The ‘Pay What You Want' Experiment at Synagogues

by Michael Paulson. The New York Times. Accessed April 14, 2017.

Does your synagogue request (or require) membership dues from members? Has your board talked about alternatives? This New York Times article from 2015 profiles various congregations that are trying new ways of collecting funds from members, while not requiring or dictating what those contributions should be. Various leaders weigh in on the pros and cons of current practice and new alternatives. One alternative noted in the article is for synagogue boards to make giving voluntary, while at the same time providing information that might guide a household’s decision about how much to give. In some settings, transparency goes with the voluntary approach. Boards tell members how much money it costs to support services for a particular household. Moving from membership dues to voluntary giving may not work for every synagogue. But, this news article is one way to introduce the conversation to your setting. As one rabbi is quoted as saying after the synagogue he leads moved to voluntary giving, “We’ve been amazed by the increase.”