AURORA, IL -- Despite the gyrating stock market and the uncertain domestic outlook, Americans still follow a traditional pattern, they give to their favorite charities. But there are so many charities. People want their gifts to make a difference. How do they decide where to give their money?
Most charities are honest, well-run organizations. Some are poorly managed and a few are outright frauds. What should you do before you write that check? Increasingly, Christians are looking for the seal of approval from ECFA--the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.
The ECFA seal--on appeals received in your mailbox or on the Web site of a charity--indicates that the organization complies with a strict set of standards covering board governance, independent auditing, financial disclosure and fund-raising practices.
Formed in 1979 in an effort to encourage financial accountability and excellence among Christian nonprofit organizations, ECFA now has nearly 1,500 members. These charities submit to a rigorous review process each year. ECFA also randomly performs site visits on members to look behind the application forms.
ECFA monitors large, nationally known ministries as well as smaller, yet equally vital, local outreaches. Some of the best-loved evangelical leaders are found in ECFA's membership.
A wide spectrum of ministries are represented within ECFA's membership, including crisis pregnancy centers, colleges and universities, rescue missions, missionary-sending organizations, camps and conference centers, relief and development organizations, outreaches to the handicapped, prison ministries, medical teams, radio and television broadcast, teen ministries and so much more.
Lutheran Bible Translators (LBT) is a charter member of ECFA. By virtue of its membership with ECFA, Lutheran Bible Translators is committed to demonstrating compliance with the ECFA Standards of Responsible Stewardship, thereby making itself accountable to the public.
It's easy to check up on ECFA members. You can learn whether a charity meets ECFA's standards by checking out its Web site, www.ECFA.org. Or call ECFA (1-800-3BE-WISE) to request a free copy of its "Giver's Guide." Call or write an ECFA member and they will send you a copy of their most recent audit report--no questions asked. In LBT's case, call Marshall Gillam at 630-897-0660 ext 19 or send a letter to Marshall Gillam, PO Box 2050, Aurora, IL 60507-2050.
Good Charities Willingly Answer Tough Questions
Before you give to any charity, ask these questions. Nonprofit organizations should be willing to supply the answers.
Donor's Bill of Rights
Make sure your charity's standards and guidelines assure you of a "bill of rights" as a donor. You have the right to: