Finding Shul Officers: Beg, Buy or Recycle

Easy-to-Enlist Officer Candidates in Short Supply
Experience and discussions with people in Shuls indicates that about 20% of your member families will be continuously active in running the Shul. If your Shul has 100 member families, you will have approximately 20 active families to fill 4 officer positions: president, vice president, treasury and secretary. After a few years you will run out of easy-to-enlist officer candidates. What do you do then?

The first method to fill your officer slots is to ask people who have not been active to get more involved. A certain amount of people will respond positively if asked by the right person, at the right time, in the right way. Many will say no. We can’t blame them. People are very busy with their jobs and family and it’s not an easy exercise to determine how to allocate one’s “free” time. You may achieve more success in this avenue if the members of the selection/begging committee were officers themselves at some point. I would also recommend putting some thought into how to respectfully ask the potential officer.

If you’re not successful on the beg, anther options is to buy. One type of buying involves offering officers some sort of financial incentive such as reduced membership. The problem with this is the importance of community service is diminished and the question of why some people receive incentives and some don’t is explicitly or implicitly raised. Another type of buying is outsourcing secretarial, financial functions and making those officer positions directorial rather than operational.

Another option to fill your open slots is to recycle past officers. It’s not uncommon for a past treasurer or secretary to accept a post as vice-president or president. Another variation is when a person accepts a position year after year. As I mentioned in a previous post, our Shul has 4 treasurers, and 3 of them are perennials.

The biggest recycling question is whether to recycle presidents. On one hand, the President can be a very demanding job and asking them to do it more than once requires thought and discussion. On the other hand, the set of managerial, leadership and personality traits necessary for an effective president are hard to find, so the pool of candidates is even smaller than the pool for the other officer positions.

Finding Shul Officers is not easy, so thanks to all those who have served, and hopes for those who haven’t to seriously consider getting more involved.

First Published Nov 20, 2013