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Creating a Culture of Philanthropy

08/15/2021 07:57:40 PM


Steve Fintel

I’m writing this in the evening following our Culture of Philanthropy workshop and wanted to share my thoughts about the program and process.

For those of you that had a chance to attend our annual meeting this past June, I discussed that for this fiscal year, we were going to lean in to adding services (adding a full time rabbi, adding an ordained cantor, education coordinator, funding a part time social justice coordinator and an assistant producer to aid in streaming services). I firmly believe that organizations that invest in a downturn reap the greatest benefits when the environment turns around. But all of that costs money and our budget projections indicate that our income will fall short of the incremental cost of delivering the additional capabilities.

There are two ways of balancing any budget: reduce costs or increase revenue. Your temple leadership chose the latter. We hired an industry leading consultant – Rabbi Louis Feldstein of Dynamic Change Solutions who specializes in working with faith based organizations on improving their development efforts. The core Culture of Philanthropy philosophy is to shift from a transactional model where we charge dues in exchange for providing services (education, religious and social) into a relational model where we partner with our congregants to meet their spiritual needs. This model is a hand in glove fit with our vision statement and overall philosophy of being a warm and welcoming reform Jewish congregation.

To pursue this shift we have created a Culture of Philanthropy task force chaired by our new Financial Secretary Larry Cohen. He will be assisted by congregants Angie Harrison, Ron Klayman and Hal Lefton as well as former presidents Lynn Katz, Seth Winick, Executive Director Patti Bridwell, and Rabbi Eleanor Steinman. They were joined in today’s workshop by the board, clergy and key staff. There was a notable energy as Lou outlined the cornerstone tenets of the CoP philosophy and towards the end of the day it was clear that all were able to envision how we could implement this program and strengthen our community. I will continue to provide progress reports on our efforts in this space (it is a high priority agenda item for this year’s board) in my blog where I’ve copied this update.

Feel free to contact me to ask any questions about this exciting program. You can email me at

Tue, May 24 2022 23 Iyar 5782