There’s a saying in the sales world that goes something like: “80% of your sales come from 20% of your sales force.” It’s called the 80/20 rule, and I have found that this basic principle can be seen in more than just businesses. For small volunteer based organizations: Nonprofits, Churches, Synagogues, etc., 80% of the work of the organization is done by 20% of the volunteers or members.
Many organizations, whether profit or nonprofit, try to overcome this ratio by getting more volunteers, more donors, more members, but the ratio tends to hold. If you have an organization of 10 people, 2 or 3 will handle most of the work. If you double the group to 20 people, 4 or 5 will do most of the work. While 2 or 3 could handle the expense and work load for a group of 10, a group of 20 may require an amount of funds and time that 4 or 5 people cannot handle.
For Example: Imagine the scenario of 20 people meeting together for Prayer once per week. Maybe 12-15 of that group would be in attendance weekly. 4 people take the brunt of most of the responsibility by offering their houses as meeting places. The only financial costs are food and book related, easily shared among the group. $100 per week may do it. $5,000 per year shared among 15-20 people. The group grows to 50-60 people over time. Eventually, there is a need for a regular meeting place, and with that comes the added costs of maintenance, insurance, utilities, etc. The group offers programs for children and needs volunteers to run the programs and educate them. The group wishes to employ leadership in the form of a part time clergy. Now we add salaries, travel expenses, etc. into the mix. The size of the group has tripled but the expenses for the group have increased 10-12 fold. The community finds itself in a strange place.
The community effectively needs 16 people who volunteer at the same level the original 4 did above. The costs have grown from a $250 commitment per member to a $1000 or more. The time commitment has increased from a few hours a week to 20 hours or more per week. However, if the community kept growing to 100 people without having to increase its building costs it would achieve a potential equilibrium with its cost structure. Now the community has 100 members, 60-70 of meeting together weekly. 20 Volunteers are needed to effectively run the organization and around $100,000 is needed to keep the community thriving. With 100 members the commitment per members is equalized.
What am I getting at? We are the basis for the community above and we are in that strange place I describe. In addition, while a few years back we had grown to 70 members (A member could be a single person or a family), we are now in the low 50’s for membership. The answer is more people, and not for the sake of more money, but to equalize the responsibility of the community and to build a stronger foundation for a thriving Jewish Community for the years and decades to come.
That means we have to honestly begin to look at why we are no longer growing? Is it because there are no Jews in the area? Is it because we are in a Military town and too many people are coming and going to ever stay and put down roots? Is it because we aren’t very visible in the community? Is it because the services we offer aren’t relevant to the next generation? Is the cost of membership too high compared to the benefits received? Do we need to change our perception in the community?
Whether you know it or not, these questions, and the decisions about the future of your Jewish community are being made. Every week. Every month. Every year that goes by without our efforts to grow, we run the risk of watching it slip away. As I have said before, if we find things to be valuable and of importance, we will find the time, the energy, and the resources to make them happen.
This community needs you. Your time. Your Resources. Your Energy. 16-20 people can be the difference in our area for generations to come. Will you be one of the 20%?