Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Transition from a Dues System to a Voluntary Contribution System

What is the New System?

The new system allows members to decide how much they want to give each year to support the Temple’s operations. Our finance committee will determine a “sustaining amount” each year that we need a substantial portion of our members to give at or above in order to balance our budget. Every member will decide their own contribution amount according to their ability and circumstances. The first step in our new system is to ask you to pledge an amount for the next fiscal year that begins in July. Just as we currently do, you will then have the option to pay all at once, in two installments in July and January, or monthly installments.

Why shake up the system?

We spent two years studying this issue and found that all of the trends nationally, regionally and at Temple Beth Abraham pointed to the need to change our financial relationship with congregants. This new system addresses barriers to entry and promotes greater flexibility. Most importantly, we think it is important to imbue everything we do, including raising funds for operations, with the values that we hold dear.

Why do you think this new system will be successful?

Temple Beth Abraham is part of a growing number of synagogues that have moved from traditional models to more flexible donation systems over the past few years. Almost all of the synagogues that have made the transition have found that their congregants continue to be very generous with their donations. Traditional models do not fit the interests of younger families and insist that families ask for relief if they are having financial difficulties, which we feel is not in keeping with our fundamental principles of inclusiveness and dignity. In addition, while TBA will now be part of a larger nationwide trend of synagogues making similar changes, we believe there will be a great advantage in being on the leading edge of this trend in Westchester County both because we believe it will hold wide appeal and because it demonstrates our progressive leadership on the issue.

Will this be TBA’s only request for funds for the year?

No, this effort only replaces the amount we have traditionally raised from dues. We will continue to raise funds through our Annual Appeal at High Holy Days and through other fundraisers during the year.

Will it now be more expensive to affiliate with Temple Beth Abraham?

No. No one is required to give more than they have donated in the past. Everyone who participates will be a full-member of the synagogue. The pledge and donation system will look different with the sustaining amount plus other optional levels of giving, but every congregant household can decide for themselves the amount they want to support Temple Beth Abraham. While we are still early in our annual budget process, we expect that our expenses will increase between 2.5% – 4% next year and would ask you to consider a similar increase in your level of giving.

What about Special Arrangements?

There is no longer a need to have a special arrangements system to provide dues relief to members who are struggling financially. Every member will decide the appropriate amount for themselves.

What about the Building Fund, Religious School Tuition and B'nai Mitzvah Fees?

New members are still expected to make their contribution to the Building fund and we will continue to charge fees for specific items, such as school tuition, guest High Holy Day seats and B’nai Mitzvah fees. Scholarships will remain available at our award-winning religious school.

What if my circumstances change during the year?

We understand that people’s financial circumstances sometimes change unexpectedly. Just let us know what your new pledge amount will be. Also, please let us know if there is any way we can help you and your family during a stressful time.

What if things don't go well?

As with any new system, we very well may need to make improvements to it after the first year (and thereafter). We have reserves that can supplement our revenue while the system takes hold. The board will carefully monitor our finances (as we always do!) to determine if we can afford to continue this effort.