Why should we join ECFA?
ECFA membership is tangible assurance to your donors that their contributions are being handled in accordance with high standards of integrity. Having such assurance, donors will be able to give with confidence to your ministry programs.
When can we apply for membership with ECFA?
ECFA accepts applications from evangelical churches and other organizations functioning for at least one year. Organizations other than churches must submit their IRS determination letter.
Can we tell our supporters that we are applying for membership?
No. If your organization is not a member of ECFA, please do not share your desire to join ECFA or your perceived adherence to ECFA Standards. Any such comments may falsely give the impression to supporters of your ministry that ECFA has approved or endorses your ministry. Because of this possibility for misinterpretation, please do not make any reference to ECFA until membership has actually been attained.
What if our total income is below $50,000? Can we still apply?
Please do not apply for ECFA membership until this threshold has been met. While ECFA membership fees are modest, an audit may cost several thousands of dollars. Those funds might be more wisely spent growing your ministry.
We are a smaller organization. Isn’t ECFA just for large organizations?
No. Although numerous prominent national ministries are ECFA members, the majority of members are much smaller. Nearly 40% of ECFA members have annual total income less than $1 million.
Do churches join ECFA?
Yes. The enhanced credibility that comes with ECFA membership can be very important to a church. Some of the largest evangelical churches in America are ECFA members.
Do we have to submit the application at certain times of the year?
ECFA gladly accepts applications for membership at any time during the year.
How long does the application process typically take?
Every application is thoroughly reviewed before it is presented to the ECFA Board of Directors for a vote. If an application is complete and compliance with ECFA’s Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™ is demonstrated, the review process will take approximately six weeks.
What if we are unable to get two reference letters from current ECFA members?
Applicants are asked to submit two letters of reference from current ECFA members. If this is not possible, ECFA will also accept reference letters from evangelical ministries who are not members, including local churches.
Do we have to have a full audit, or is a review or compilation okay?
Applicants with annual revenue of $3 million or more for the most recent accounting period are required to submit accurate and complete financial statements prepared in conformity with U.S. GAAP and audited by an independent certified public accounting firm in conformity with U.S. GAAS. Applicants with annual revenue of less than $3.0 million for the most recent accounting period may voluntarily submit an annual GAAP/GAAS audit.
Applicants with annual revenue of more than $2 million and less than $3 million for the most recent accounting period, not electing to voluntarily submit an annual GAAP/GAAS audit are required to submit complete and accurate financial statements (with disclosures) prepared either in conformity with U.S. GAAP or the modified cash basis of accounting, reviewed by an independent certified public accounting firm and apply certain financial controls. For purposes of this paragraph, the term “modified cash basis of accounting” means a comprehensive basis of accounting that includes recognition of property and equipment as assets, depreciation as expense, and debt, other than trade payables and ordinary accruals, as liabilities.(1)
Applicants with annual revenue of less than $2 million for the most recent account period not electing to voluntarily submit an annual GAAP/GAAS audit or review are required to submit complete and accurate financial statements (with disclosures) prepared either in conformity with U.S. GAAP or the modified cash basis of accounting compiled by an independent certified public accounting firm and apply certain financial controls.(1)
(1) Notwithstanding these provisions, ECFA may require any member to submit audited GAAP/GAAS financial statements as a condition of membership.
We don’t have an auditor. Does ECFA have any recommendations?
ECFA provides a directory of auditors in your area who perform work for other ECFA members (Business Directory).
The application asks for salary information. Should we answer this question using salary information from the recent fiscal year or current salaries?
Please submit salary information for your organization’s five highest paid employees. List the CEO even if he or she is not among the top five. Answer this question based on current employees and current level of salaries. Former employees should not be included on the list, even if they were paid for a portion of the year. All figures should be annualized amounts, even if the individual has not been employed for the entire year.
Does ECFA require an on-site visit prior to being approved into membership?
ECFA does not require an on-site visit in order to approve an application for membership. However, an on-site visit prior to admission to membership may be performed at ECFA’s discretion.
Once we become a member, must we renew our membership?
All member organizations must renew their membership every year by submitting an Annual Membership Renewal (AMR). Failure to submit a completed AMR in a timely manner may jeopardize the membership status of an organization.
If your fiscal year ends October through March, your AMR is due July 31 after the close of your year end.
If your fiscal year ends April through September, your AMR is due January 31 after the close of your year end.
What information does ECFA make public about our organization?
ECFA posts a Member Profile of every member in the member directory section of this site. A paper version is also available through our office to those interested persons who contact ECFA.
Does ECFA have recommended accounting or donor software to use?
ECFA does not recommend any software packages for ministry use. However, we provide a recent survey of software vendors for informational purposes.