Success Stories

Chicago Sinai Congregation

Positioned to Meet Their Goals and Build for Their Future

Who they are

Operating since 1861, Chicago Sinai Congregation is Chicago’s first Reform Jewish Congregation. Home to more than 800 member households, including millennials and baby boomers, young families and retirees, LGBTQ individuals and interfaith families, Sinai is at the forefront of liberal, modern Reform Judaism. As current membership models are no longer sustainable for Jewish congregations around the country, Sinai retained Evolve consultants to develop a fundraising strategy focused on annual giving and major gifts to help increase philanthropic revenue and create infrastructure for a successful fundraising program.

The Impact

Evolve team members helped Chicago Sinai create an infrastructure and strategy for a formal fundraising program. An annual campaign plan is in place, with specific goals and timeline; leadership has received training on their role in the campaign, and they have a clear understanding of the case for giving; there is a new donor database and clear processes for gift acknowledgement and donor recognition; and senior leadership has a prospect list and strategies for major gift outreach and solicitations. Heading into a new year, Chicago Sinai is in a strong position to meet their goals and build for their future.

Key Project Elements
  • Created a governance committee to recommend and implement board policies and procedures
  • Coordinated all unrestricted giving under an umbrella, supported by a clearly defined case for giving
  • Implemented the organization’s most successful year end appeal, with a 300% increase over the previous year
  • Partnered with key leadership to identify and build strategies around top donors and prospects, laying the groundwork for a major giving program
  • Set qualitative and quantitative fundraising goals and developed an annual campaign plan for the coming fiscal year
Services Provided
  • Fundraising assessment
  • Annual campaign planning
  • Major gifts
  • Board development
  • Development communications

How We Work Together

After conducting a full assessment of Sinai’s fundraising efforts, the consultants shared four key strategic recommendations: Expand and formalize the role of the board as leaders in building a culture of philanthropy; Organize fundraising activities under one umbrella supported by a development calendar, donor recognition/stewardship plan and major gifts program; Develop a year-round communications strategy to educate and engage the community, including multiple touch points for current and potential donors; and Build a staff team to manage and support a fundraising program, supported by a new donor database to record, track and report on donor and fundraising activity.

“Through our consultant's initial evaluation, we came to realize that we needed to be more intentional about our acknowledgement and recognition procedures. Thanks to the Evolve team's hands-on guidance and organization, Sinai’s end of year appeal was by far the most successful ever… On behalf of Chicago Sinai’s Board of Directors, I am most grateful for all that we have accomplished with the help of the Evolve team.”