OU ANNOUNCES GRANTS TO FIVE SYNAGOGUES FOR DEVELOPING CREATIVE AND REPLICABLE FIVE-YEAR FINANCIAL PLANS; OBJECTIVE IS TO MEET SHULS’ CHALLENGE OF PROMOTING LONG-TERM FINANCIAL STABILITY
In recognition that one of the greatest challenges facing its member congregations is the ability to develop long-term fundraising strategies to ensure their financial viability, the Orthodox Union announced it will award grants of $5,000 each to five synagogues for developing “the most creative and comprehensive five-year financial plan.” Five additional OU member congregations will receive consultative services, in lieu of funding, to help them implement their own five-year plans. To qualify for the awards, plans must be replicable in other synagogues.
The announcement was made last week by Rabbi Judah Isaacs at the OU’s annual Executive Directors Conference, held this year in Baltimore. Rabbi Isaacs is Director of the OU’s Community Engagement Department, which developed and will administer the program. “We believe that we can proactively assist synagogues to address this crucial area of operations through a grant application process,” Rabbi Isaacs declared.
Steve Bramson, President of Adath Israel in Quebec, stated, “I congratulate the OU for recognizing the power of its network and for using this network in an innovative way to address the critical funding issue and help end the downward cycle we are facing as a community. I am looking forward to seeing what my fellow shuls come up with.”
Synagogues wishing to participate must inform the OU by December 2, 2011 of their intent. All proposals will be due to the OU on January 13, 2012. Applications will be judged on creativity, sustainability and suitability for replication for other synagogues. The winners will be announced March 15, 2012, with nationwide announcements scheduled for Shabbat HaGadol, the Sabbath preceding Passover, March 31.
The new initiative has been prepared in addition to the Orthodox Union’s $150,000 challenge grant program for developing approaches to make yeshiva education more affordable. The winning grants will be announced on December 5.
Each five-year plan will be required to include fundraising/endowment or bequest targets for each year. The OU financial grant will be given to both implement the plan, and then as matching funds for the initial gifts. The OU consultative grant will provide technical support for the implementation of the plan.
“The grant program is aligned with the mission and vision of the Community Engagement Department, which is to support, empower, inspire and strengthen lay and professional leadership so that they can maximize their institutional success,” Rabbi Isaacs said. “Throughout the grant process the OU will provide guidance and support to congregations, while empowering them to think creatively.”
The OU will present webinars in which the winning synagogues can explain their plan; funding will also be provided for shul leadership to travel to other communities to provide guidance in implementing the plan there. All of this will take place under the leadership of the OU’s Community Engagement Department, Rabbi Isaacs said.