How Boards Raise Money for Ministry

by Dan Hotchkiss
“Fundraising is the board’s main job.” I was stunned by this blunt advice from the executive director of a respected arts nonprofit. “I tell every new board member,” she continued, “give, get—or get out.” We expect each member to produce at least $5,000, either out of their own pockets or by asking others.”

Handling the Hum of Bright Ideas

by Dan Hotchkiss

When someone gets a new idea in your congregation, whom do they call? The clergy leader? A board member? The front-line office person—the executive director, secretary, or administrator—often manages the incoming stream of helpful hints, complaints, requests, suggestions, and reform proposals. The flow of bright ideas is a sign of life, part of the background hum of a healthy congregation.

Goal-focused Evaluation

Many people flinch at the mention of evaluation, and with reason. Research shows that in many workplaces, the main effect of employee reviews is to hurt productivity by annually lowering morale. In congregations, staff evaluation too often is conducted as a popularity poll with anonymous respondents rating staff performance on the basis of subjective impressions. …

Read moreGoal-focused Evaluation

Who Owns a Congregation?

by Dan Hotchkiss
When I ask members of a governing board about the board’s job, someone (frequently a lawyer or a banker) often uses an obscure word that speaks rather deeply to the nature of the board’s role: “The board is a fiduciary.”
And what might a fiduciary be? read more…

What to Say When Your Side Loses

by Dan Hotchkiss
“The ayes have it.” Curt put down his hand and looked across the table at Priscilla, who had also voted “no.” Priscilla smiled, shrugged, and joined the chatter about how to ask the membership to ratify the board’s decision. Curt was not smiling. By five to two, the board had voted to tear down the ladies’ parlor to make room for a new classroom wing. Luckily, the congregation also needed to approve the project. Curt was thinking about how to make his arguments again. read more

What Size is Our Congregation?

by Dan Hotchkiss
It’s harder to size up a congregation than it used to be. It’s still worth trying, though, because no one fact says more about a group of human beings than its size. A group of 20 people behaves differently from a group of 200, or 400, or 800. The question is: which number tells what size a congregation is?

How to Spend Your Board’s Time

by Dan Hotchkiss

Boards often criticize themselves for “getting too far into the weeds” of daily management detail. They know they should be spending more time envisioning the future and deciding big, strategic issues, but. But concepts like discernment, strategy, and vision seem rather soft and blurry. After trying to focus on them for a while, boards slip back to problem-solving with relief. (read more)