Knowledge Center

The Knowledge Center provides you access to hundreds of documents including policies,
procedures and a wealth of research on topics such as charitable gifts, expense
reimbursements, board governance, fringe benefits and much more.
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This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.
“Good Is the Enemy of Great”

When great board experiences end, they should be lamented.

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10 Most Common Board Shortcomings

What governance shortcomings have you discerned in Christ-centered organizations and churches?

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10 Questions to Ask Before Joining a Board

CEOs and board members are asking for more help on board member recruitment strategies.

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2 Big Differences: Decision-making and Conflict Resolution

There is a difference between how a "secular" board governs and how a "Christ-centered" board governs

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27 years — 27 Board Chairs!

How will you inspire and remind your board members (and especially your board chair) to view their colleagues around the table as part of a parade, not a crowd?

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3 Governance Missteps

What other governance missteps could be obstacles to accomplishing God’s plan for our ministry?

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3-Point Talk: Right, Wrong, or Inappropriate

What are we doing year-round to ensure that we are recruiting the “right composition” of men and women onto our board?

 

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5 Technology Advances for Governance Excellence

This document, authored by Vonna Laue and Michael Martin, offers five strategies some churches and ministries utilize to reap the benefits of technological advances.

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6 Board Dysfunctions

What delightful dysfunctions are your board members bringing to your board process?

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7 Board Disciplines and 6 Risks

How effective, and disciplined, is your board in assessing risk?

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7 Questions to Measure Your Board’s Engagement Level

Of the four phases of board member recruitment (cultivation, recruitment, orientation, and engagement), the most critical is engagement.

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7 Reasons Why Strategic Pans Fail

Proverb 16:3 says, “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” What might be the second reason your plans may not succeed?

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A Blunt Board Member Blesses His CEO!

What’s the trust level between the board and the CEO? Is hard truth spoken frequently, sometimes, rarely or never?

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A Board Prayer

“Dear God…Let me tell stories and provide statistics that represent accurately.”

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A Prayer for Competence

As a board member, what is your prayer?

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A Unanimous Choice for the Board Member Hall of Fame

She limits her service to one board at a time.

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Accelerating Board Members to Full Engagement

Proven ideas to accelerate your board members, both new and long-standing, into full service

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Accountability and the Great Commission

Steve Douglass powerfully communicates how accountability supports fulfilling the Great Commission. As Steve suggests, “When people perceive a ministry and its leaders are accountable, they believe in them more.”

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Address Absentee Board Member Syndrome

There are three unhealthy ways that many ministry boards respond to empty chairs at board meetings.

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Advisory Groups for Ministries

Outlines the purposes, benefits, and risks of a nonprofit utilizing an advisory board separate from a governing board

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After Thank You and Good-bye

For a season, board members throw their minds, hearts, and financial resources into the organization, and then they leave. Unless you are intentional about trying to stem the natural progression of things, all those years of service to your charity very quickly fade to a pleasant memory.

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Alert! The ER Factor Causes Value Extraction

Beware of the ER Factor in the boardroom—ego and rivalry.

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Align Board Member Strengths with Committee Assignments

Leverage the three Powerful S’s.

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Apply for a Staff Position and You Can Deal with That Issue

Help board members not to cross the line into operational details.

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Are You Competing Based on Overhead—Really?

Boards should know the back-story on a ministry’s overhead.

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Ask the Gold Standard Question

A “pruning moment” can improve your board meetings.

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Back Off the Ledge of Dysfunctional Mayhem

When dysfunction reigns, healthy board members head for the door.

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Be Intentional About Your First 30 Minutes

Does your board meeting need a refresh—so you experience holy moments more frequently?

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Before the Board Meeting

Collaborate, then wisely build the board meeting agenda.

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Begin With the End in Mind

If you begin with the end in mind, you’ll likely build deeper relationships and help board members leverage their strengths and spiritual gifts more intentionally.

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Benchmarks Matter

Discusses techniques and benefits of internal assessment of an organization

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Best Board Books #1 – Boards That Lead

Best Board Books #1 – Boards That Lead

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Best Board Books #10 – Good Governance for Nonprofits

Best Board Books #10 – Good Governance for Nonprofits

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Best Board Books #11: Boards That Make a Difference

Best Board Books #11: Boards That Make a Difference

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Best Board Books #12: Call of the Chair

Best Board Books #12: Call of the Chair

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Best Board Books #13: Two Tools in Two Books – Part 1

Best Board Books #13: Two Tools in Two Books – Part 1

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Best Board Books #14: Two Tools in Two Books – Part 2

Best Board Books #14: Two Tools in Two Books – Part 2

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Best Board Books #15: Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom (Second Edition)

Best Board Books #15: Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom (Second Edition)

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Best Board Books #16: The Council

Best Board Books #16: The Council

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Best Board Books #17: Lessons From the Church Boardroom

Best Board Books #17: Lessons From the Church Boardroom

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Best Board Books #18: Humility

Best Board Books #18: Humility

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Best Board Books #2 – The Imperfect Board Member

Best Board Books #2 – The Imperfect Board Member

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Best Board Books #3 – Best Practices for Effective Boards

Best Board Books #3 – Best Practices for Effective Boards

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Best Board Books #4 – Stewards of a Sacred Trust

Best Board Books #4 – Stewards of a Sacred Trust

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Best Board Books #5 – Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask

Best Board Books #5 – Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask

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Best Board Books #6 – Serving as a Board Member: Practical Guidance for Directors of Christian Ministries

Best Board Books #6 – Serving as a Board Member: Practical Guidance for Directors of Christian Ministries

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Best Board Books #7 – The Nonprofit Board Answer Book

Best Board Books #7 – The Nonprofit Board Answer Book

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Best Board Books #8 – The Practitioner's Guide to Governance as Leadership

Best Board Books #8 – The Practitioner's Guide to Governance as Leadership

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Best Board Books #9 – Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board

Best Board Books #9 – Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board

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Best Board Books: Index to 18 Good Governance Stimulators

Best Board Books: Index to 18 Good Governance Stimulators

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Beware the Emotional Effects of Transitions

How sensitive are your board members, CEO, and senior team members in recognizing that the decisions you make can trigger a variety of emotions and responses among the staff, volunteers, clients/customers, and donors you serve?

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Beware the Phone-Book-Size Report

My 84-page PDF landed with a thud.

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Beyond Scorecard and Dashboard Reporting

Aligning strategic plans with department and staff-performance goals

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Big Blessings Abound When Governance Faithfulness Flourishes

Two stories: “The Board and the Bachelor Farmer” and “$1.5 Billion Worth of Burger Blessings!”

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Big Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand

Ministry boards have a natural gravitational pull toward issues that should be reserved for the staff.

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Big Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand

Church boards have a natural gravitational pull toward issues that should be reserved for the church staff.

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Board Chair - Sample Position Description

Board Chair position description

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Board Chairs: Our Single Greatest Need

At your next board meeting, ask each person (including the CEO) to write out and then share their answer to the question, “What is our board’s single greatest need?”

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Board Ethics Sample Policy

A board's commitment to biblical, ethical, businesslike, and lawful conduct

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Board Governance Committee

Discusses the purpose, duties, and role of a board governance committee

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Board Input Versus Board Output

“What would you say are the one or two things your board did in the last 12 months that really made a difference for your ministry?”

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Board Meeting Body Language

What are your unwritten rules about board behavior? What guidance do you get from Scripture when confronting character or behavioral flaws?

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Board Member Application

Sample form to be completed by a prospective board member

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Board Member Commitment Pledge

Sample annual pledge of service for board members

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Board Member Resources

A list of resources to help board members to excellence

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Board Member Selection

Publications that may be helpful in selecting nonprofit board members

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Board Retreat Engagement Reading

If you gave a Pop Quiz at your next board meeting, how many board members would be able to intelligently articulate your organization’s strategy?

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Board Review of IRS Form 990

Board Review of Form 990

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Board Secretary – Sample Position Description

Board Secretary position description

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Board Self-Evaluation – Is It Time to Give Your Board a Check-up?

Outlines the purpose, importance, and means of board self-evaluation

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Board Self-Evaluation Form - Full Board Evaluation

Evaluating the board as a whole

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Board Self-Evaluation Forms - Board Member Evaluation

Evaluating a fellow board member

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Board Self-Evaluation Overview

Discusses board self-evaluation and includes links to sample board self-evaluation forms

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Board Service Word Association Game

Does your board service inspire other family members to invest their lives in Christ-centered board work?

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Board Service: “Easy when . . .”

Before you invite prospects to join your board, what process do you use to spiritually discern if they have passion for your cause?

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Board Service: An honor or a duty?

Outlines the importance of effective board service as both an honor and a duty

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Board Treasurer – Sample Position Description

Board Treasurer position description

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Board Vice Chair – Sample Position Description

Board Vice Chair position description

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Board Voting by Proxy

Discusses the implications of board voting by proxy

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Board Warts

What are you doing—in every board meeting—to build God-honoring trust, conflict (the good kind!), commitment, accountability, and results?

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Botched Executive Sessions Are Not Pretty

Don’t assume that your executive sessions will automatically be excellent.

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Break Bread, Not Relationships

Building a 24/7 healthy board culture takes time. Don’t skimp on meals or relationships.

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Cajoled Onto the Board

How does your nominating committee measure a board prospect’s passion for your ministry?

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Called to Serve #1: What Will You Measure?

As you measure outputs and outcomes, are your board members, board chair, CEO, and senior team members all on the same page?

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Called to Serve #10: What's More Important Than Structure?

Discuss the theological values that undergird your ministry—and assess if the relational values of the Good News are alive and well in your boardroom and in your 24/7 year-round board culture.

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Called to Serve #11: Do Not Censor What the Board Receives

How frequently does our CEO deliver bad news? How appropriately does our board respond to bad news?

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Called to Serve #12: Coherence With Corrals

Is our policy document (corral) current and crystal clear? Does it result in the natural fecundity of a God-honoring organization?

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Called to Serve #13: The Prospect Pipeline

Agree on how many names should be in the “board prospect pipeline” (at various stages in the “dating” process) at any given time.

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Called to Serve #14: There Are No Committee Statues!

“Culture is evidenced in specific and measurable behaviors. People consistently perform according to what is measured.”

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Called to Serve #15: SILENCE!

Before (way before!) you entrust the board chair position to the next “likely suspect,” discuss the high bar that both De Pree and McKenna set for the “call” of the chair.

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Called to Serve #16: Board Member Self-Measurements

Before your next meeting, ask board members to read De Pree’s chapter, “What Does a Trustee Promise?” and then write a confidential, self-assessment, “How will I know if I’m doing a good job?”

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Called to Serve #17: Be a Frantic Learner!

Before you order your next “everyone read this book before the board retreat,” take time to discern where frantic learning is needed. Seek God’s voice—not the hype from the bestsellers list.

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Called to Serve #18: If No Progress—Skip the “Progress Report"!

At your next board meeting, present a gift card to the first committee chair who courageously announces, “We have no progress to report, but we are working on our three to five annual SMART Goals that the board approved at the last meeting. Thus ends our report!”

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Called to Serve #19: The Phone-Book-Size Board Packet Syndrome

Do pre-meeting materials, reports, and minutes arrive with adequate time to reflect and discern next steps?

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Called to Serve #2: Violence and Committee Meetings!

De Pree notes the story of the English visitor who watched his first American football game and observed, “The game combines the two worst elements of American culture—violence and committee meetings.”

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Called to Serve #20: Use White Space to Practice Hospitality

Do we practice God-honoring hospitality before, during, and after our board meetings?

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Called to Serve #21: When Your Organization Is Bleeding and Boring Board Members

Do we address governance tensions appropriately?

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Called to Serve #22: The Ten-Foot Pole Tension

Has your board addressed this common tension—board member evaluation and assessment? How long is your board’s pole?

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Called to Serve #23: Board Meddling on Management’s Turf

Think back to your last board meeting. Did your board chair halt discussion that spiraled down into management and operational items?

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Called to Serve #24: Max’s Most Memorable Message (1924–2017)

Ask your CEO, “What do you want to be remembered for? And what should we measure?”

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Called to Serve #25: What the Board Owes the CEO

Question 1: What is our ministry’s strategy? Question 2: Is our strategy crystal clear to our CEO?

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Called to Serve #26: The Error of Leadership Indifference

“How many errors in organizations are due to leadership indifference?"

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Called to Serve #27: Give Space…But Plan Sparingly

Does the board allocate adequate space to the CEO—or does the board meddle and micro-manage?

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Called to Serve #28: Don’t Neglect Your CEO’s Growth

Christ-centered boards should have the same mindset: inspiring their CEOs to thrive by providing an adequate budget and time for personal and professional growth.

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Called to Serve #29: Goal No. 1—Keep Your CEO Alive!

What the board might consider a helpful resource or benefit may not speak to your CEO’s unique needs.

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Called to Serve #3: Loyalty Is Never Sufficient

What Bible verse or passage would enrich the meaning for us as we reflect on these standards of governance effectiveness?

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Called to Serve #30: No Board Detail Is Too Small (Index to 30 Blogs)

Max De Pree: “…my experience has convinced me that no detail is too small to consider carefully when it comes to thinking about the important work of nonprofit boards and the people who serve on them.”

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Called to Serve #4: Challenged With Measurable Work

If you’re “called to serve,” how are you enriching your board service competencies?

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Called to Serve #5: How to “Table” a Thank You

How does your board thank people?

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Called to Serve #6: Governance Through the Prism of the Agenda

Do our board agendas align with our philosophy and theology of governance?

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Called to Serve #7: The Bell Curve of a Board Meeting

At your next meeting, ask one board member to observe and plot the bell curve for the entire board meeting—and then share an end-of-the-meeting analysis if the most critical agenda items were discerned at the top of the bell curve.

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Called to Serve #8: No Reading Allowed!

Peter Drucker said, “At least once every five years, every form should be put on trial for its life.”

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Called to Serve #9: Death by Committee

Rate the effectiveness of each committee on a scale of one to five.

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Caution! Understand the Governance Pendulum Principle

You have limited time to act when the pendulum oscillates in a positive direction.

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CEO Job Description

Nonprofit organizations exist in all sizes with an emphasis on an array of causes.  Regardless of size, or whether the organization’s staff is made up of volunteers or employees, every nonprofit should have one person who is the effective leader that guides the organization.

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Compensating the CEO—It’s About More than Money

Getting the compensation-setting process right must be a priority.

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Conducting Effective Board Meetings

Outlines the important role of the board chair in planning and leading effective board meetings

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Conference Call Board Meetings

Includes a compilation of state government legislation on teleconferencing

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Conflict of Interest Sample Disclosure Annual Statement

Sample statement for reporting conflict of interest disclosure

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Conflict of Interest Sample Policy for Ministries

Sample Conflict of Interest/Related Party Policy for ministries

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Conflict of Interest Sample Policy Statement for Ministries

Conflict of interest policy statement for ministries

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Conflicts of Interest and Related-Party Transactions for Ministries

Discusses conflicts of interest and related-party transactions – includes a sample conflicts of interest policy and related documents

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Corporate Documents

Discusses the bylaws and articles of incorporation for a nonprofit organization

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Covenant of Confidentiality

Nonprofit boards may use this sample covenant of confidentiality to protect the confidentiality of a ministry

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Creating the Vision for the Next Board

Creating a vision for and drawing the blueprint for the future board is one of the most important legacies of a board.

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Cronies and Admirers Need Not Apply!

Of the four areas—Friendship, Focus, Fidelity, Foresight—what are you best at?

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Cut the Cord! Invite Board Members to Exit When They Don’t Live Your Values

If you want a healthy board, recruit healthy people.

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Cut Your Losses

Is it a $30,000 baseball or not?

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Dashboards Are Not a Secret Sauce for Sound Governance

Too often the use of dashboards does not clearly communicate the past and give signals for the future.

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Date Board Prospects Before You Propose Marriage

He served the shortest board term in the history of the world!

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Decrease Staff Reporting and Increase Heavy Lifting

Consider the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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Defending Risks Everywhere Is Not a Strategic Plan

You must discuss the risk elephant in the boardroom.

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Design Your Succession Plan—Now!

What if your CEO is hit by a bus?

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Disclosure of Governing Documents and Conflict of Interest Policy

Nonprofit organizations subject to the Form 990 filing requirements should determine how to respond to the Form 990 question about disclosure of certain governing documents.

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Do Not Interrupt!

Don’t assume board members know how to listen.

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Do Unwritten Board Policies Really Exist?

Can’t find that 10-year-old policy? You need a BPM.

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Do You Need a Consultant—or a Pastor?

If you want a healthy board, recruit healthy and spiritually mature people.

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Don’t Be Late—or Annoying!

What’s worse than fingernails on a chalkboard? A boisterous board member at a prayer meeting.

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Don’t Stretch Credulity with BHAGS and Stretch Goals

The actual achievement of audacious goals is very uncommon.

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Effective Board Governance in Turbulent Times

The furthest thing from your mind is a collapse of Wall Street that significantly impacts Main Street—a collapse that impacts many of your donors and funders, and in turn, impacts the budget of the ministry you serve.

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Eight Best Practices for Recruiting New Board Members

Have you ever served on a board when a prospect was nominated for board service because he was a friend of a friend of someone’s Cousin Eddie?

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Eliminate Fuzziness Between Board and Staff Roles

Keep your leaders on track with a one-page Prime Responsibility Chart.

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Eliminate Hallway Whining

A 5/15 report to the board takes just five minutes to read and 15 minutes to write.

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Enabling Dysfunctional Boards

When will you discuss your next board member self-evaluation process?

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Encouragement: Oxygen to the Soul

How can your board be more intentional about encouraging your CEO?

 

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Engage Board Members in Generative Thinking

They rely on generative thinking in their day jobs but are rarely asked to think collaboratively in the boardroom.

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Enhance Harmony by Clarifying Your Participant-Hat Expectations

Understand the three board hats: Governance, Volunteer, and Participant.

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Envision Your Best Board Member Orientation Ever

Equip new board members to serve from day one.

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Equal Opportunity Talkers

When your board members exited your last board meeting, what percentage of them would have said, “I made a very significant contribution today on an important topic”?

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Executive Compensation Policy

A board’s determination of the nonprofit’s senior staff members’ compensation is one of its key tasks. 

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Executive Compensation Process – Sample for Ministries

Sample Executive Compensation Process

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Fast Feedback Tool

What if…you’re the chair and the Fast Feedback exercise reveals low scores? What would you say?

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Finance Committee Sample Charter

Sample Finance Committee Charter

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Five Board Governance Trends

Peter Drucker said, "The best way to predict the future is to create it." In this article, John Pearson shares five trends and best practices to help create your preferred board governance future.

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Five Troublesome Misconceptions of Board Members

Understanding board member myths can lead to improved governing effectiveness.

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Focus on Mission Impact and Sustainability

The “dual bottom line” equips boards to address dead horses and sacred cows (or goats).

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Forget the Plaques!

When you honor your next departing board member or board chair, how will you meaningfully connect the dots between faithfulness and Kingdom impact?

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From the Pen of Olan Hendrix

ECFA is pleased to offer excerpts from Olan Hendrix's writings as a part of our Knowledge Center. Please find below many great topical articles that we hope will be a blessing to you in your ministry.

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Getting Your Board Through the Wilderness

Nonprofit ministry and church boards are always facing changes—planned or unplanned (the economy, CEO transitions, shifting loyalties of donors and much more).

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Good Thing Pilots Are Life-long Learners!

Inspire your board members to be trustworthy stewards as they hear from God and pilot the direction of your ministry.

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Governance and the Christian College

In order to have the kind of “shared governance” that is called for in most Christian college and university settings, there is one overarching fundamental that needs to be firmly placed in the hearts and minds of board members and staff alike.

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Governance for Christ-centered Ministries

What are the transformational distinctives of Christ-centered board governance?  What is different in Christian-centered board governance compared to the secular governance models?

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Governance Overkill Syndrome

Nonprofit organizations are on a quest to seek out and attain good governance. The failure of a relatively small number of boards to do their jobs should not cause every nonprofit board in America to engage in remedial action that is unduly burdensome and unproductive, and that distracts board members from their true obligation--that of overseeing the effective carrying out of the mission of the organization itself.

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Governing Board Culture

We are confident we need to address our current governing board culture but we are not sure when and how to proceed. What do you suggest?

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Governing Board Minutes Sample

Board Minutes - Sample

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Graveyards and Succession Plans

What is the next step in approving or re-visiting your CEO succession plan?

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Great Boards and the Elephants-in-the-Room

Does your board conduct an annual self-assessment process?

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Great Boards Delegate Their Reading

Identify a “Leaders Are Readers Champion.”

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Guarding Your CEO’s Soul

Wise boards invest time—up front—to ensure their CEO’s soul is not neglected.

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Hallway Executive Sessions

What is your board’s policy and protocol for executive sessions?

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Handling Conflicts of Interest

Practical approaches for boards

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Hooey Alerts!

Would anyone issue a “Hooey Alert!” for your new board member orientation?

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How Many Board Members Are Present in Your Boardroom?

It’s more than just answering the roll call.

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How to Avoid Obliteration

On the planning process continuum between “foggy confusion” (and perhaps obliteration) and God’s guiding light…where is your organization?

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How to Avoid Three Common Board Mistakes

You may have been on a board where one or more of these three mistakes were made. Avoiding these mistakes will improve the effectiveness of your board.

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Identify Your Key Assumptions

An inaccurate premise may lead to a colossal flop!

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If You Need a Board Member, Recruit a Board Member

If you need a volunteer, recruit a volunteer.

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If You Need a Volunteer, Recruit a Volunteer

If you need a board member, recruit a board member.

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Impending Deterioration

What is your board’s reality? Entropy or excellence?

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Improving Your Board—One Step at a Time

Article by Dan Busby

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Independent Board Members

Outlines ECFA's requirement regarding independent board members

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Individual Board Members - Sample Position Description

Describes responsibilities and characteristics for individual board members

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Integrity Slipping?

What is one of our greatest dangers for injury? An issue that tops the charts is the potential for a spiritual 911-type injury is when our integrity slips.

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Internal Control Resources

Publications that include information on internal control

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Invest “10 Minutes for Governance” in Every Board Meeting

We are all guilty of bringing our delightful dysfunctions into every new board experience.

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Invitation for Improvement

With an eye on eternity, how will you inspire your board members to be looking for more “invitations for improvement?”

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Is There a Retirement Age for Board Members?

Gently helping an elderly board member exit from the board.

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Is Your Board Color-Blind to Hazardous Conditions?

?What color is your boardroom flag?

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Is Your Board Crisis-Ready?

The day will come when the board faces a big challenge, be it financial, moral, spiritual, or relational.

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Is Your Ministry Too Close to the Edge?

Discusses various forms of risk management for nonprofit organizations

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It Takes a Village to Raise a Board’s Effectiveness

Almost 1,100 CEOs, board chairs and board members participated in the 2011 Governance Survey of ECFA members. 

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Just Do One Thing a Month

Make a specific ask of each board member each month.

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Keeping the Boardroom Afloat

Are too many staff causing the boardroom to capsize?

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Keeping Up With the Joneses

How about your board? How much better—how much more God-honoring—could you be if you focused not on the Joneses but on God’s unique call for your important ministry?

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Leadership Succession

Guidance for leadership transitions in nonprofit organizations

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Leverage the 80/20 Rule in the Boardroom

Invest 80 percent of your board work on future ministry opportunities—not rehashing the past.

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Listen to the Wisdom of Many Counselors

Don’t ask board members to vote against God!

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Looking for Consensus but Finding Division

Finding consensus on challenging issues requires deft handling and a flexible approach by the board chair.

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Loose Lips Sink the Boardroom Ship

What happens in the boardroom must stay in the boardroom.

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Making Vision a Reality

Effective strategic plans and how to implement them

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Micromanaging Board Members: Ego Satisfaction?

What drives your board's actions: ego satisfaction from micromanaging or ensuring that Christ is on the throne for each board member—and then, as a group, spiritually discerning his voice?

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Ministry Fundraising 101 for Board Members

Could your board members pass a pop-quiz on fundraising practices?

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Mission Creep – Blueprint for Mission Creep

Why organizations drift from their mission: finances, personnel, organizational structure, demographics, or philosophy

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Mission Creep – Temptations and Solutions

Why organizations drift from their mission and how to avoid drift — "all great causes are not your cause."

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Mission Statement Pop Quiz

All the literature, all the books, and all the resources hammer us on the importance of aligning everything we do with our mission.

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More Huckster Than Holy?

Is fundraising the greatest need in your organization? If so, what might you learn by digging deeper into this subject?

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Musical Chairs

If we are to spiritually discern God’s direction, as board members, how important is it that we really know each other?

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Never Throw Red Meat on the Board Table

Boards need advance preparation to fully address complex issues.

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Nice Farewell Dinner, But Where’s my Plaque?

What is your CEO’s love language—and how do you regularly express appreciation to him or her?

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No Bad Board Meeting Is Too Short!

Is it time to rethink the frequency and the length of our board meetings?

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Nonprofit Board Member Annual Affirmation Statement

Sample Board Affirmation Statement

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Optimizing the Board-President Relationship: Best Practices that Make a Difference

The executive search process is launched with the best of intentions. The board search committee is put together to set parameters and to ensure due diligence. The multiple documents and resumes provided by presidential candidates are reviewed, finalists determined, followed by multiple interviews, test-taking, and analyses. The choice is subsequently announced to great fanfare, followed by the usual pomp and circumstance of a presidential inauguration, everyone hoping for the best.  

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Planning in Times of Uncertainty: An overview of the scenario planning process

This article explains the five main steps of the scenario planning process. Scenario planning involves exploring several ways the future may unfold and devising a strategy that will keep you moving forward no matter what happens. It is useful during times of disruptive change when long-range planning seems impossible.

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Plant a Seed in the Boardroom

Watch the Lord reap the harvest.

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Policy: The Board’s Chief Occupation

At the beginning and end of each board agenda item, are you asking the key question: Is our policy on this issue current and clear, or does it need to be amended?

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Pop Quiz on Your Elevator Speech

So…what is your ministry’s elevator speech? Does it prompt the listener’s next question, “Wow! Tell me more!”

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Prioritize Prayer Over Problems

Create space for prayer—serious supplications for serious work.

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Public Access to Ministry Board Meetings or Board Meeting Minutes

Discusses any legal requirements and the propriety of granting public access to ministry board meetings or board meeting minutes

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Quality Financial Reporting

Outlines a nonprofit board’s responsibility for quality financial reporting

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Quick Fix Tools for Board Self-Assessments

How will you inspire your board members to measure and monitor their own effectiveness?

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Recording Governing Board Minutes

Outlines the importance of and procedures for recording board meeting minutes, including a sample set of minutes

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Recruiting Board Members

Outlines some helpful board recruitment strategies to develop and maintain an effective board

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Renewing Your Vision

The importance of keeping God’s vision for ministry in focus

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Report Once and Report with Clarity

Hearing the same report more than once is a “10” on the pain threshold! 

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Rumsfeld’s Rules on Meetings

If you asked the Lord for a give-it-to-us-straight assessment of your last board meeting, what improvements might He suggest?

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S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Boards

What are the Top-3 Goals for your board this year?

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Serve With Humility and Experience God's Presence

One board chair creates a holy moment for his CEO search committee.

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Serving on a Ministry Board with Excellence

Boards seem to give little thought to qualities that separate good boards from the very best

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Seven Best Practices for Cultivating New Board Members

Recruiting the right people onto the board bus must be a high priority for boards. As the board goes, so goes the organization.

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Seven Times When a Board Member Should Bid Adieu

Board service is for a season—but it is not forever!

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Should Most Standing Committees Stand Down?

How many standing committees are needed for effective governance?

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Sidetrack Harebrained Ideas

Some motions should never gain unmerited oxygen.

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Slow Down and Wait on God

“He does not bestow His gifts on the casual or hasty.”

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Spiritual Discernment

Dr. Stephen Macchia is one of the leaders of a growing spiritual discernment movement.  As Steve says:  “No matter who joins you at the discernment table, they bring with them their hearts . . . the condition of their hearts directly impacts the discernment process.”  May you bring a burning heart to the discernment table.

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Spotting, Catching, or Exiting a Falling CEO

Watch for the critical signs.

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Staff and Volunteer Ethics Sample Policy

A nonprofit's staff and volunteers' commitment to biblical, ethical, businesslike, and lawful conduct

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Strategic Plans that Learn: An innovative alternative to traditional strategic planning

Traditional strategic plans often fail to produce the intended results. In business schools, strategic planning has been replaced with the broader concept of strategic management. Rather than doing long-range strategic planning every three years or so, it is far better to conduct periodic strategic reviews. The article describes six questions to use to guide strategic review meetings.

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Succession Planning: “Appointment Without Anointment Always Led to Disaster”

Do you agree that “appointment without anointment” will lead to disaster?

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Succession Planning: “Do I Still Have Fire in My Belly?”

News Flash! Your CEO will retire someday. . .

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Succession Planning: “My Heart Had Left the Building”

“The number one issue for me was passion. My heart was no longer engaged in my job—the fire had gone out. My heart had left the building.”

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Succession Planning: “One Size Fits All” Is Bad Counsel

What are some foundational biblical principles you can glean from David and Solomon or Paul and Timothy or others?

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Succession Planning: “Wise People Know When to Quit”

Does our board regularly practice spiritual discernment for fork-in-the-road decisions, or are our prayer practices more superficial than transformational?

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Succession Planning: 11 Principles (Index to 11 Posts)

Board members should discern not only what CEO competencies they need for the next few years, but what kind of situation their new leader will inherit.

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Succession Planning: Decide If You Need a Search Firm

Michael J. Lotito: “If you spend a lot of time figuring out who you’re going to hire, you’ll have to spend far less time figuring out who to fire.”  

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Succession Planning: Does Your CEO Need a Coach?

According to Soderquist Leadership, “92% of executives who received coaching said they would be willing to be coached again.”

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Succession Planning: Hire Slower and Fire Faster

What do board members fear the most? They fear having to terminate a CEO on their watch.

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Succession Planning: Is Your CEO Thriving or Just Surviving?

Will our CEO leave when he or she is thriving, or just surviving?

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Succession Planning: The Five Stages of CEO Abandonment

Surprise…and maybe shock! While you thought your CEO would serve until retirement, today she called your board chair to announce her resignation!

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Succession Planning: The Ongoing Continuous Process

Are there appropriate board-approved succession policies to guide the work of the Succession Planning Task Force?

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Tap! Tap! Tap!

Does the Spirit hear a busy signal when nudging your board?

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Term Limits for Boards

Outlines the importance and strategy of term limits for boards

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The “Quieter” Pool of Board Members

What methods do you leverage to tone down your noisy board members and encourage your quieter board members to speak up?

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The 6 D's: Doer

Do you have a written pathway to the board that includes reference-checking? What questions do you ask others about a prospective board member?

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The 6 D's: Donor

Before we invite new people to consider board service, what is our giving guideline for board members?

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The 6 D’s: Demonstrated Passion

How will we discern and document that our board candidates have passion for our cause?

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The 6 D’s: Diligent and Faithful Participant

How many board prospects are you currently dating and who is observing them, up close, to discern if they meet Criteria No. 4: Diligent and Faithful Participant?

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The 6 D’s: Discerning Decision Maker

What are 10 questions we should be asking our board prospects?

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The 6 D’s: Documented Team Player

How will we conduct our due diligence on future board members to ensure that they are competent team players and not Lone Rangers?

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The Board and the Bachelor Farmer

What stories of management faithfulness and governance faithfulness are you using to inspire and motivate your board members?

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The Board's Fiscal Responsibilities

Board members act as trustees of the ministries assets and must exercise due diligence to make sure that the ministries are well-managed and financially sound. This article outlines the board's fiscal responsibilities.

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The Bully in the Boardroom

The board chair, the CEO, and other board members must neutralize the board bully.

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The Connection Chasm

Does your board have a Pathway to the Board Checklist? How are you communicating board service opportunities to younger board members?

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The Cousin Eddie Syndrome

How does your board avoid the Cousin Eddie Syndrome—and when is the last time you’ve reviewed board recruitment best practices?

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The Executive Committee and Its Role for Ministries

Describes the potential role of an executive committee of a ministry board

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The Great Board Debate: How should ministry boards govern?

This article describes the pros and cons of policy based governance and the requirements that must be in place before making a transition. It examines the tendency of boards to swing from micro-managing to rubber-stamping and what to do about it.

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The Impact of Founder's Syndrome

Visionary leaders do not just experience personal stress but can also cause great organizational distress. Founder’s Syndrome occurs when an organization is driven more by the personality of the founder than by its own mission. It is an organizational problem more than a personal one. All institutions face this danger, but it is especially complicated in Christian settings, where founders often function as spiritual leaders as well.

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The Language of Christmas Gifting

At your next board meeting, ask each board member, “What is your love language?”

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The Last Time We Evaluated our CEO? How About Never!

What is your board's process for annually evaluating your CEO? 

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The Meeting Before the Meeting

How will you know the perspective of your board members, if you don’t have some form of “the meeting before the meeting” (lunch, phone call, Skype call, etc.)?

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The Most Underrated Board Position

The position of the board chair is pivotal to a healthy board.

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The Nothingness Syndrome

Are you guilty of receiving (and even reading) emailed board reports—but not hitting “REPLY” with a short encouraging note to the CEO? 

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The Participant Hat: Hinting, Whining, or Affirming?

Are the Participant Hat expectations crystal clear to all board members?

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The Peaceful Urgency Continuum

What do you do, in your board meetings and day-after-day, to forge a Peaceful Urgency as your board stewards God’s work?

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The Perfect Board Member (PBM)

What would you add when creating the Perfect Board Member?

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The Powerful Potential of Tab 10

What’s your next step for leveraging the God-honoring heart and passion of former board members?

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The Productivity Payoff of Intentional Hospitality

Create hospitable and productive board environments.

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The Sober-Judgment Board

What is a biblical way to think about board self-assessment?  Dr. Philip Ryken, president of Wheaton College, suggests board members should “think with sober judgment” (Romans 12).  His outstanding article, "The Sober-Judgment Board," emphasizes the importance of a carefully structured, mission driven, and mutually accountable board.

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The Truck Driver Was No Match for the Faith-Filled Board Chair

Don’t stop at “All in favor say aye.”

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The Two Enemies of Sound Board Decisions

Avoid being pressed for time and making major decisions remotely.

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The Two Sides of Strategic Planning: How the Holy Spirit inspires our vision and our planning

Strategic planning has two sides and a middle—the visionary thinking side and the detailed planning side—linked together by current reality. Both sides are important and necessary. Like planning a family vacation, you have to decide on a great destination everyone will enjoy, but you also have to make lists and pack the car.

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Then and Now

“If ECFA had not been formed, another organization would have been needed to fill its role,” said Lauren Libby, former ECFA board member.

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There Are No Irrational Customers

What does your customer value—and what is your systematic quest for those answers?

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There Are Two Things You Should Never Joke About—#1: Prayer

“The last one with your thumb up says grace.”

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There Are Two Things You Should Never Joke About—#2: Fundraising

Flippancy about fundraising is never a good substitute for sincerity.

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Think and Pray Outside the Box—and the County

Discern your Big HOLY Audacious Goal (carefully).

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Thrive with Four Kingdom Values

Pastor Carlos said he didn’t have the spiritual gift of church board meetings!

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Thrive With Four Kingdom Values

Set a high standard for the board and the board members.

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TOOL #1: The Pathway to the Board

Give this internal document to your Governance Committee to guide them along the six steps…from suggestion to election.

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TOOL #10: The 5/15 Monthly Report to the Board

Use this tool to keep the board informed and inspired between meetings. Once formatted, it takes just 15 minutes to write and 5 minutes to read.

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TOOL #11: Monthly Dashboard Report

Use this tool to update the board and senior team on the CEO’s or senior pastor’s Top-5 Annual S.M.A.R.T. Goals. (Send updates at least monthly.)

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TOOL #12: Quarterly Board Meeting Agenda and Recommendations

Use this agenda template to signal the board, seven to 10 days in advance, that this board meeting is important—and their insights are needed.

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TOOL #13: Board Retreat Read-and-Reflect Worksheets

Prior to your next board retreat, create a “Read-and-Reflect Worksheet” and inspire the board to read one governance book in preparation for your retreat.

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TOOL #14: The Rolling 3-Year Strategic Plan Placemat

Roll-up your sleeves and gather the strategically-gifted board and senior staff around the table—and begin with this: “What is our strategy?”

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TOOL #15: Board Retreat Trend-Spotting Exercise

Use this trend-spotting template to generate insights and interaction on a key hot topic at your next retreat—each person presenting one article.

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TOOL #16: Prime Responsibility Chart

Use this tool to eliminate fuzziness between board and staff roles.

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TOOL #17: Board Policies Manual

Use this tool to create a Board Policies Manual (BPM)—and finally, you’ll have all your policies in one document and always updated.

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TOOL #18: Job Descriptions for the Top Leader and Board Chair

Review these sample job descriptions for the Board Chair and the CEO (or Executive Pastor) and then use these insights to refresh your documents.

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TOOL #19: Ten Minutes for Governance

Use this tool at every meeting to enhance lifelong learning.

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TOOL #2: Board Nominee Suggestion Form

Give this suggestion form to board members to help them discern who to recommend for board service.

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TOOL #20: Tent Cards and Tools for Leveraging Board Member Strengths

Inspire your board to complete the online CliftonStrengths® assessment and then create tent cards and tools to leverage strengths at every board and committee meeting! 

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TOOL #21: Board Member Annual Affirmation Statement

Share this document with board prospects to communicate your high commitment and generosity standards. Plus, require re-commitments annually from all board members.

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TOOL #22: Straw Vote Cards

Use red and green straw vote cards to discern if you have consensus or division on big and small issues—and save valuable time!

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TOOL #3: Board Nominee Orientation: Table of Contents

Inspire qualified board prospects to consider board service by giving them a comprehensive overview of your governance documents.

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TOOL #4: Five-Finger Feedback

Use this tool to enrich engagement and immediate feedback.

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TOOL #5: The Board’s Annual Self-Assessment Survey

Select the board self-assessment survey option that best fits your board’s culture and your board’s aspirations for continual improvement.

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TOOL #6: The Board’s Annual Financial Management Audit

Use this TRUE OR FALSE audit annually as a first step in assessing your ministry’s financial health and integrity.

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TOOL #7: The Board’s Annual Legal Audit

Use this TRUE OR FALSE annual audit as a first step in assessing your ministry’s compliance with applicable local, state, and federal laws and regulations.

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TOOL #8: The Board’s Annual Fundraising Audit

Use this TRUE OR FALSE annual audit as a first step in assessing if the ministry is communicating giving opportunities with integrity and accuracy—and whether or not the board understands and affirms the ministry’s current fundraising practices.

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TOOL #9: The Board’s Annual Evaluation of the Top Leader

Review these templates—and then customize your annual process so it fits your unique situation and your unique top leader! (One size doesn’t fit all.)

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TOOL 1 Review – The Pathway to the Board

Here’s a very practical tool for tracking possible board nominees in your “Prospect Pipeline.”

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Tough Decisions for Boards

Discusses elements of making effective board meeting decisions

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Travel Expense of Board Members and their Spouses

Outlines the issues surrounding board member and spousal travel reimbursements

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Try “Stoppage Time” at Your Next Board Meeting

At the end of your next board meeting, read this tongue-in-check post to the board and then ask for feedback.

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Two Prayers and a Poem Are Not Enough!

How will you raise the significance of the devotional thoughts at your board meetings and retreats?

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Two Things Boards Should Never Joke About, Part 2

Not every board member is a skilled fundraiser—and that’s OK.

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Two Things Boards Should Never Joke About, Part 1

Oswald Chambers wrote that prayer is “the vital breath of the Christian.” Is that vital breath evident both in your board meetings and outside of board meetings?

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Two Tools for Improving Communication

Has your board agreed on the template and standing topics that your CEO should report on each month (and the report frequency)?

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Typos Matter!

“Pious shoddy is still shoddy.”

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Unmistakable Integrity Starts with the Tone at the Top

Integrity appears in both very small ways and very significant ways.

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Vision Growth Must Equal Leader Growth

Caution! Vision-casting often backfires.

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Wanted: Lifelong Learners

Would you trust a surgeon who stopped learning?

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Warning! Resumé-Builders Make Lousy Board Members

He envisioned how board service would look on his resumé.

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Watch Out for Boards Asleep at the Wheel

Golden opportunities are missed when a board’s eyes are wide shut.

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We All Need Feedback

God is honored when we ask for feedback—and when we practice what we preach, our CEOs will ask for feedback.

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What Criteria for New Board Members?

When is the last time we reviewed our written criteria for board member selection?

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What Drains Your Board Members?

This subject arrested my attention when a good friend, Jim Galvin, asked in a recent eNewsletter, “What’s Your Kryptonite?”

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What Is the Board's Role in Fundraising?

Looks at the specific roles of board members in fundraising

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When Bad Boards Happen to Good People

Do CEOs get the boards they deserve?

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Where Two or Three Are Gathered on Social Media

Conflicts of interest always sound more questionable on the internet and social media.

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Whopper Mistakes Can Unravel Your Ministry

If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out?

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Why Do Board Members Micromanage?

What would be the upside if the board and senior team agreed on a two-page strategy document?

 

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You Made Me Better Than I Was

Board experiences should leave all participants better than they were.

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Your Board’s Fair Share of the World’s Burden

How many of us really get it right—a holy balance in bearing our due share of the world’s burden?

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Your CEO’s Worst Mistake!

What are the top three things you need to accomplish in the next six to 12 months to give your organization the best chance of long-term success?

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Your Designated Dicernmentarian

When we’re facing a fork-in-the-road decision, do we have the spiritual tools at hand to truly hear from God and practice “indifference” to our own personal views?

 

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Your Greatest Need: Money or Discernment

What’s the most important need in our ministry right now? Raising money to do our work or discerning what work God wants us to do?

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