Monday, September 5, 2011

Investing in Bingo

Many synagogues, including mine, have their financial challenges.  There is actually a literature on this, though my sense of the officers is that they really haven't explored this much, opting instead for a quest for fundraising which in a good year may add 5% to revenues though it usually comes with a significant financial risk to get that 5%.   Memberships make the place financially solvent, either in the form of dues or contributions beyond dues.  There is a limit, though, to how much of our own member funds we can wring out, so there is always an interest in getting income from other sources.  Synagogues and churches have rented space in their buildings.  Some have elegant catering facilities that generate a profit.  Some have public events.  Our officers opted for Bingo.  Without  getting into the propriety of this, which the Rabbi approved so it must be OK, its only direct purpose was to generate revenue with perhaps an unintended by important benefit of generating a rather strong group of volunteers dedicated to the project.  It was expected to lose money the first six months, which it did, to the tune of $8 K which required re-examination.

As AKSE projects go, this one seemed to be handled reasonably well.  People did their homework in advance, knew what to expect, analyzed trends, and expanded participation beyond the President's usual A-list people.  Will it ever make money?  What about serious money?  What about the value of having a project that members are committed to for its own sake?  Any indirect benefit to member retention?  My interpretation on these questions is mixed.  It can probably make some modest profit, about what a successful fundraiser would make.  

When all is said and done, there is still a budgetary deficit forecast this year and no serious intervention to erase that, let alone repay what is owed other than Bingo.  Until something else arises, break even with a measure of community development as a beneficial unintended offshoot needs to continue a while longer.

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