Seminary communities have lived so long with financial stress that many presidents and boards have difficulty imagining anything other than a hand-to-mouth existence. But as the articles in this fundraising segment illustrate, the future does not have to — indeed, should not — mirror the past for theological education.
In those institutions where board members and administrators start the New Year with resolutions to do things differently, change can and will follow — if promises are kept and best intentions translated into action. This may mean reining in spending, beefing up the annual fund, focusing on endowment, launching a capital campaign, checking assumptions about students' ability to pay, or tracking institutional performance in comparison to that of peer institutions.
Specific to the board members' role in fundraising, there are four resolutions that will serve every board — and their schools — well. In 2005, seminary boards should focus on
pumping up their collective fundraising muscles,
cutting back on excuses for not getting involved with development efforts,
exercising their asks on behalf of the school, and
working as a team toward mission achievement and economic vitality.
And remember: change doesn't come quickly — for individuals or institutions. In the end, persistence in pursuing the board's goal of a brighter future for the theological school is the most important resolution of all.
Read the other articles in the New Year 2005 fundraising series:
More than a lovely dream
Some short thoughts on long term financial security
The power of peer learning: Summary report from an eight-school study