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When institutional mission and individuals’ calls converge, the miraculous happens,” wrote Rebekah Burch Basinger in a 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.



Basinger's thesis was that boards have not often seen giving as a calling, and that changing the way boards think can yield fruitful results. If boards begin to think of generosity as an extension of their faith, they will change the way they go about fundraising. 

For a school’s donor circle to begin to see generosity as a calling, boards must first set the example. Basinger provided a number of ways that boards can do this:

  • Calibrate fundraising goals to the ability of the school’s constituent base. It’s important for boards to set fundraising goals that are attainable. Setting goals that are not feasible can lead to strong-arming donors into giving more than they are comfortable with, and this is no way to build lasting relationships with donors.
  • Respond to God’s call to generous giving with their own gifts. While Basinger doesn’t advise setting a minimum giving expectation for board members, she stresses the importance of all board members giving according to their own means.
  • Develop holistic measures of success in fundraising. In order to measure and demonstrate success, boards must develop tracking methods for anticipated outcomes.
  • Safeguard the integrity of the mission. “Supporters of the school want tangible evidence that their gifts are making a difference,” Basinger writes. Boards must provide this evidence to donors for the sake of accountability and transparency.

Using these suggestions, boards can begin changing the donor narrative – that giving is not an obligation but a calling.

Do you agree that giving is a divine calling? If so, how have you seen this manifested in theological institutions?

If you have an online In Trust account, you can access Basinger’s article on generosity

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Called to the Chair: Board Leadership for Unsettled Times


Dr. Rebekah Basinger addresses the opportunities and challenges that come with chairing the board of a theological school, which include how to design effective board meetings, enhance board member engagement, and develop the board for long-term effectiveness, while giving attention to the board chair and president partnership and the critical importance of call in both roles.

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