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Facing your board’s flaws


A well-meaning board can easily drive off course. Whether bogged down by endless meetings or rattled by disgruntled members, how can a board right itself and get back on track?

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Are you recruiting new board members?

If your board is recruiting new members, you may be wondering: Who would make a good candidate? How will new members fit in with existing members? How can I bring in new blood while also maintaining my institution's identity?

On her blog Generous Matters, Rebekah Burch Basinger addressed board recruitment in three blog posts, offering advice and resources on the topic.

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Why you should understand theological school finances


 

If you're a stakeholder at a theological school — especially if you're a board member, administrator, or faculty member — it's vital that you really understand your school’s financial standing, rather than solely relying on the CFO or other financial staff.


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Rapidly approaching deadline for new Luce Foundation fund


The deadline to submit letters of inquiry for the brand-new Luce Fund for Theological Education is March 15. The Henry Luce Foundation is encouraging requests from seminaries and other organizations for amounts of $250,000 to $500,000. A select number of inquirers will be invited to present full proposals.

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Crowdfunding: New trends in fundraising


 

From golf tournaments to galas, big events are tried-and-true tools for raising funds and building relationships in higher education. But recently, some nonprofits have begun turning to "crowdfunding" as a vehicle for finding new friends and donors. Could this latest fundraising trend benefit theological schools?

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From our Resource Library: The Nonprofit Board Answer Book

 

 

Here at the In Trust Center, we talk boards and governance all day, every day. From fielding calls from member schools, to researching and writing articles on boards, board policy, and governance, and even in our work with our own board, we are constantly talking, thinking, reading, and writing about governance and policy.

Over the years, we have developed a library to assist us (and our member schools) in our work. We have many books on boards: board policy, shared governance, the roles of board members, etc. Of all of these, the book that we turn to most often for questions about these topics is a book from BoardSource: The Nonprofit Board Answer Book. Arranged by topic in a Q and A format, with an index at the back, it is easy to find the answers for which we're looking.

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From God's abundance: A resource for fundraisers

From crushing student debt to struggling seminaries to half empty church pews, much of the landscape of seminaries and finances seems bleak. As traditional funding sources change, the need to understand and gain mastery of fundraising is becoming increasingly important for theological schools. Offering research, tools, and customized training, the Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising (ECRF) from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is a bright spot during these challenging times.

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Key takeaways and resources on student debt and finances


 

The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) recently convened a meeting of the participants in the Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers project (ECFFM). ECFFM is aimed at addressing student debt in theological education. Greg Henson, president of Sioux Falls Seminary, shared a presentation at the event, which he has since published on his blog.

Though Henson's presentation doesn't include sound, I gained some great insights by simply reading the presentation as it progresses. Here are the two slides that struck me as especially important.

 

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Faculty at accredited theological schools: By the numbers

Are you curious about how your school’s faculty compares to faculty at other theological schools? Do you know your ration of full- to part-time faculty, or how many have terminal degrees?

Answers to these questions can be found (along with mountains of other data) in the 2014-2015 Annual Data Tables from the Association of Theological School (ATS). Those of us who don’t have time to wade through this 172-page treasure trove can read a two-part summary that unpacks some of the numbers.


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The state of the industry, and how to use ATS data for decision making

 

 

 

In mid-September, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) shared a live webinar entitled 2015 State of the Industry. Daniel Aleshire (executive director of ATS) and Stephen Graham (senior director of programs and services) led a 45-minute presentation on enrollment, faculty, and finances at ATS member schools

ATS has posted the recording on their website, as well as the slides and text of the webinar and links to further resources.

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Back to school: Get inspired with good reading on fundraising

 

 

Gold-tinged leaves and crisp morning air signal the return of fall. But autumn brings more than falling leaves, shorter days, and pumpkin spice; for many, the end of summer means "back to school." If you cannot return to a real-life classroom for a continuing education course, reinvigorate your inner student by diving into some serious reading.

The required reading list for the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving’s Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising (ECRF) course is an insightful dip into the fundamentals of development.

 

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Resources for your board: Books from BoardSource

We love to connect our members with information and resources that encourage good leadership and effective governance. So we keep our eyes open for helpful books and articles that contribute to that goal. Some of our favorite resources are published by BoardSource. Here's a rundown of some of the best.

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Disengaged and problem board members

The start of a new academic year is a great time to examine board structure and composition as well as board member roles and performance. Do you have board members who are unengaged in their work, or some who are unable to devote the time required to being a good board member? You may want to consider moving them into a different role -- or removing them from the board altogether.

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#CharlestonSyllabus: A list of resources

 

Has your school considered how to engage students and other community members around the issues of race and racism?

The following are resources to help you do just that.

 

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The Strategic Information Report: What you need to know

 

Because the SIR has been completely revamped, the Association of Theological Schools has provided an overview article that explains how presidents and board members can use it. “Why the Strategic Information Report is an essential tool in every school’s toolbox,” by Chris Meinzer, explores ways to use the SIR as a tool in assessing their institution's overall health.

 

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Resources for your board: Succession planning

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has published a great article on succession planning for boards, and it includes both an outline of the process and a list of downloadable resources.

What is succession planning? “Succession planning is a means for an organization to ensure its continued effective performance through leadership continuity.” 

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Board communication and collaboration: What are the options?


The practice of sharing materials among the players in shared governance -- that is, members of the board, the administration, and the faculty -- can be challenging. Because the materials cover complex, often confidential issues, the mechanism for sharing must be secure. It also must be straightforward, easy to use, and not too time consuming.

Board portal software can be a great solution to these challenges, but the cost is often prohibitively expensive, especially for small institutions such as theological schools. 

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From the archive: "True North: Orientation is the key for keeping a board on the right course"

A few years ago, In Trust published an article about the importance of getting new board members set up for success through good orientation and thoughtful sharing of materials, information, and policies. You can read the article in its entirety here.

The following checklist is a helpful place to start for new members. And while you’re at it, you might want to ensure that current and seasoned members have this material too.

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Book review: "A Guide to Fundraising at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An All Campus Approach"



A Guide to Fundraising at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An All Campus Approach by Marybeth Gasman and Nelson Bowman III is a comprehensive overview of how historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) can transform their fundraising. As leading authorities on HBCUs, Gasman and Bowman closely examine the unique roles that the school president, board, faculty, alumni, and student body have in capacity building.


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Resources for your board: Dashboards



Dashboards are a great way to track key metrics of your school’s performance. But which metrics should you track? And how do you know if you’re getting -- and sharing -- the numbers that matter?

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Resources for your board: Strategic planning



Strategic planning: it’s something that you know you need to do, but how do you get started?

We've gathered a few articles to help you think about strategic planning, well, strategically. These articles could be fodder for a fruitful discussion with your board and leadership team.


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The board’s responsibility for evaluating the president




"Regular evaluation of presidential performance is among the top responsibilities assigned to boards of theological schools. It is also a task that many board members prefer not to tackle. So they don't."

So begins the In Trust Center's resource guide, The Board's Responsibility for Evaluating the President, a free resource written by governance expert Rebekah Burch Basinger. The guide outlines five principles to consider so that the board and the president can approach the presidential evaluation with confidence and competence.

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