Mission, Marketing and Media—Inseparable, Invaluable

Posted on: January 26th, 2014 by Hayim Herring



Like many of you, I work with some really smart people, who love what they do, strive to learn from others and passionately share their knowledge in return. The next three posts will be from experts who exemplify these qualities, and I’ve invited them to write about the integral relationship between mission, marketing and media. Our first guest is Daniel Chiat, of Measuring Success, whose organization has rich, unique data on why mission matters. Hope you enjoy these posts!

Rabbi Hayim Herring


Got Mission? It Matters—and Here Are the Data To Prove It!

ChiatDaniel Chiat, Measuring Success


What characteristics of synagogue life predispose members to feel satisfied and to feel that they have personally grown as a Jew? There are certainly many worthy answers, but the two most important aspects both come down to vision.


We’re not guessing at this conclusion; it’s grounded in the analysis of thousands of synagogue members across North America. Over the last five years, we’ve assisted nearly 40 synagogues in using data to create strategic plans and build relationships. We’ve asked over 15,000 congregants to answer questions about their priorities and satisfaction levels. The results indicate that the top drivers of synagogue satisfaction and personal growth are high scores on the following two questions:


  • Do the vision and values of the synagogue resonate with you?
  • Do the vision and values of the clergy resonate with you?


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We know that high scores on these vision questions are the best predictors of satisfaction and personal growth regardless of a synagogue’s location, membership size, or denomination. This is because our database includes synagogues from across the spectrum and everything in between. The data suggests that synagogue leaders should invest energy on vision and values in order to have significant impact on outcomes like member satisfaction, retention, and personal growth.


Knowing your score on vision and values is like knowing your cholesterol level, it is a predictor of your overall health. It needs to be monitored, especially when times are tough and negative symptoms begin to emerge.


Leading synagogues are monitoring and listening to data. For example, in our Chicagoland Synagogue Survey Program, a handful of participating synagogues are focused on vision and values as the area in which they want to show significant progress before surveying their members again—or to keep to the medical analogy, going back for a check-up. This indicates that leadership has recognized the importance of having a vision that resonates with members.


Drawing from another example, one synagogue was already engaged in re-writing its vision statement prior to participating in a membership survey. (Before the survey even began, the synagogue was well on its way to helping members feel like they belonged and were growing spiritually!) Later, survey data confirmed the hypothesis that the creation of a clear and compelling vision statement would resonate and have significant impact on congregants. To create the vision statement, the synagogue had compiled a list of 15-20 congregational characteristics that it believed embodied the ethos of its congregation. The survey data on membership priorities then allowed the synagogue to hone its list of 15 congregational descriptors into a single statement that captured membership’s interest in developing social connections and a tight-knit community: Be a Family.


Leading your synagogue through a challenging time or a strategic planning process is certainly not easy. If it were, it wouldn’t require so much time and thoughtfulness. Our recommendation to synagogue leaders is to be sure to use what you know: having a vision that resonates with your membership is one of the most important factors in growing a meaningful synagogue.


Daniel Chiat, a Director at Measuring Success, has worked extensively with synagogues and manages the company’s independent school clients. You can learn more about Daniel at www.measuring-success.com.


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