Thursday, December 8, 2011

Donors Can Approach Year-End Giving with Confidence

WINCHESTER, Va.,  Donors to charities during this year-end season for celebration and sharing may give with confidence by taking a few moments to learn whether a charity operates with integrity and is a trustworthy steward of its resources, says Dan Busby, president of ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability).

Givers can donate to a nonprofit more joyfully by knowing how a charity's funds are spent, and that the charity's appeals for donations are truthful and accurate.

"Enhancing trust is essential for faith-based and all other nonprofits, as donations are more scarce in this challenging economic environment," Busby said. "Every donor has the right to know what a gift will accomplish. Every donor should receive a prompt, straightforward, courteous response to their questions about its fiscal health and agenda."

To assist donors making giving decisions, ECFA has prepared a pair of checklists. In "Six Things Every Giver Should Know" ( www.ecfa.org/Content/SixThingsDonorShouldKnow), ECFA recommends the donor know what the gift will accomplish, whether the donation is going to an accountable charity and how to find a nonprofit that matches the donor's giving interests.

To that end, ECFA offers ServantMatch® ( www.ecfa.org/ServantMatch.aspx), a tool that links donors to charities that minister in almost 70 categories of specific needs, such as evangelism or ministry to children, or in a particular geographic location.

In the tip sheet "Good Charities Willingly Answer Tough Questions" (www.ecfa.org/Content/GoodCharitiesAnswer), ECFA helps donors discern whether the nonprofit is worthy of trust: Does the organization have a strong, clear commitment to a certain mission objective? Is there an independent board that oversees the organization's operations and accepts responsibility for its activities? How does the organization avoid conflicts of interest? Are the organization's financial records annually compiled, reviewed or audited by independent certified public accountants?

Donors considering gifts to faith-based charities may look with confidence to those that have received the ECFA seal of approval as worthy recipients of charitable donations, Busby said.

"The ECFA seal signifies a voluntary commitment of accountability to the giver by the organization," he said. "The only charities that can receive the seal are those that endorse ECFA's Scripture-drawn Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship(tm), which are essential to operating a ministry with integrity and transparency."

Surveys show that ECFA membership factors significantly into donation decisions. Christian donors increasingly look for the ECFA seal of integrity, accountability and sound financial practices before they give.

ECFA, founded in 1979, provides accreditation to leading Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with the ECFA standards pertaining to financial accountability, fundraising and board governance. To learn more about ECFA, including information about accreditation and a listing of ECFA-accredited members, visit www.ecfa.org or call 1-800-323-9473.

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