Friday, July 13, 2012

Focus on Churches

For over three decades, ECFA has served churches. Today, four of the 11 largest churches in America are ECFA members. Through our member denominations and other associations of churches, ECFA’s reach extends to over 30,000 churches.
Now in 2012, ECFA is beginning a more intentional focus on the evangelical church community.
Why is ECFA highlighting its service to churches?  ECFA’s standards of accountability apply equally to churches and other nonprofit organizations. ECFA’s outstanding leadership in governance, financial management, and stewardship relates to churches and nonprofit organizations alike.
ECFA’s accreditation of a church sends a strong credibility signal to those who attend and support church ministries through tithes and offerings. Through ECFA’s 32-year history, givers have relied on the ECFA seal to enhance their trust in a church they support.
What are the commitments of an ECFA accredited church?  Accredited churches demonstrate their commitment to exceptional governance by utilizing an independent board (primarily comprised of non-staff, non-family members). They reflect their commitment to sound financial management policies and practices, including compliance with applicable laws. Additionally, they commit to handle stewardship issues with integrity—using giver-designated gifts for the intended purpose, providing proper gift acknowledgements, and much more.
When is the time for churches to partner with ECFA?  Today is the time for churches to step up and demonstrate their accountability, transparency, and integrity. Regulatory issues related to churches are more in focus on Capitol Hill now than at any time in my memory.
The three-year investigation of entities organized as churches was closed last year by Senator Charles Grassley. His staff produced a 61-page memorandum primarily relating to church issues. The Senator turned to ECFA to facilitate thoughtful responses on these matters. This placed ECFA at a pivotal place to speak into national tax policy for churches.
The article on page three of this issue summarizes the church-related issues under consideration by the national commission formed by ECFA: the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations.
How does a church partner with ECFA?  The highest level of partnership with ECFA is through the accreditation process. Accredited churches use the ECFA seal to communicate their high accountability status to givers. They have full access to the ECFA Church Knowledge Center, may participate in ECFA’s valuable Church Webinars at no cost, benefit from ECFA’s compliance program, and more.
Through our online membership application process, churches can easily file a membership application.
Even if your church is not accredited by ECFA, we provide an outstanding church subscription service at the silver, gold and platinum levels—all at very modest cost. A church subscription keeps you up-to-date on current issues of interest to churches and provides access to certain key documents in ECFA’s Church Knowledge Center.  Learn more about church subscriptions at: Whether as an accredited church member or a church subscriber, we look forward to opportunities to serve your church!