Synagogue Crisis Campaign
Installment 3

Screen capture: Galina Design Group

[Editor’s note: No assumptions should be drawn about the financial health of the synagogue pictured above by its inclusion with this post.]


Installment 3

By Eileen Aroesti

Now that the synagogue leadership, professional staff and clergy are prepared for the present emotional and financial state of the synagogue and the strategy for synagogue membership renewal is developed, as well as the best and worst case-scenarios, the “Case for Giving” for the Healing Campaign can be created. The “Case for Giving,” is based on all the previous information gathered in Steps 1-5 in Installment 1 and Step 6 in Installment 2 of The Healing Campaign Plan.


It is time to compile all of the research and conclusions you have obtained in Steps 1-6 in The Healing Campaign Plan, into a cohesive document that states clearly and concisely the present State of the Synagogue

  • What are the challenges for the synagogue and how will these challenges be addressed?
  • What has presently been done to offset the cost of these challenges? 
  • How much revenue is expected to be lost in membership, tuition, affiliate fees etc.?
  • What new sources of revenue have been obtained (endowment, CARES ACT, PPP & EIDL Programs) and how much? 
  • What good will has been instituted and what has been the dollar cost of instituting that good will?
  • What will this year’s membership renewal look like?
  • How many children are estimated to be enrolled in the schools and how will that enrollment take place? Are there new educational models being instituted?
  • How will the best and worst-case scenarios be viewed and what are the losses to the synagogue given both of these scenarios? 
  • Has there been an angel(s) who stepped up and offered monetary assistance? 

This is a comprehensive document that will be viewed and approved by leadership so they know exactly where the synagogue stands. This is also the document that The Healing Campaign Committee will use to develop the “Case for Giving.”


Without the right people leading the charge, this campaign will not resonate with the community. The lay and professional partnership in this campaign must be congregants that are well-respected, thoughtful and trusted leaders plus they must know and enjoy fundraising. Leadership that has developed long-term relationships within the community, can articulate the “Case for Giving,” elaborate on the actions that have taken place to circumvent the challenges, has the ability to speak to a myriad of congregants AND MAKES THEIR OWN GIFT!  


The newly appointed leadership, which ideally would be a lay person coupled with a staff person, would sit down, or rather meet virtually with the president of the synagogue, the rabbi(s), the executive director, the heads of schools and their presidents, and the chairs of the affiliates. They would brainstorm about persons who would be asked to join The Healing Campaign Committee. Each attendee would be brought up to speed via the State of the Synagogue document. Once the brainstorming has concluded, as well as suggestions of whom to ask to be on the committee and who should ask them to join, a quick bulleted script would be written to assist in asking suggested synagogue members to be part of The Healing Campaign Committee.  


We now convene the newly appointed Healing Campaign Committee and do the work needed to create the “Case for Giving.” The committee will use the State of the Synagogue information to form the basis of this case and glean from this document the following:

  • The amount of funds that have been lost, where and why.
  • The amount of funds that are needed to be raised.
  • Where these funds will be designated.
  • Why they are necessary.
  • What is the long-term benefit to the synagogue, to the future of the Jewish community and to the local community from these funds.

Furthermore, they will need to decide how to market this campaign(s), what materials are needed, how solicitations will take place, time-lines on the campaign(s), quiet vs public campaigns, who will be the voice and face of a particular campaign and the role of the following:

  • The role of the rabbi(s), clergy and senior staff

It must be clearly articulated who does what and to whom. First and foremost, what does the Senior Rabbi expect to do and what can you ask that person to do. Are they a good fundraiser or better at explaining the needs? What are their strengths and weaknesses and how to incorporate them into the campaign, along with the additional clergy. The heads of schools, executive director, development director, program, marketing and youth director – don’t overlook their ability to influence their particular cadre of congregants. It is best that everyone at this level have responsibility in this campaign so it can realize its full potential.

  • The role of the administrative staff and educators

These valuable administrators and educators are your infantry – without them your finger will not be on the pulse of the congregational thinking in regard to the synagogue’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. They handle the day to day communication with the congregation from answering calls and emails, inputting data and running reports, to setting up spread sheets for the campaign. They design the needed materials, email blasts and social media content. The educators know what the families are thinking and how the children, their parents and their grandparents are feeling. Keep them in the loop at all times – they are needed and appreciated. 

In Installment IV of the Synagogue Crisis Campaign Plan (next week) we will discuss steps to “Design and Implement the Campaign” for The Healing Campaign Plan.  

Philanthropy Rising – Synagogue Fundraising Consulting at, is headed by its principal, Eileen Aroesti, who has been fundraising in the Jewish Community for 30 years – 20 of which have been as a Development Director in both conservative and reform synagogues. She has successfully worked on Synagogue Crisis Campaigns including the 2008/09 Great Recession.