The following questions can help school leaders analyze issues related to finances as they meet with their management teams, Board, and donors. 

Communication

  1. During the crisis, how have you communicated with your senior leadership team, faculty, staff, and Board about the school’s current financial situation and plan? How will content and frequency of communications (in-person as well as online) need to change as you plan for reopening?
  2. In particular, how might you work with your Board to safeguard your school’s mission, rethink capital projects, and maximize use of fixed assets?
  3. During the crisis, how has your school communicated with donors, including local churches and individuals and international funders? Do donors know how the school is doing and what it is facing?  
  4. How will donor communications need to develop going forward? What do donors need to hear from you as you think about the future?
  5. How might you mobilize donor support specifically for reopening? For example, would donors be interested in investment opportunities like the following: The school’s online equipment needs? Laptops for faculty? Reliable internet access for faculty and students? Salaries for extra teaching assistants for faculty now educating online?
  6. How might your school use designated funds (building funds, scholarship funds) to address the crisis? Could you approach donors who have given designated funds to ask them if those funds could be repurposed for crisis mitigation? 

Income

  1. Have you composed a cash flow plan (a timetable for all expected income)?
  2. Have you realistically evaluated student revenue (i.e., tuition) as part of this plan, bearing in mind that enrollments may sharply decline in the coming term(s)?
  3. Have you also realistically evaluated donations, remembering that many donors may be in difficult financial straits themselves?
  4. Where applicable, have you made a realistic projection for any additional third-stream income (revenue from rentals, other business ventures, etc.)?
  5. What steps does your school need to take to manage third-stream income? Have you adjusted your projections for third-stream projects? Are there creative ways to repurpose these projects to generate new income?

Expenses

  1. Have you listed and prioritized the school’s expenses? Which costs are truly beneficial, and which are unnecessary? What cost areas are particularly burdensome? Could any costs be ended immediately – building operations, mission trips, book purchases, etc.? Could any costs be trimmed – telephone bills, stationery, printing, etc.?
  2. Does the budget account for new expenses related to the pandemic? These might include sanitizer, masks, gloves, food vouchers, emergency travel, etc. How will these change as the situation evolves?
  3. How might faculty and staff roles be shifted to lighten the school’s financial burden – keeping in mind the pressures that faculty and staff already face?
  4. For faculty in particular, will working from home lessen travel costs? Do faculty have bi-vocational opportunities (although these may necessitate a decrease in their responsibilities at the school)?
  5. How might your school repurpose discretionary funds to maintain core faculty and staff salaries?
  6. How might you appeal to your community (city government, utility providers, etc.) for assistance (where applicable)? Could fees for utilities or taxes be delayed or forgiven, for instance? 
  7. How could your school renegotiate contractual agreements to avoid budget deficits and litigation (if applicable)? These might include rent, credit, loan agreements, or service contracts. In particular, what critical debt resolution steps does your school needs to take to manage loans, overdrafts, and bad debts?

Emmanuel Bellon

Prof. Emmanuel Bellon is the former Vice Chancellor of Nairobi International School of Theology/International Leadership University and former President of five other institutions in four African countries. He is Vice President (Executive Network) of ScholarLeaders and Director of the Vital SustainAbility Initiative, designed to guide theological institutions in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Asia to plan strategically for institutional sustainability.

Evan Hunter

Evan’s passions for the Church and the seminary shape his work as Vice President for the ScholarLeaders LeaderStudies program and as Executive Editor for the InSights Journal for Global Theological Education. He joined ScholarLeaders in 2004 after working as a missions pastor and in campus ministry. He also serves on several boards, including those of the International Council for Evangelical Theological Education, Northern Pines Christian Family Camp, and Tyndale House Foundation. Located in Minnesota, Evan and his wife Becky keep up with three very active sons.

Evelyn Reynolds

Evelyn serves ScholarLeaders in communications and as an Editor for the InSights Journal for Global Theological Education. She joined the team in 2019. She manages foundation relationships and facilitates storytelling. She has a PhD in medieval English literature and an MFA in poetry, and she and her husband live in Indiana.

Linzay Rinquest

Linzay joined ScholarLeaders in 2020 to help lead the Vital SustainAbility Initiative. From 2006 to 2019, he was Principal/CEO of Cape Town Baptist Seminary in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2018, he was also President of the Baptist Union of Southern Africa. He continues to minister as a member of the National Executive of the Baptist Union of Southern Africa. He lives in Cape Town with his wife and three children.

Marcos Orison De Almeida

Marcos has served with the ScholarLeaders Vital SustainAbility Initiative since 2016. Since 1998, he has worked at South American Theological Seminary in Londrina, Brazil as a full-time teacher and in many administrative positions, including as President from 2006 to 2010. Marcos is also an Evaluator of Theological Institutions and Courses for the Brazilian Department of Education. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He received a LeaderStudies scholarship for his PhD at Fuller. He and his wife Patricia have two children.