BSEC at March to End Fossil Fuels

BSEC at March to End Fossil Fuels

On Sept 17th, some of our members and Ethics for Children students participated in the March to End Fossil Fuels, demanding investments in alternative greener options and a better future for our children. The kids even ended up being interviewed by a radio station from Tokyo. Care for the world is a basic ethical principle.
Some pictures from the event can be found below:

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Request for Proposals: Organizational Transition and Strategic Planning Consultant


Request for Proposals:

Organizational Transition and Strategic Planning Consultant



Organizational Background

The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture is a humanist spiritual organization working towards the goal that the aim of human life is to create a more humane society. Our responsibility is to enable individuals to improve their personal relationships, and to work with the larger community to create a better world.  To this end, Ethical Culture respects and welcomes a diversity of beliefs and fosters active engagement through “deed before creed”. 

There have been multiple projects and service activities that have emanated from our membership as BSEC over the years.  We “preach” values and practice from the “pulpit” each week as the place we reach for higher ground. And we are deeply committed to teaching our ethics and values for social justice to younger generations. 

BSEC is a 501(c)6 nonprofit religious congregation committed to creating a welcoming community for people of all ages, races, and religious beliefs and we are connected to the 25 societies and circles of the American Ethical Union.  

Context and Framing

As a congregation of Humanists, we pride ourselves as being free thinkers. This can be a strength and a weakness. Over the last 15 years we have not had a “clergy leader” stay with us for more than 3 years and we have never had an Executive Director. Over the many years we have been led and managed predominantly by the Board with a tiny staff.  As COVID shaped the last three years in many ways, the community experienced itself differently through zoom, and large gatherings have not occurred. 

We are about to leave the building we have occupied for over 80 years as a humanist gathering space. For many years, we have struggled under the weight of the details of property management leading to the decision to sell the property.  While it took a lot to come to the vote to sell the property and it was not an easy path, we managed to build a strong consensus among members.  Come June, our most prominent place of gathering will be no more. While we will be untethered, we are seeking a common anchor to do good in the world, committed to the next evolution with the hope of being increasingly clear of who we are and what we do. 


BSEC is facing an opportunity for significant organizational change.  While our membership is declining like most religious organizations, we now have resources to make key improvements to the overall leadership and management of our organization and strategically plan our new future. 

In June we will have a financial gain in exchange for the real estate. To come to this point we have grappled with some important and significant challenges. 

The next step before us is to solicit the help of an outside consultant as we establish some foundations for our evolution. We want to collectively explore, with strong facilitation, how we build a new collective, robust vision, fulfill our mission and strengthen our relevance in 2023 and beyond. This work will then inform our next steps: where we relocate, who leads, how we build our membership and their engagement, how we partner with community allies, how we staff our work, and what is to be our priority programming.  We hope to learn how to move forward to strengthen our role as Humanists in Brooklyn and to refortify our impact as an Ethical Culture Society.

Key questions we want to explore through this consultancy:

Who are we as an Ethical Culture Society? How do we represent ourselves to the world and what do we mean to ourselves?  As a group of people who do good in the world, how do we do it together? 

As individuals, we each touch ethical living and action in innumerable ways. We need to see what we have in common, how “we” may be defined, and to what values and principles we all claim to adhere to. What are our uniting principles and vision for what we can do and be in the world? 

What is our vision? What is our mission? Where do we want to go? What would we like to see BSEC do in the next era of our organization’s evolution?
The primary goal of this consultancy is to help us see and agree to our way forward.

Scope of work:

Organizational assessment:

  • Look over organizational records of our development and our history.
  • Engage in a listening tour of our members, committees, staff, and close allies.
  • Assess our strengths and weaknesses and determine where we need to build capacity.:  What are the leadership, communication, and process skills we need to learn or build upon? (Collaborative decision-making, meeting facilitation, using conflict as a growth opportunity, building trust, etc.)
  • Assess the roles and structures of Staff, the Board, and Committees.
  • Summarize and celebrate our ethical actions individually and collectively and identify the values that propel this work.
  • Determine how we may improve our communication processes.
  • Explore how our leadership, location, programming, and financial standing can support the vision of who we are.
  • Determine the potential and possibilities for member involvement.
  • Examine the people and groups we are currently aligned with, and which future partnerships will support our mission and vision.
  • Assess our practices regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Assess how we involve youth.

Recommendations & Deliverables:

The consultant will prepare a set of recommendations that can be tested with the board and membership. As the summer months will see tremendous physical transitioning, the process of engagement should align with the spring and summer of 2023 to help the organization prepare to make decisions and review a set of next step recommendations by Sept. 30, 2023. 

It is expected that through a process of appreciative inquiry, there will be recommendations for facilitated experiences to develop further the organization’s priorities, shared vision, renewed mission, relocation and financial plans. Establishing a strongly transparent and democratic process for engaged decision-making will be vital as BSEC will be facing many decisions this year, and beyond.  

We anticipate support to help the organization identify its core principles and shared vision, with attention to the roles different people may play and what may be the next set of job descriptions to assist with the changing needs.

Sample Deliverables:

    • Listening tour with all members
    • Create a series of experiences for member engagement and participatory research.
    • Interviews with some close allies or community partners (5-10)
    • Interview staff, both full time and part time and both current and recent, (if possible)
    • Summary of findings based on what is heard.
    • Facilitate a series of meetings, small and large, including a full Member meeting to report findings and test hypotheses of recommendations.
    • Facilitate process with the board to determine next steps for organizational development.
    • Training for Board, Staff, Committees and Members
  • Final written recommended action steps with next steps proposal or referrals regarding the following:
  1. Space Requirements: define our needs for physical space to support hybrid platforms, Ethics for Children and our Ethical Action and Ethical Living Programming.
  2. Clergy Leader Hiring: define our clergy leader needs and determine the hiring process.
  3. Best Practices: identify the best offerings of the other 25 AEU Societies in each of the areas of Ethical Action, Ethical Education and Ethical Living. 
  4. Youth and BIPOC Membership Development: develop a strategy and participatory research plan for increasing our Youth and POC membership.  We need to know the types of events, program offerings, outreach efforts and that will help us do so.
  5. Member Services.  With new resources, we need to know which services will most benefit our existing members. 
  6. Prioritized Budget: Guide the preparation of a multi-year budget including a Clergy Leader.
  7. Market BSEC: develop a plan to market BSEC 2.0 to wider and wider swaths of Brooklyn (plus our cyber population).

Formats for Communication

The consultant will have access to the Board of Directors and membership through its Organizational Transition Task Force on a weekly basis through designated liaisons (Staff, Executive Committee and Task Force member) who can help with the logistics for the consultancy including listening tours and the facilitated groups that can be convened. The meetings can be in person and via zoom. It is anticipated that there can be a report on a bi-weekly basis to ensure the process advances expeditiously and with support from the Board and the Task Force. 


Preliminary Timeline

  • Deadline for proposals: June 10, 2023
  • The work once contracted will move through the Summer to achieve a report to the members at the Fall member meeting.

Submitting a Proposal

What to Include in a Response
  • Organization Overview 
  • Include any relevant contact information, including who should be contacted with any questions we may have. 
  • Summary of Relevant Experience and Ability
  • See below, “What’s Important to us in a Proposal.”
  • Approach
  • A summary of how the Consultant proposes to undertake the scope of work.
  • Deliverables
  • What, specifically, would the Consultant provide? Refer to sample deliverables in the scope of work above, but alternative deliverables may be proposed.
  • Proposed Timeline 
  • Create a timeline with estimated completion dates and milestones for your projected work-plan.
  • Pricing
  • A cost proposal for the work to be performed including a budget, range $30,000 – $40,000 depending on scope of work.

  • Additional Information 
  • Any additional information that the Consultant wishes to bring to our attention is relevant to this RFP. 


What is important to us in a Proposal?

The contractor’s qualifications should demonstrate:

  • Demonstrated experience advising and coaching organizations in strategic planning and organizational development in times of critical change.
  • Experience with teams of volunteer boards, volunteer members and a small staff
  • Knowledge of nonviolent communication, team building processes, and collaborative decision-making
  • Knowledge of fiscal and real estate options for a non-profit 
  • Understanding of congregational life, a plus
  • Experience with and knowledge of Ethical Culture, a plus

The proposed approach should include:

  • A clear response to our proposed scope of work and a clear justification for any proposed elements or deliverables that differ from the sample scope of work.
  • Relevant experience
  • Participatory methods proposed that engage members, the board and staff.
  • Time frame projection of deliverables 
  • Persons and time allocation to achieve the deliverables. 
  • Cost proposal

How to submit

  • All proposals must be submitted by June 10, 2023. Please send proposals to
  • If you have any questions before or after submitting your proposal, please contact Janice Novet (
  • Once submitted we will notify you by email if we need any further information. You can expect a response to your proposal within two weeks. 



BSEC at March to End Fossil Fuels

Dance at BSEC

On April 30th, BSEC, in collaboration with Good Neighbors of Park Slope, had a community dance, led by Laurie Shayler, from Dance Connection.
It was a lovely night, full of gracious steps and many fun missteps, with about 50 friends of all ages, sharing a great night with music, dance, wine, and snacks.
Some pictures from the event can be found below: