driving Revenue? - Robert I. Evans, Founder & Managing Director of The EHL Consulting Group, Inc.

Streaming Services

Using technology pro-actively in fundraising requires a strategy and an understanding about what attracts donors and makes the donation process as easy as possible.  Here is one prominent fundraising consultant’s thinking about being donor friendly.

Every non-profit organization, including the thousands North American Jewish congregations, employs a varied staff to service many important functions. The clergy leads the spirituality of the congregation, the executive director oversees overall operations, the financial expert safeguards the financials, the school staff nurtures learning, and the teen director creates social experiences for the young adults; increasingly, congregations are adding a development director, too. Together, it is a sophisticated blend of managing the membership base and keeping current and potential members happy . . . and generous.

But who is really responsible for strengthening the congregation’s fundraising and how is new technology becoming the new driving force in raising that money? Think about your congregation’s staff as your own personal social network. How many of them actively pursue the synagogue’s development interests? In reality, the responsibility lies within the purview of every staff member. That’s right, EVERY synagogue staff member, no matter what functionality or level of authority, is in essence a part of the fund resource development team. Now think of technology as enhanced technological social network. Let’s begin with your own synagogue website.

It is also important to reach out to your members in a free and non-abrasive way. Collect Twitter handles and create a Facebook Group. With Twitter, you can create a hashtag for your synagogue functions (a # before your posts that signals for Twitter to create it as a topic). With Facebook, you can add events and drum up interest by self-promoting. Every person interacts directly and indirectly with people, knows someone, is connected to someone or can introduce someone to the congregational family. This works on both a personal and as a social network level.

Working in a membership based organization is different than with almost any other situation. Mechanics see cars come and go, a plumber may fix the sink and never need to be seen again, a chef cooks food but seldom interacts with the restaurant’s patrons. All are important service-oriented industries that rely on repeat customers but synagogues offer a special warmth and emotional service that cannot always be calculated. Unless every member of the congregation’s team is working in concert to show the values of membership, members may affiliate elsewhere.

As it is true that the Rabbi may often be the most often acknowledged fundraiser because he/she is the face of the congregation, more money will be raised if the staff is considered as an invaluable aspect of the fundraising team, involved and passionate about the synagogue.

Think about who brings in the dollars from members and realize that every man and woman is part of the fundraising process. Recognize, too, that online fundraising is probably the “new” area of fundraising for Jewish organizations and especially congregations. Truly think outside of the tzedakah box in considering new revenue streams, using technology creatively, and appealing to members of the Jewish family at all ages and at all levels of technological proficiency.

Robert Evans is the founder and managing director of The EHL Consulting Group, based in suburban Philadelphia. EHL Consulting works with non-profits across the globe on fundraising, strategic planning, non-profit business practices, and volunteer leadership issues. Look for frequent blogs on Contact him at

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