Sacred Sites Program

Congregational Assets Roundtable

Congregational Assets Roundtable
Congregational Assets Roundtable

October 24, 2013

Clergy and lay leaders met at Temple Emanu-El on Fifth to discuss asset management, fundraising and deferred maintenance challenges. Nonprofit financial advisors Joseph Matthews and Chris Templeman of Morgan Stanley reviewed the “ABC’s” of planned giving. Author, consultant, and Episcopal priest Rev. Gerald Keucher answered questions such as “Do bequests via 401(k)’s go through probate?” while Templeman related the effectiveness of ongoing marketing of planned giving via simple and subtle but constant reminders – citing his experience at a Boys and Girls Club which included “Please remember us in your will” on the bottom of stationary and in all brochures and publications.

Though participants were from a wide variety of institutions, large and small, endowed and un-endowed, the Q & A session was lively and engaging, with institutions freely sharing, and relating to one another’s fundraising, operational, and investment challenges. Fr. Joseph Girone of St. Nicholas of Tolentine in the University Heights neighborhood of the South Bronx, noted that if his parish had only 130 active members, the number cited in one Morgan Stanley case study, his parish would be closed. Harry Chevan, president of Kane Street Synagogue in Brooklyn, spoke about the need for affordable loan financing for capital projects for congregations with healthy annual incomes, but no endowment funds with which to collateralize bank loans.

Following the event, Chaim Kofinas, of tiny Lower East Side synagogue Kehila Kehosha Janina, wrote:
I want to thank you deeply for the roundtable you cosponsored with Morgan Stanley. The points made address only some of the issues we have but they do provide a starting point for further debate and discussion. As soon as I got home I shot of an email to our board with salient points presented and have already received feedback. What I found most interesting is that despite the differences in religion or denomination the problems are much the same. It makes me feel better knowing we are not alone and that there are others, like the Reverend Jerry, who have crossed this bridge and are stronger for it.

Managing Congregational Assets was limited to 25 participants, and filled quickly, with a long waiting list. We plan to fine-tune the program to incorporate feedback from participants, and hold similar roundtables both upstate and in New York City in the coming year.

September 2013

Sacred Sites New Program To Build Congregational Assets

The Conservancy has assisted hundreds of landmark religious properties with millions in grants and loans, helping fund more than 1200 restoration projects. Hundreds of roofs, towers, masonry facades and stained glass windows have been stabilized and restored—and then what? How can congregations protect their most valuable assets—their historic buildings—and avoid repeated cycles of deferred maintenance, decline, and impending disaster?

The Conservancy will help answer that question with an Asset Management Round table on October 24 at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan. Nonprofit financial advisors from Morgan Stanley and The Rev. Jerry Keucher, an expert on church asset management, will lead the session. With volunteer leadership, religious institutions often lack the financial literacy needed to manage and grow reserve funds. The session will include an overview of annual pledge campaign strategies, planned giving, investment policy statements, asset allocation and monitoring investment performance.

The Roundtable will be attended by leaders of churches and synagogues of many faith traditions, with varying size memberships and operating budgets. The new program has been met with enthusiasm. The first session was fully subscribed within one week.

This will be the first of a series of similar planned programs to be held in the City and upstate.