Client: Congregation Beth Shalom
Services: Fundraising Management
For years, actually decades, the members and leadership of Congregation Beth Shalom questioned whether the synagogue’s downtown Wilmington home should be relocated or renovated. While several circumstances seemed to delay a decision being made, including some indecisiveness among the membership, the one thing most everyone agreed about was that something needed to be done. With a rapidly declining physical structure that included multiple stairwells that made it impossible for people in wheel chairs or babies in strollers to get around, outdated and uncomfortable seating in the sanctuary, multiple building entrances that compromised security, and systems that were on their last leg, a decision to explore the possibility of relocating was made at a board retreat in October, 2003.
Upon completion of a campaign feasibility study which assessed the likelihood of success for a capital campaign to relocate to a new location, the recommendation made by the consulting firm managing the process was that while Beth Shalom members recognized the need for an improved facility, there was significant support for remaining at the 18th and Baynard address. Furthermore, the results of the study indicated the proposed costs of a campaign to purchase property and establish a completely new building would be beyond the congregation’s capacity. With a decision now made to renovate v. relocate, planning committees assessed programmatic needs and a design for a new Beth Shalom was embraced. Estimated costs for the construction and related expenses were $9 million which included the establishment of a capital maintenance endowment fund.
Several months into the campaign, Bloom Metz Consulting agreed to provide management services, picking up where the original firm left off. With an infrastructure already in place and some momentum established, Bloom Metz Consulting quickly jumped in to allow for a seamless transition which was critical at that early stage of the campaign. Although the $9 million campaign goal had not been recommended through the original feasibility study, leadership was determined to move forward.\n\nAnother unique challenge facing the congregation during this campaign was the need to close the building during the year-long renovations. This resulted in religious services being held at the JCC, after-hours Hebrew school at the community’s day school, and moving the administrative offices to a nearby church which opened its doors to accommodate a neighbor. The following year focused on closing major gift pledges, identifying leadership for other committees not yet created, and establishing an overall strategy/timeline to propel the campaign forward into the public phase of the campaign. In September of 2006, the campaign saw a boost in donations with several earlier donors increasing their original commitment after the congregation was able to move back into the newly renovated sanctuary in time for High Holiday services, although the rest of the building would remain off limits for several more months.
As the campaign exceeded $6 million, a gala celebration weekend was held in the spring of 2007 with programs and activities that touched most congregants as well as former congregants, community members and civic leaders. Today, Congregation Beth Shalom members beam when talking about their new building where everyone seems to have a favorite part, whether it be the sun-lit atrium that holds community programs as well as social functions, the modern Hebrew School classrooms featuring a state-of-the-art computer lab, the expanded modern kitchen or even the new entrance which replaces what was a dingy back door entrance. That had certainly not been the first impression Beth Shalom wanted to convey as evidenced by the open and welcoming reception area present today.
Bloom Metz Consulting was proud to help Congregation Beth Shalom go the distance to rebuild and renovate a building that will now serve generations to come.