62% of Reform Synagogues Grew Fundraising Last Year, Targeted Survey Says

Across the country, many synagogues are struggling to raise funds. But a select group of Reform congregations appear to be bucking the trend.

In a survey taken in advance of an Aug. 20 conference call organized by the Reform Synagogue Development Professionals, 62 percent of the professionals reported that their congregation’s fundraising efforts grew in the past year. At the same time, 8 percent reported that their fundraising total declined over the previous year, while 29 percent reported no change.

To be sure, with 24 Reform development professionals participating – out of 35 total RSDP members – the sample size wasn’t huge. However, the participants all represented major Reform synagogues and demonstrate that fundraising success is attainable for congregations, said Robert Evans, president of the Evans Consulting Group. Evans was the featured speaker on the conference call. His firm also conducted the informal survey in advance of the call.

In addition, 42 percent of those surveyed said their congregation expected to undertake a major campaign in the next few years, 21 percent reported they had no such plans, 29 percent said they begun a major campaign 2 percent said they had just completed one.

When asked if their clergy members actively solicited contributions, 91 percent of the professionals responded yes while 9 percent said no.

“Members of the Reform Synagogue Development Professionals all represent synagogues that are ahead of the curve in terms of fundraising practices, such as having clergy be an active part of the process,” said Evans. “They may be outliers, but they serve as excellent examples and can point the way forward for congregations of all denominations seeking to bolster their fundraising efforts.”