Best Skills Best Churches Program

Best Skills Best Churches logoThis program, offered through the Nonprofit Management Institute at the Arizona State University's Lodestar Center for Nonprofit Innovation and Philanthropy, is specially designed to meet the needs of communities of faith.

Courses will provide engaging, practice-oriented learning experiences that are focused on knowledge, skills, and techniques that can immediately be implemented in your faith-based organization. This program will provide you with an unparalleled opportunity to develop and enhance your leadership and management skills in order to best serve your faith community.


Volunteers in Service

Managing our most valuable assets: Volunteers in service.   People, whether they are employees or volunteers, are the life-force of any nonprofit organization.  This training session will provide tools for developing job descriptions, recruiting/hiring, orienting, training, and evaluating and coaching the performance of employees and volunteers.  Special emphasis will be placed on communication, motivation and recognizing volunteer and employee efforts including appreciation and celebration.

Legal Aspects of Governance

Participants will learn about the legal aspects of nonprofit governance. The role of the vestry will be discussed as high-quality leaders in the parish and their role in leading the church into the future.  An understanding and appreciation of the roles of board members will be discussed. The role of strategic planning in governance will also be discussed.

Effective Communication & Handling Conflict

This course will provide participants with a foundation for dealing with the types of internal and external communications needed to effectively manage staff, volunteers, and congregants.

Participants will explore various ways to address conflictual issues from governance to financial stability, and best practices in managing parish ministries programing.

Marketing & Community Presence

What is the public face of your faith-based organization in the larger community? What role does marketing play? How can you better use new technologies and relevant language to reach members and prospective members? How do you become known in your community?  How do you develop your brand?  This course will explore marketing concepts that offer an inviting message to the community and appeal to the non-attending people.  It will provide practical insights on using tools such as websites, blogs, Facebook, etc., to create a message that will resonate with and welcome people outside of your current membership.

Financial Management for Effective Service

How do you ensure you have the necessary resources to meet the mission of your nonprofit organization? Accounting practices for nonprofits will be explored, as well as ethical and legal/tax issues. In addition, budgeting, and how to read financial statements will be covered.

Fundraising Aspects of Stewardship

This course will explore tools to enhance your congregation’s stewardship and giving, with checks and balances to maintain transparency. This session explores the basics of philanthropy and the donor centered fund development process and how to create a plan that will result in effective fundraising strategies for staff and volunteers – even in tough economic times.  Discussion will be on how to raise enough funds to effectively cover the operating budget.


"Our partnership with ASU Lodestar: Best Skills, Best Churches, has been an important tool for recruiting new, out of state clergy to our churches. The Nonprofit Management Certificate program gives critical new tools to our current leaders. Its very existence tells new clergy that The Episcopal Diocese of Arizona is aware of the serious challenges our congregations face.  More importantly it communicates that we actively empower our leaders for a positive and effective future. With their own considerable talents, their communities of faith transform lives and change the world around them. Best Skills has been so well received that we have started a second track on the weekend for our Lay Leaders and Deacons. Interest has been high and we anticipate a successful year together." 
The Right Rev. Megan Traquair - Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California

"The program was initially created for just priests. But it proved so successful that last year we expanded the program to serve deacons and lay leaders as well. ... By the end of this year, we will have had nearly 130 clergy and lay leaders who have gone through the program. It is so popular that clergy and lay leaders from other denominations have joined us. ... You will find this experience will deeply impact the congregation you serve."
The Rt. Rev. Kirk S. Smith, Former Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Arizona


For additional information, please contact us at (602) 496-0500 or email nmi@asu.edu.

From the newsroom

Best Skills Best Churches graduates
Like many churches in the United States, Cheryl Farrell’s congregation is in transition, with a membership that skews older. Farrell, who is a moderator at Morningside United Church of Christ in Inglewood, California, learned practical skills to keep her church thriving at a unique program offered by Arizona State University. Best Skills Best Churches, a certificate program of six modules in ASU’s Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation, teaches clergy and lay leaders how to communicate, deal with finances and market their spiritual communities.
Best Skills, Best Churches 2016 class photo
These presbyters just completed a special program offered jointly by the Diocese of Arizona and the Arizona State University Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation. It’s called “Best Skills Best Churches: What Seminary Didn’t Teach You,” and was a six-part training for priests in nonprofit management.