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CBI Financial Update

07/07/2023 11:00:01 AM


CBI Leadership

Dear CBI Members and Friends,

We are writing today to provide you with an update on our financial status at CBI. Those of you who attended the annual meeting a few weeks ago are aware that we are currently in a challenging financial environment. At our last Board meeting, we passed a budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year that we believe is a responsible and balanced budget based upon the realities of our current revenue and expenses. It required some difficult decisions.

Over the last few years, our expenses have outpaced our revenue and we have been able to maintain our level of programming by using up cash reserves and one-time funding from grants and covid relief funds. We can no longer count on these funds and need to budget based on our ongoing annual revenue streams. The budget for fiscal year 2024 requires some cuts in hours to administrative staff. It also means we cannot fund an interim rabbi for this year. As noted in our previous letter, our current talented senior staff members, Rabbis Jacob Fine and Ariella Rosen have generously agreed to step in and fill our rabbinical needs for the coming year. We are committed to hiring a rabbi for the following year, but it will require a substantial increase in annual revenue going forward. 

Our kehila (community) has grown tremendously over the last few years—in membership, physical footprint, educational programming for adults, preschoolers, students, and teens, and farm initiatives. We’ve hired additional staff and met other increased expenses to support this growth, increasing our budget by 50% in four years. During this time, we have not raised dues, nor have we restricted our programs to members only. Revenue from dues and other donations have not kept pace with what is needed to support our programming. Now is the moment to shift our focus away from program growth and instead stabilize our yesod (foundation), in order to assure long-term financial health and community stability.  

To do this we will need the help of all of our members and friends to join in supporting our beloved community. As a first step, we encourage members to take a close look at the budget information below this letter, as well as your dues explanation letter coming out soon, for a better understanding of our finances and how we’re hoping to grow CBI in the years to come. We realize that we have a very diverse membership with different levels of financial capacity. Over the next year, we will be asking all of you, our members and friends, to look deeply at what our thriving CBI community means to you and to try to stretch your contributions in the best way that you are able. If you still owe dues for 2022-2023, click here to make your annual contribution now.

Barbara Black and Stan Schapiro, Co-Presidents
Emily Kieval, Executive Director

Here is some information about our financial structure:

CBI is a not-for-profit institution that now has an annual budget of about $1.8 million. It is home to a USCJ-affiliated synagogue, a licensed preschool program and Abundance Farm. Our budget supports all aspects of our extensive list of programs, including full- and part-time professional staff, maintenance of our campus buildings and grounds and all the administrative work that keeps us going. This year, without an interim rabbi, 83% of our budget will go towards personnel salaries and benefits. 

Here’s a breakdown of our expenses by program.  (FY 2024 Budget): 

And here is where the money comes from (FY 2024 Budget):

Notice that tuition and fees cover only a portion of program costs. For example, ALMA religious school tuition pays for about half of the direct costs of running that program.

Our member dues cover about 30% of the total costs in our current budget. Some members pay standard dues, some pay more, and some pay less. Some join our Sustainers Program and  commit to contributing at least $500 or more each year beyond their regular dues. The rest of our income comes from annual fundraising, program fees and grants. Finally, we are fortunate to have some modest endowment funds that are used to support various programs and the operating budget. 

Going forward, we are committed to transparency about our budget and financial health. The Board voted to form two committees: the Revenue Review Committee to look at all aspects of our funding, including dues structure, donations, and annual giving; and the Expense Committee to look at how to track and manage program, staff and maintenance expenses. Both committees will make recommendations to the Board and the CBI leadership team over the next few months. We will communicate their findings and recommendations, to you, our community, regularly throughout the year. 

Please feel free to join our next open forum, “What’s Cool at Shul” to be scheduled soon. In addition feel free to contact any of us. 

Sun, April 14 2024 6 Nisan 5784