The Triumph of Leadership

larchmont temple plaqueWhat do you do when you arrive at the end of your fundraising campaign and you have only raised half your goal?

This was a question that Larchmont Temple confronted. They answered by closing Phase I and began a more detailed plan for Phase II. Could the campaign be revived? Is the money “just not there”? What exactly went wrong the first time?

The congregation had been looking to renovate and expand their facilities. They had only raised sufficient funds to do a small part of the project. As they were in the midst of construction, they contacted Mersky, Jaffe & Associates.

Everyone agreed a feasibility study would likely uncover what went wrong the first time and point the leadership of the community to the right path for this round. However, no one on the congregation’s executive board expected the findings of this study. The distress of the donors in the Phase I was universal. The chasm in communication between leadership and members was deep and wide. The discontent was dispiriting.

MJA shut down the feasibility study with only a third of it completed, and recommended a course of action to redress the negative atmosphere that pervaded the lead donors and prospects.

The congregation implemented the eighteen-month plan and changed tacks completely. The new leadership confronted and overcame the problems that had been uncovered and were impeding progress.

At the end of those eighteen months, they were able to refocus on their original goal: Phase Two of the fundraising plan could commence with restored strength. The measure of success was a 250% achievement over the accomplishments of Phase One: all from individual members of the congregation; many of whom had given to Phase I; all of whom joyfully gave at higher levels than ever before.

What changed in 18 short months? The educational meetings that were held throughout the community definitely helped. The redesign of the marketing materials ensured clearer communications. And, the earnest listening to those who had contributed in the past and who felt ignored was a big part of it.

But, ultimately it was—as it always is–about leadership that transformed the congregation and enabled Phase II to exceed all of its goals and raise $6.1 million. It was the right people undertaking the task, doing what they promised they would do and maintaining accountability among themselves in an environment characterized by a pervasive sense of optimism that created this level of success.

And now, five years since completion of the Phase II campaign, Mersky, Jaffe & Associates continues to serve the leadership of Larchmont Temple. We work with a collective understanding of the value of strong relationships – whether it is for the 700 families in their congregation or the clients in our roster. A methodology that has proven successful for all.