Training puts UHC in the mix for Sacred Places grant

UHC is one of 10 historic congregations selected for the first year of Sacred Places Indiana, an Indiana Landmarks project that offers training in landmark stewardship, community engagement and fundraising.

Indiana Landmarks selected UHC as a small congregation with a historic building — Temple Israel — and offered training that can help congregations “identify, cultivate and leverage new relationships in order to restore infrastructure, recruit supporters and revitalize community,” according to the UHC Annual Meeting report from May 2016.

A six-member team from UHC, including Herschel Chait, Jo Einstandig, Betsy Frank, Laney Meis, Scott Skillman and Terry Fear, participated in four training sessions during a nine-month period that put UHC in position to apply for a $5,000 SPI grant. Here is the team’s report about their experiences:

Sacred Places Indiana New Dollars/New Partners Training

Module I

Crafting a case statement for United Hebrew Congregation put our SPI team in touch with the hundred-plus years of the Wabash Valley Jewish Community and its Reform and Orthodox congregations. That these two congregations could merge successfully put our team’s work into an appropriate context: six diverse UHC members could, indeed, collaborate and build a case for our Temple Israel synagogue.

SPI has shown us what we have, not just for the Jewish population, but for everyone.

Being overwhelmed gave way to intentional conversations and serious collaboration, even when it was via emails and phone calls. And still, there is that overwhelming realization of the significant history and contributions of past UHC members and our responsibility to preserve and honor that.

Needing to edit and craft for a unique audience outside of the United Hebrew Congregation diaspora was an eye-opener: that new partners really did mean new partners. Our case statement can now be selectively used for a variety of audiences. And condensing the case statement into an executive summary comes close to giving us our “elevator pitch.” So, we have been continually refining and honing our story: not only do we now truly know who we are, but we know why we are who we are.

Restoration of the Temple Israel synagogue of United Hebrew Congregation was our priority for applying to be part of the SPI cohort. We knew we had an historical and architectural treasure, but we didn’t know how to preserve it for the Jewish Community and we didn’t know how to use it to make it a valuable resource for the larger community. SPI has shown us what we have, not just for the Jewish population, but for everyone.

Module II

Asset mapping was truly a worthwhile experience. The UHC board and congregants were involved in examining and mapping the gifts of individuals, associations, and institutions. It was encouraging to see enthusiastic participation from leadership and membership.

We realize our small congregation does not have to solely rely on ourselves, but that we have community resources which have been developed through years of being active in Terre Haute.

We realize our small congregation does not have to solely rely on ourselves, but that we have community resources which have been developed through years of being active in Terre Haute. The SPI team has categorized and analyzed those assets that are developed or that are in various stages of development. There are exciting possibilities that we recognized because of our training.

Module III

Based on Giving America, which monitors philanthropy trends, most giving comes from individuals and one-third of recipients are religious organizations. UHC will use the case statement, condensed into an executive summary, as our “foundation” for becoming one of those recipients. Yet, that personal relationship with and emotional connection between the potential donor and United Hebrew Congregation is vital.

Most giving comes from individuals and one-third of recipients are religious organizations.

A building assessment must be completed so that the synagogue’s specific needs, cost of repairs and the order of repairs are determined before fundraising can begin. UHC is ready to conduct the building assessment.

Fundraising really is two-pronged. First, UHC must work with the building assessment and the architect to know our synagogue and its needs. Of equal importance, UHC must analyze ourselves and our perceived role in the community. The depth of restoration and preservation is greater than grant writing and contractors — it involves the congregation.

Module IV

Community support for UHC will create new money for our synagogue’s restoration. A majority of new money may not come from grants, but from individual donors, including former members, founding families, and community members who support our building.

UHC intends “to move from a cycle of scarcity to a cycle of abundance”

However, through the Online Foundation Directory, we can find faith-based and/or private foundations that share UHC’s mission or value our history or architecture. Possible matches through Jewish foundations, foundations that focus on senior accessibility or a particular architectural feature (like our half-dome skylight or stained glass windows) can be researched and approached.

UHC intends “to move from a cycle of scarcity to a cycle of abundance” where enthusiastic relationships will encourage people to be part of our work.

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