Why do we need a Capital Campaign?
The costs associated with the operations and programs of Beth Emet are funded through a variety of sources including membership commitments, education fees, charges for special events to cover costs, and contributions.
Funds raised from a Capital Campaign are intended to cover medium- to longer-term needs, such as capital improvement projects, and longer-term financial stability through increases to an endowment. On average, a vibrant religious or educational institution in the United States undergoes a capital campaign every 7-8 years. Beth Emet’s last capital campaign was 18 years ago. We are long overdue, and our needs are very real.
We know this because in 2012, as part of our work on our Master Plan, we hired a consultant to examine and report to us about the long-term health of our building. We learned our lesson the hard way when the boiler suddenly stopped working in 2002 and we were ill prepared to pay for a new one. Earlier this year the same consultant returned to Beth Emet to update the original report and reiterated his recommendation that we replace our cooling and heating system at our earliest opportunity, as it is essentially operating on ‘borrowed time.’ We are taking this recommendation to heart and this project will be one of the first to be addressed when we start the renovation this fall.
A capital campaign offers the lay and volunteer leadership of a non-profit organization the luxury of planning, of making decisions that are thoughtful and strategic rather than emotional and reactive. We also save money by planning construction and expenditures to suit our timeframe, instead of needing to make a purchase under pressure. One example of this in practice is how we are approaching the installation of the new HVAC system. We had a very small window of time before the High Holidays, and some of the professionals thought the schedule was doable. However, the schedule left no cushion for unexpected findings or delays. We ran the risk of being without any air conditioning at all, or having to spend a lot of money to import a temporary cooling system to cool the building during the most trafficked time of the year. We felt the risk was too great and decided against it. Instead our plan is for the HVAC system to be installed during December and January when the building is least occupied and the fewest congregants and students will be inconvenienced.
Why do we need a Mitzvah Appeal at the same time we have a Capital Campaign?
While the Beth Emet Capital Campaign is focused on updating our infrastructure and bolstering our endowment, the Mitzvah Appeal is an annual effort necessary to make up for the shortfall in our budget. Our annual budget this year is approximately $2.2 million (85% of which is made up of personnel costs). Membership commitments from our approximately 700 families and programmatic fees (school fees, B’nai Mitzvah fees, etc.) are not enough to cover all the costs associated with the wide range of programs provided by Beth Emet. Most religious organizations rely on an annual appeal to balance their budget.
If we have the Mitzvah Appeal to make up for shortages in membership dues, why don’t we just increase the cost of dues a significant amount?
Our congregation is made up of members with varying degrees of economic capacity. Increasing membership dues significantly across the board would place an undue hardship on many of our members. We do not want to be the type of congregation that turns away prospective members because of not being able to afford membership dues. We deliberately and consciously are living our ethics and ideals, and include members regardless of their ability to pay. But this idealistic approach only functions properly if people who can afford to pay in full do so (and then further contribute to the Mitzvah appeal).
In short, a healthy non-profit organization relies on three types of fundraising tools: an annual program for immediate needs, a capital program once every decade or so to focus on major projects and renovations, and a planned giving program dedicated to long-term financial stability. Beth Emet is doing all three to ensure the future of our physical and spiritual community.
How will you be keeping us informed about the progress of the Campaign?
We will be communicating with the Beth Emet community constantly, consistently, and hopefully clearly. You will see periodic updates in EmetMail (the online newsletter that’s published bi-weekly) and the Chadashon (the printed bulletin that comes out twice a year), and in an e-newsletter that just focuses on the Campaign. We will update the website regularly with new information as it becomes available, add video clips on social media (Facebook and YouTube), and hold Campaign Conversations periodically. The first Campaign Conversation took place on June 20 in the Weiner Room, where about 65 Beth Emet members heard the latest information about the renovation plans and asked questions of Rabbi London, Ross Bricker, Jeff Mann, and Lee Weintraub. We are always available to talk to you, answer your questions, and respond to your concerns.
Who is this ‘we’ you keep referring to? Who are the major players?
Indeed it does take a village to accomplish anything significant. Here is a partial list of people who are involved in one or more aspects of the Capital Campaign:
- Andrea London, Senior Rabbi
- Ross Bricker, President of the Board of Trustees
- The Capital Campaign Committee, comprised of Shari Reiches (Chair) and her husband, Steve, Stopher Bartol, Ross Bricker, Patti and Mel Gerbie, Ariel and Jennifer Goldfarb, David and Lizzie Graham, and Jeff Mann.
- The Building Renovation Committee, comprised of Lee Weintraub, Steve Galler, Sharon Ephraim, Bob Render and Brad White, have been working hard for the past year representing Beth Emet in meetings with the architects. Sharon and Bob are Past Presidents of Beth Emet. Lee is an architect who, along with Sharon, actively leads the master planning process. Steve is a real estate attorney, and both Steve and Brad have deep experience in property development and project management.
- Bekki Harris Kaplan, Executive Director of Beth Emet
- Wendi Kromash, Director of Development of Beth Emet
- The Board of Trustees and the Executive Officers of the congregation, the Immediate Past President, and past presidents.
- Jeff Mann, President of the Beth Emet Foundation. Jeff is also the Campaign Treasurer.
There are many more people involved, but these are some with the most public and prominent roles.
What’s the best way to ask a question about some aspect of the Capital Campaign?
Questions that will benefit the congregation will be added to the Q&A section as appropriate. For each email or letter received, someone will get back to you with a response, either an answer to a question or an acknowledgement of your remarks.