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From category archives: In Trust Blog

Administration

How can you foster board engagement?



“No school can afford a board that is unaccountable, uncreative, and uncooperative.” This was the driving idea behind Eugene F. Roop’s article “Board governance can be accountable, creative, and cooperative: three ways of understanding the board’s work,” published in a 2011 issue of In Trust.

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Protect yourself from cyber threats




Staff of the In Trust Center recently attended a webinar on cyber security for nonprofit organizations. The webinar was provided by the Delaware Small Business Development Center and presented by Michelle Wang, assistant director of information security administration for the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church. Although the webinar was presented for an audience of Delaware nonprofits, the information provided is pertinent to any organization that would like to improve their cyber security efforts.

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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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A dissertation review: “Work-Life Balance of Women Leaders in ATS” by Kelly Campbell





“Work-Life Balance of Women Leaders in the Association of Theological Schools,” Kelly Campbell’s 2015 doctoral thesis, addresses an important question: how do female seminary administrators handle the relationship between their profession and their personal lives? This is a question often raised about professional women in particular, a fact that has generated some controversy.

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Selecting an effective leader



What are the qualities that make an effective seminary leader? Auburn’s Center for the Study of Theological Education set out to answer just that question in their study titled Leadership that Works. In this study, the research team found that the essential characteristics of high-performing leaders are personal strength, humility, interpersonal skills, and discipline. But in selecting a new president, how do you know whether a candidate possesses all of these qualities or whether a candidate will fit in with your institution’s culture and values?

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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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Creating an effective mission statement



The mission statement of a nonprofit organization is an invaluable tool. It relays the purpose and values of the organization to stakeholders and serves as a reminder to the board and staff of what they are trying to accomplish. As such, it’s important for an organization’s mission statement and its purpose to align.

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The priority of governance in really tough times


 

The In Trust Center recently presented a webinar on governance strategies for difficult times.

Barbara Wheeler and Daniel Aleshire shared some best practices and areas of improvement that can lead to institutional stability: setting terms and term limits for board members, evaluating and orienting boards, selecting board members with the appropriate skill sets, and attracting new members of different cultures and ages. Wheeler stressed the importance of engaged governance, balancing support of the president with prioritizing the institutional mission.



 

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How do you say “thanks” to faculty?



 

While it’s important to thank faculty and show appreciation for their hard work and dedication, it’s not always feasible to demonstrate this appreciation through salary increases. When budgets are already tight, it may be impossible to accommodate the extra costs.

This doesn’t mean, however, that there's no way to thank faculty. Instead, it means that seminary leaders may need to get creative. A few years ago, In Trust published an article with some ways to say “thank you” when money is tight.

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Social media strategies for good times and bad


The In Trust Center recently presented a webinar on social media to an audience of theological seminaries across the United States and Canada. 

The Center's vice president for communication, Jay Blossom, shared the webinar hosting duties with Leanne Van Dyk, president of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. 

Together they provided guidance on cultivating an authentic, trusted voice on social media platforms in “normal” times -- and then employing this voice to communicate during crises. Van Dyk relayed her experiences in developing a social media strategy during her first year at Columbia Seminary.


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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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    Understanding the graduate programs that shape faculty


    In a 2011 In Trust article, Helen Blier addressed the need for boards to understand both their own graduate programs and the programs from which their faculty come. This was in response to the economic recession that resulted in rising student debt and a grim job market. Although we are five years out from this article, and the economy has gradually improved, the point that Blier makes is still significant — boards should understand the programs that shape faculty.  


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    Graduation gap remains between black and white students


    New research about the graduation rate disparity between black and white students is highlighted in a March 2016 article in Inside Higher Ed.


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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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    Seminary president featured in Christian Century cover story


     

    Central Baptist Theological Seminary president Molly T. Marshall was interviewed for the cover story of a recent issue of The Christian Century. The interview, by David Heim, addresses Marshall’s opinions and experiences as president.  


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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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    One perspective on tenure

     

    In a recent Christian Century blog post, Greg Carey provides a defense of tenure at theological institutions. He begins his post by acknowledging that in times of change and financial unrest, theological schools may be tempted to rely principally on adjunct faculty. After all, tenured faculty cost more --and some may be resistant to institutional changes. But Carey argues against the move toward adjunct faculty.

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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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    Need to know: Explaining board governance

    In conversations on campus, Ithaca College trustees were surprised that many of the people had no idea how the board fits into the governance of the school. In response, the trustees penned an article.

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    The real gift in fundraising

     

    The hardest thing is admitting what you don’t know. Tell It Like It Is: Truisms of Fundraising, by T. Christian Rollins, is a slim volume that delivers answers for building your institution's fundraising capacity.

    Shooting straight from the hip, Rollins offers advice that will set new development staff on the right path for successful fundraising, but also challenge the assumptions of seasoned development professionals.

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    Connecting the dots between the board and the library



    At most institutions, the relationship between board members and the library is mediated through the administration. In an informal survey of 35 library directors, In Trust found that most have little direct contact with board members. Twenty-four library directors said that they never have contact with their school’s board members outside their board meetings. And 19 of the 35 said they have never submitted a formal report to their board.

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    The long arm of history: Understanding the past helps decision-making today

     

    When I was in seminary, I remember a professor telling a class that when new pastors arrive at a church, they are directly affected by the last 30 years of that church’s history. If the pastor of 20 years ago ran off with the organist, the current pastor needs to know about it. The congregation certainly knows about it. If there was a church split at some point, the whole town probably knows about it. In light of this, our professor strongly recommended getting as complete a history as possible early in the interview process. Pastors need to know up front what can be changed, what can be worked around, and whether they have the skills to manage that ministry. Institutions of theological education are no different. . . .

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    Operational and educational models in theological education

    How might we affirm or challenge the funding and operational assumptions that undergird theological education?

     

    I believe it is important for theological schools to think critically about their operational and educational models. We have not adequately addressed several issues that have been present for many years within theological education. 

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    Selling the seminary -- statistics and all


    As seminary leaders engage with donors, many find a reluctance about investing in theological education. North America’s changing religious landscape means that there are fewer people in the pews, at least in many churches. A growing number of seminaries is recruiting potential students, but the absolute number of seminarians has remained essentially flat over the last 20 years. Furthermore, the prohibitive cost of the traditional master of divinity degree can all lead potential donors to question whether their gift might be better given elsewhere.

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    Upcoming webinar from ATS: Theological Education 2015: State of the Industry

     

    On Friday, September 18, 2015, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) will present a free webinar entitled Theological Education 2015: State of the Industry. ATS Executive Director Dan Aleshire will “provide a broad overview of what the latest data are telling us about enrollment, financial issues, faculty, and more.”

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