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Annual Giving & Membership FAQ

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q. A $1.6 million budget? Can you break it down for me?

A. Our expenses are divided into the following categories:

Personnel - 39% (salary, benefits, insurance, taxes, etc.)

Building Expenses - 19% (utilities, repairs, maintenance, security systems, etc.)

Programming - 11% (holidays, education, catering, gala - excludes youth programming)

Youth Programming - 10% (shabbat groups, Shorashim, Camp Kibbutz, holiday programming, etc.)

Operations - 8% (IT, phone, liability & workman’s comp insurance, office supplies, etc.)

Outside Services - 6% (accounting services, investment management, HVAC debt servicing, etc.)

Mikvah - 3% (attendants, maintenance, repairs, supplies, events, etc.)

Other - 5% (publishing, eruv, rabbinic/maharat intern, scholars-in-residence, etc.)

On the revenue side, dues currently only make up roughly 10% of our revenues. Other revenue sources include programming, donations from generous members, dividends, and interest.

Another way to view it: If you take the annual budget and divide it by the number of member units (about 350), each unit’s “share” is approximately $5,000. We look to those who have the financial means to consider increasing your gift and investing in the financial health of the shul.

Q. Why should I make an annual commitment? Won’t I just get hounded again at the High Holidays, end of year and Gala?

A: Our new comprehensive giving plans include high holiday tickets, gala tickets, and registration in the Purim fundraiser. While we cannot guarantee that you won’t hear about our campaigns, by contributing upfront, we can limit our contact to you. Additionally, making an upfront annual commitment helps to ensure that we can meet our financial obligations, including payroll and other expenses.

Q. What are some of the ways the synagogue is trying to work more efficiently and decrease operating expenses?

A: The synagogue staff and Board are aggressively working to find areas that can be made more efficient and ways to reduce costs. Beginning last fiscal year, we established a detailed budgeting process, and continue to engage staff members to find more creative ways to reduce costs. We have restructured our weekly kiddush to be more cost effective. On the program side, we are focused on providing meaningful programming executed in a fiscally responsible way. Additionally, we recently undertook an effort to review all maintenance contracts and have re-bid a number of them to help reduce costs. During 2017 we expect to transition to ShulCloud, which will allow us to better manage billing and invoicing. We will continue to find any and all ways to reduce costs in order to use every dollar appropriately.

Q: How can I get more involved in contributing to the financial health of the shul?

A: We believe in complete transparency about our budget. Our budget is approved every year at our annual meeting which takes place in May, which is open to all members. If you would like more specific financial information please speak with our Treasurer, Josh Schenker (Treasurer@ostns.org) or Executive Director, Sarah Shapiro (Sarah.Shapiro@ostns.org).  Additionally, we encourage you to provide any suggestions or input to the Board by emailing us at Board@ostns.org. We would also welcome your support in volunteering, especially with one of our committees. Please contact our Clergy, President or Executive Director to discuss opportunities.