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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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Tips, strategies, and things to avoid as you plan your next board meeting




Cross-posted from Rebekah Burch Basinger's blog, Generous Matters. 

“If it weren’t for the meetings, serving on this board would be a joy. I’m all in on the mission, but one more rambling, mind-numbing agenda and I’m out of here!”

I hear variations on this lament too often from board members bored out of their minds by meetings to nowhere. Perhaps you’ve said as much yourself, which is unfortunate considering that a board is only a board when the members gather in official session.

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Will someone state that as a motion?



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

Motions are the primary means by which a governing board provides directions to the CEO and other staff, so you’d think considerable care would go into shaping them. But think again. Many board motions are created on the fly, and that can lead to problems for the CEO who later tries to implement the board's actions.

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Influence of presidents rises



The influence of seminary presidents in decision making has substantially increased over the last decade, while that of faculties and denominations has decreased. At the same time, board influence remains unchanged. 

These findings were discussed in “Who’s in Charge? Effective Decision Making in a Time of Crisis and Fundamental Change,” a January 21 webinar jointly sponsored by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and the In Trust Center.

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Assumptions underlying board culture



The latest issue of Trusteeship magazine features an article by Richard Chait on the topic of board culture and how it affects board efficacy. In the article, “The Bedrock of Board Culture,” Chait argues that, too often, boards do not examine the underlying assumptions that define their board’s culture.

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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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Good board hunting




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

Topping the list of frequently asked board-related questions that come my way is how to fill empty board seats with quality recruits. With nonprofits proliferating at breakneck speed, competition for board members is keen. Throw in expectations like competent, committed, and/or generous and you might as well be chasing Bigfoot. There ain’t no such creature out there — or so seems.

Fortunately, there is.

 

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A guide to board portals



 

Conducting board business requires organization and collaboration. Board members receive a vast amount of information in anticipation of board meetings, and often they have to take care of additional business between meetings. Some boards are turning to digital options for organizing, collaborating, and disseminating information.

Boards may need tools for assisting in this move to digital business. 

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The value of classroom tech: A professor chimes in

 

Technology has made every area of human endeavor better, or at least more productive, and it seems downright curmudgeonly these days to say otherwise. We all agree with that. . . right?


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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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