Sunday, March 18, 2012

In Which I Am Confused

The shul we attend, like most, collects dues.  On the membership form they provide a 'helpful' chart indicating how much they think you should contribute.  This is extremely problematic for many reasons:

1) It is divided by range ($30000-$40000) but each range's 'dues' are the same percentage... of the top of the range.

2) If you have less income, less of it is disposable. 

3) It doesn't take into account how many people that income supports.

4) People have various financial situations which are none of the shul's business. College.  Child support.  Bankruptcy.  Whatever.

5) I know they want to keep this more-or-less-a-business up and running.  Still. 

In the end, I didn't fill out the form 'correctly'.  I didn't circle an 'income tier.'  I attached a $100 check and ticked the box for "The financial committee can contact me to discuss alternate arrangements."  I helpfully added that I sew and have done repairs on ritual items.  And.... nothing.  Well, not nothing: we got a new member welcome packet, a call from the Rabbi and from the President, and a directory listing.  I have been mending kid-related things when I run across them (I asked first).  Otherwise, I think that either a) someone wasn't really paying attention or b) they've decided we're too poor to bother with. 


  1. Or, if it's anything like our community garden, c) most people don't pay even that much. I felt guilty paying in the middle of our membership range until seeing the books.

  2. HAAAA! Definitely too poor to bother with. I bet they all shake their heads while opening the envelope and say, SO SO POOOOR! But for reals, that system sounds unhelpful, so I imagine most people end up paying whatever they can, and they assume everyone does?

  3. Doesn't sound too confusing to me. You show up, contribute to the community, and want to be a member. They welcome you. What's the point of dragging you in front of someone from the financial committee to discuss whether you should pay $100 or $125. It's not just the small amounts. If someone gives $1000, what benefit would there be to having a confrontational meeting to ask why they didn't give $1250?

    The only problematic thing I see is that the form sounds insensitively worded. Assuming a synagogue is charging dues based on income, the better way is to list the recommended conversions and ask people to give the appropriate amount based on their income without making them check a box specifying their income. They could make it even more explicit by saying no one is turned away from membership for inability to pay. These are voluntary donations that are built on trust anyway. If someone could theoretically afford $1250, but wants to give $1000, there's not much a synagogue could do anyway.

  4. It's all a mystery to me. They were 'suggesting' I contribute about 2.5% of our gross income which doesn't sound like much, but which is also equal to my entire grocery-and-paper-and-toiletries budget for a quarter of the year. Anyhow. As long as nobody assaults me about it, we're all good. And I'll mend stuff.


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