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Welcome to Congregation Shaarai Shomayim and thank you for
taking time to learn about our wonderful community.
We are thrilled to offer a full range of experiences to our congregants.
You will find that our calendar is full of social, spiritual,
educational and social justice opportunities.
Please take some time exploring our website to learn about our
sacred community and when you are ready to take a tour of our
historic synagogue please contact our membership chairperson
Donna Cohen at email@example.com.
Joining Congregation Shaarai Shomayim
Most synagogues structure membership around a dues system, where the congregation sets a fixed price for different membership levels. For example, if you are a single adult your cost for dues is one price while a family's cost would be different.
In 2016 our congregation changed our membership model from a dues system (as described above) to what is known as a Sustainable Model.
What is a Sustainable Model?
The Shaarai Shomayim leadership team works for months to develop a budget for the following fiscal year. We ask for input from our staff and our committees to make sure that we are realistic AND aspirational. Once the congregational board approves the budget we divide the budget expense total by the number of households we expect to be part of our membership in the coming year. A simple mathematical way of explaining this would be if:
A budget of $100 with 10 households would make the sustainable number (base commitment) $10 per household.
So now we have the Base Commitment Amount - what's next?
Shaarai Shomayim congregants pledge a financial commitment of their own choosing, with guidance that is based on the base commitment number. Whatever congregants’ chosen commitment, they are considered to be members of the community without negotiation. There is no “dues relief” or “abatement” policy or process. However, the Pledge Committee, a small, confidential committee, may reach out to make sure that you understand how this system works and why we have moved in this direction. In this conversation, we will simply remind you that when it comes to our synagogue, Giving From the Heart is incredibly important to make sure we can provide all of the services and opportunities to the congregation and community.
How can this really work?
Truly, there is only one way that this works for our community, and we need to be honest and fully transparent in this answer - we need those who can give more than the base commitment amount to give more on an annual basis, and we need to ask that every member gives at a level that is meaningful to them.
Why would I give more than the Base Commitment Amount?
Terrific question. The truth is that a significant percentage of our congregation cannot afford to pay the Base Commitment Amount. One of the ways that this system works is by asking those who have the means to give more. This allows for all who want to be members of Shaarai Shomayim to be welcome and to contribute in other meaningful ways.
Does this mean I can choose to give nothing and still be a member?
No. We do ask every person who wishes to join our congregation to make a meaningful pledge. We ask those who can't give at the base commitment amount to be thoughtful about what they are able to pledge. We will not ask for a justification, but we do ask that you understand that if we do not reach our budgeted income we will need to cut out programs and services that we provide to the community.
How can we pay?
We ask that our members commit to a payment plan - either by paying in full at one time, or quarterly or monthly payments. We are happy to help by setting up recurring payments on your credit card or from your bank.
Does the Base Commitment Amount include Sh'arim registration?
Will I be asked to give in other ways?
The pledges will not cover the full range of the budget. Throughout the year you may be asked to support our Brotherhood, Women of Shaarai Shomayim, and our youth groups if they have fundraisers. There are always giving opportunities, whether you choose to buy a Memorial Plaque, Sponsor an Oneg, or attend a fun social evening with friends and family.
Why are we using the Sustainable Model instead of traditional dues?
This is a communal based way of sharing the expense. Because the Pledge Commitment is based on your consideration of the value you place on Shaarai Shomayim, each member can Give From the Heart in a way that is meaningful.
Because each member has the opportunity to determine their meaningful pledge, there is no conversation regarding dues reductions and adjustments. Removing those conversations from our culture makes this a happier community.
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