We heartily applaud efforts to improve the handling of money by fund raising organizations. The formation of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) is especially welcome since it concerns the ministries with which most of our readers are especially concerned. (See news story, p. 48.) We’re constantly hearing blanket complaints that religious ministries are run by con men who are “just in it for the money.” But up to now, it has usually been easier to find out about the financial affairs of secular companies (especially if they’re publicly held) than about religious organizations that appeal to the public for their funds. Evangelical groups—most of whom already are conscientious and more or less competent stewards of the funds entrusted to them—can now more readily prove to the public that they have nothing to hide.
Among other requirements, ECFA members must have outside audits that are available to anyone. The majority of members of their governing boards are to be nonemployees, thereby allowing for more independent scrutiny and criticism.
In the background of the founding of ECFA was the fear of, and distaste for, impending government regulation. But proposed legislation, such as HR 41 (which did not pass), would have clamped a variety of awkward, and perhaps unworkable, stipulations on fund raising by charitable organizations. Credit must be given to the secular press for helping to bring about an atmosphere in which ECFA could emerge. We would only urge that responsible efforts at self-policing, such as ECFA shows promise of doing, be publicized by the same media that have called attention to deceit, or just to close-mouthedness, by some religious fund raisers.
It will be more than a year before ECFA ...1
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