From category archives: In Trust Blog


Are your board members active fundraisers?

In 2014, Karen Stiller asked Elizabeth L. Visconage and Joseph Molyneaux to share their thoughts about a resource from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, A Fundraising Guide for Nonprofit Board Members by Julia I. Walker. Their years of experience with boards and fundraising are readily apparent as Visconage and Molyneaux comment on some of the major points in Walker’s book. A key question that guided the conversation: Is it realistic to expect all board members to be active fundraisers?


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Two to tango: Insights from a partnership

In the May issue of Colloquy, the online newsletter from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), two representatives from Andover Newton Theological School and Yale Divinity School offer some reflections on Andover Newton’s transition from a freestanding theological school to an embedded seminary.

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The ministry of fundraising

I once heard it said that board members find fundraising to be the least appetizing of their responsibilities. Few people are comfortable asking another for money, but without fundraising, few of our theological schools would survive.

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Leveraging the power of Facebook

By now, we all know the vast reach that Facebook has across the globe, and many are aware of how powerful a tool Facebook can be for nonprofits and educational institutions to engage with constituents and potential donors.

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Sobering statistics, paths to the future

In the New Year 2014 issue of In Trust, Greg Henson and Gary Hoag provided data on charitable giving. Their conclusions, and their advice to schools, are still timely.


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How can a seminary react to financial stress?

Unanticipated financial setbacks sometimes become little deficits. And the response to little deficits can shape the course of a school’s future. What are the options? 

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When it comes to development, the personal touch might just be the Midas touch

What can board members, who have a big role to play in development, do to make fundraising more productive and, dare we hope, less onerous?

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New Year 2018 issue is now available

The New Year 2018 issue of In Trust magazine was recently mailed and is now available to read online.

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Fundraising is too important to leave to the amateurs

With less financial support for theological education from churches and denominations, theological schools have come to increase fundraising to balance the budget. School presidents and board members are expected to play a big role in raising funds for their institutions.

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Anonymous donors: What’s a board to do?

For seminaries and theological institutions, how a school fulfills its mission is as important as its financial health. As such, issues of transparency and accountability should be considered when deciding whether to accept an anonymous donation.

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Highlights from In Trust's Autumn 2017 issue, available now

The Autumn 2017 issue of In Trust was recently mailed  to subscribers and is now available online. Click "Read the rest of entry" for highlights.

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Calculating the "public value" of your school

Sometimes a theological school must communicate its worth to a larger community -- perhaps as part of an outreach effort or in an appeal to donors. In these instances, it’s helpful for school leadership to make the case for the institution's value to the community. A few years ago, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary conducted an economic impact study and was subsequently able to quantify its value after local residents expressed concern that the seminary was not giving enough to the community. In addition to actual dollar amounts given, the seminary also calculated the value of residents employed by the school, hours volunteered, and benefits not easily quantified, such as diversity. As a result, not only was the school able to communicate its worth, but they also developed stronger town-gown relationships.

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The board's role in cultivating generosity


When institutional mission and individuals’ calls converge, the miraculous happens,” says Rebekah Burch Basinger in her 2010 In Trust article, “Giving as a response to God’s call.” Basinger was referring to the role theological school boards can play in reframing giving as a calling from God.


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Transformational philanthropy means engagement with prospective donors

“Transformational philanthropy” was the focus of a December 6 webinar sponsored by the In Trust Center and presented by Aimée Laramore, director of advancement at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis and owner/lead consultant at ALlyd Solutions.

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6 things you need to know about fundraising

Cross-posted from Rebekah Burch Basinger's excellent blog, Generous Matters, where you can read her original post. 

“How can we get more people to support our organization? We’re working hard but not seeing the results we need.”

The caller’s frustration was palpable — and familiar. Over the years, I’ve been asked variations of his question by countless CEOs and board members. Short on cash and time, ministry leaders are on the hunt for the answer to their organization’s fundraising woes.

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Saying "no" to a donor gift

Sometimes it makes sense to turn down a gift. That's what Dorothy Ridings warned in a 2010 article titled "Recipient beware!" that appeared in In Trust.

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You, too, can learn to love fundraising

The theme of the Harvard Business Review article is networking. However, the quoted comments from reluctant business schmoozers ring familiar to the way fundraising-adverse nonprofit folk talk about asking for money.

Uncomfortable, phony, distasteful, a necessary evil, feels slimy.

I’ve heard them all, including from ministry leaders who claim to have accepted the good news of fundraising as ministry.

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Developing and maintaining effective dashboards


A dashboard is a display of key indicators that help institutions steer their activities towards their declared strategic outcomes. The imagery, of course, is obvious to anyone who drives a car. Just like the dashboard on your 1981 Ford Fairmont, it’s critical that indicators be visible and the data easy for a user to assimilate. This typically necessitates graphic displays such as graphs, pie charts, or something more creative.

The In Trust has presented a webinar on how to use dashboard effectively. Here's a summary of it, along with a few helpful hints to get you started.


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Special event fundraising, ugh! But if you must . . .

Cross-posted from Rebekah Burch Basinger's excellent blog, Generous Matters. Read her original post here

A flood of emails urged members of a ministry’s Outreach Committee to round-up prizes for the spring bike/walk fundraiser. We’re talking a veritable fundraiser’s dream team — networked, talented, and unafraid to ask big — being “challenged” to chase after everything from free movie passes and ice cream coupons to a $5-$10 gift certificate.  “Or whatever the owner is willing to give.”

It’s a toss-up whether I cry or scream about the colossal waste of volunteer time and connections.

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In Trust magazine – Spring 2016 issue

The Spring 2016 issue of In Trust was recently mailed to subscribers. Here are some of the highlights.

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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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    Annual giving: Is your board doing its part?


    The annual fund is essential, even in institutions with big endowments. In a 2011 article in In Trust, Rebekah Burch Basinger highlighted the steps boards should take to ensure the success of annual giving campaigns.



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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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    Do bequests make a difference?

    Donors make bequests to make a difference after they're gone. Mary Goodman, a New Haven laundress who bequeathed her life savings (nearly $5,000) to Yale Divinity School to provide scholarships for African Americans, was especially successful in this regard: her bequest supported the school’s first black students, and continues to support students today, nearly 144 years later.

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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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