Saying No to Gifts

Everybody knows that congregations require money, and most leaders know that to receive gifts, you usually have to ask for them. But sometimes donors offer gifts without being asked. This is a good thing—usually! But unasked-for gifts often have strings attached. Accepting them blindly risks letting donors choose the congregation’s course. Paradoxically, one of the most effective ways to encourage gifts is to adopt clear policies about when you will say no to them.

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Project, Spinoff, or Partner?

Churches and synagogues often serve as incubators for soup kitchens, food pantries, nursery schools, retirement homes, arts programs, and other worthy ventures. Once those ventures are established, how much control should a congregation have over them?

What Buck Stops Where?

A famous sign on Harry Truman’s desk declared, THE BUCK STOPS HERE. “The President—whoever he is,” Truman explained, “has to decide.” Truman’s example has inspired many leaders to accept appropriate responsibility. But a careless reading of his slogan can lead to the mistake of thinking that whoever can make a decision always should.

What Should a Governing Board Be Good At?

Many people dread board meetings, and for good reason. Boards spend too much time passively receiving information and transacting routine business. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Some boards have interesting meetings. Clergy and lay board members feel their time and energy has been well used. How do they do it?