Knowledge Center

The Knowledge Center provides 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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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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7 Ways to Avoid a Financial Train Wreck

The clear communication and understanding of church finances is a key to avoiding a financial train wreck and helping a church be a positive witness for Jesus Christ. 

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A Board Prayer

“Dear God . . . Grant us the joy of arriving at adjournment closer to one another because we are closer to You.”

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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 church boards respond to empty chairs at board meetings.

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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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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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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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Best Practices in the Boardroom

5 Steps to More Effective and Accountable Leadership

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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 Ethics Sample Policy

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

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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 Secretary – Sample Position Description

Board Secretary position description

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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: 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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Break Bread, Not Relationships

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

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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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Checklist for Churches Demonstrating Integrity in Compensation-Setting

Steps to integrity in compensation-setting

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Church Board Member Annual Affirmation Statement

A discussion of the annual church board member affirmation statement

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Church Board Sample Minutes

Sample minutes for a church board meeting

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Church Governance Resources

Resources on church governance issues

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Common Misconceptions of Board Members

Understanding board member myths can lead to improved governing effectiveness.

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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 Statement for Churches

Conflict of interest policy statement

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Conflicts of Interest Sample Policy

Discusses conflicts of interest and related-party transactions, and 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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Defending Risks Everywhere Is Not a Strategic Plan

You must discuss the risk elephant in the boardroom.

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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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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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Eliminate Fuzziness Between Board and Staff Roles

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

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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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Every Church Needs a Conflict of Interest Policy

Boards often become convinced they are making a decision in the best interest of the church, but they fail to consider how the decision will appear on the internet and social media.

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Executive Compensation Policy – Church

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

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Executive Compensation Process – Sample for Churches

Sample Executive Compensation Process

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Finance Committee Sample Charter

Sample Finance Committee Charter

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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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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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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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Guarding Your Pastor’s Soul

Senior pastor moral failures are devastating to churches. Wise boards invest time—up front—to ensure the pastor’s soul is not neglected.

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Handling Conflicts of Interest

Practical approaches to assist boards in understanding real or perceived conflicts of interest

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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 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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Improving Your Church 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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Is Your Board Color Blind to Hazardous Condition Signs?

What color is your boardroom flag?

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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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Keeping the Boardroom Afloat

Are too many staff causing the boardroom to capsize?

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Legal Risk Evaluation Tool

The Legal Exposure Evaluation Tool will help you more clearly understand your church’s current risk profile.

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Leverage the 80/20 Rule in the Boardroom

Invest 80% 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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Never Throw Red Meat on the Board Table

Boards need advance preparation to fully address complex issues.

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Pastor Pay—It’s About More than Just Money

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

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Prioritize Prayer Over Problems

Create space for prayer—serious supplications for serious work.

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Public Access to Church Board Meetings or Board Meeting Minutes

Discusses any legal requirements and the propriety of granting public access to church 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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Ready for a Board Breakthrough?

Announcing 3 Transformational Tools for More Effective Governance

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Recording Church 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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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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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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Staff and Volunteer Ethics Sample Policy

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

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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 Bully in the Church Boardroom

??God, the pastor, the board chair, and other board members must neutralize the board bully.

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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 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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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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Thrive with Four Kingdom Values

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

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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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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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Unmistakable Integrity Starts with the Tone at the Top

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

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Wanted: Lifelong Learners

Would you trust a surgeon who stopped learning?

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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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What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Prepare your board now for the possibility of future accusations and investigations.

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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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You Made Me Better Than I Was

Church board experiences should leave all participants better than they were.

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