Perhaps membership dues aren’t the problem – perceived value is.
For decades, temples have been known to finance their operations through annual dues. But when the recession hit, several new trends started to emerge. Many members lost their jobs and, thus, the income that supported their dues. Meanwhile, young adults found it difficult to rationalize annual dues within an already limited budget. In response, temples around America started their own trend – rethinking synagogue financing.
Many of these institutions implemented suggested donations, rather than required dues. This strategy isn’t new. In fact, this is what churches have done for decades. Rather than require dues, in which synagogues can charge an average of up to $3,100 a year, churches send around a collection box asking for any nominal donation.
Will donations help?
This could be part of the reason that a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center found that only 31 percent of American Jews actually belonged to a synagogue. Instead of regular attendance, individuals tend to show up for high holidays or bar mitzvahs and find other, less expensive ways to maintain their ties to Jewish religion and culture, such as joining a study group. With these financial and social realities, a massive change in due structure is underway. However, is it sufficient?
If rabbis are sought after for lifecycle events or holidays, rather than moral or spiritual development, then will free membership make a difference in the long run? The problem with synagogues may not be the financial burden they impose, but their perceived value to prospective and current members.
What can be improved?
Provide value and the people will come, at whatever reasonable price. Empower members to believe and preach their faith. Engage them with discussions that they can bring into their daily life – how to be a better person, a superior business person, and a great family member, and they will continue to come back. Organizations typically don’t die because they’re too expensive; they go under because they fail to provide enough value to enough people.
The biggest asset in help you bring value is communication that allows you to positively stay on the minds of your members. This can come in multiple forms, whether it’s texting or emailing about news and events, photo sharing, or surveys about member benefits. While crafting the right amount and types of communications may seem overwhelming, it can be made easier with a full-service member management tool like memberplanet.
What tactics can improve value?
Stay relevant to your members by being present both while they’re in the synagogue and also in their daily life. With member management software, it only takes a few clicks. Here are some examples:
Email campaigns: Hosting a special event? Need ideas from your members? Want to wish your members a happy holiday? Choose a template and color palette and get your message out in minutes.
Group text message: Ever wished you could talk to all of your members at once, while also letting them discuss topics with one another? Group text messages are the solution. Register a phone number with your own area code and, in seconds, send an SMS message to all or some of your members reminding them of tomorrow’s service.
Donation site: Don’t wait until members are attending your services to ask for donations. Set up a donation site and begin collecting them in minutes! Engage donors with interactive features and social sharing so they can extend the word out to their networks.
Rather than decreasing dues, consider investing more funds into creating a valuable organization for your members. Part of the solution may be a full-service, membership management tool that can improve your communications and help revive your perceived value. Create your free memberplanet account today and see the opportunities that are out there to improve your membership.