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From category archives: In Trust Blog

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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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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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    All Saints Day: Gratitude and inspiration


    For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
    Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
    Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
    Alleluia, Alleluia!

    I love All Saints Day. I love the exercise of reflecting back on those who have come before us and the challenges they faced and the difference they made. As I look back in my family, community, congregation, denomination, and the organizations with which I work, it becomes clear that we really are standing on the shoulders of giants -- everyday saints who made a tremendous difference for me personally and for the institutions I serve and the community in which I live.

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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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    Online course design: A conversation with Roxanne Russell

     

    Recently Amy Kardash (Director of Programs at the In Trust Center) chatted with Roxanne Russell (Director of Online Learning at Candler School of Theology) about the In Trust Center’s upcoming webinar, Online Course Design.

    The following is a peek into their conversation about the upcoming webinar, especially focused on the question, "Why does this topic matter to board members and administrators?"

     

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    Online course design: Why it should matter to you

     

    Online Course Design. It’s probably not something that most board members or administrators consider, and yet it is the topic of the In Trust Center’s next webinar.  

    What does online course design have to do with the governance and leadership of theological schools? Amy Kardash, the In Trust Center’s director of programs, tells us more about this webinar and why it is relevant to the work of our readers.

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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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    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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    Who is your most strategic partner?

    First, throw out the “M-word.” Mergers scare people, so most schools are approaching partnerships in terms of new models of collaboration. A merger gives people the perception that there are winners and losers, but collaborations open up space for creativity and exploration: “If we were to imagine a future together, what might that look like?” 


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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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    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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    When she was good, she was very, very good...

    …but when she was bad, she was horrid.

    Apologies to Longfellow for appropriating his poem for the title of this post (“There was a little girl”), but his verse keeps coming to mind as I consider the topic of the misbehaving board member.

    Our friends at the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) recently published a two-part series on “Annoying Boardroom Habits.” In Trust has covered this ground, too, in a pair of articles that share what to do “When Board Members Behave Badly.”

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    Seeking a say in the naming of a new president, monks sue trustees



    There’s governance trouble brewing at Benedictine University in Illinois
    : The monks of St. Procopius Abbey, which owns the school, are suing the trustees for shutting them out of the selection of the new president. According to a recent article in Inside Higher Ed, the monks claim that the abbey’s leadership has always played a role in the selection of the president -- ever since the first nonclerical president was selected 40 years ago.

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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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