Knowledge Center

The Knowledge Center provides you access to hundreds of documents including policies,
procedures and a wealth of research on topics such as charitable gifts, expense
reimbursements, board governance, fringe benefits and much more.
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This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.
Accelerating Board Members to Full Engagement

Proven ideas to accelerate your board members, both new and long-standing, into full service

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Advisory Boards

Outlines the purposes, benefits, and risks of a nonprofit utilizing an advisory board separate from a governing board

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After Thank You and Good-bye

For a season, board members throw their minds, hearts, and financial resources into the organization, and then they leave. Unless you are intentional about trying to stem the natural progression of things, all those years of service to your charity very quickly fade to a pleasant memory.

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Benchmarks Matter

Discusses techniques and benefits of internal assessment of an organization

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Beyond Scorecard and Dashboard Reporting

Aligning strategic plans with department and staff-performance goals

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Board Governance Committee

Discusses the purpose, duties, and role of a board governance committee

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Board Member Application

Sample form to be completed by a prospective board member

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Board Member Commitment Pledge

Sample annual pledge of service for board members

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Board Member Selection

Publications that may be helpful in selecting nonprofit board members

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Board Review of IRS Form 990

Board Review of Form 990

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Board Self-Evaluation – Is It Time to Give Your Board a Check-up?

Outlines the purpose, importance, and means of board self-evaluation

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Board Self-Evaluation Form - Full Board Evaluation

Evaluating the board as a whole

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Board Self-Evaluation Forms - Board Member Evaluation

Evaluating a fellow board member

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Board Self-Evaluation Forms - Board Member Individual Assessment

Evaluating their own personal board performance and involvement

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Board Self-Evaluation Overview

Discusses board self-evaluation and includes links to sample board self-evaluation forms

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Board Service: An honor or a duty?

Outlines the importance of effective board service as both an honor and a duty

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Board Voting by Proxy

Discusses the implications of board voting by proxy

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Building a Better Audit Committee

Some nonprofit organizations have learned the hard way that good intentions aren’t enough to ensure an effective audit committee — both the organization and committee members must fully understand the committee’s role and responsibilities.

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Conducting Effective Board Meetings

Outlines the important role of the board chair in planning and leading effective board meetings

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Conference Call Board Meetings

Includes a compilation of state government legislation on teleconferencing

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Corporate Documents

Discusses the bylaws and articles of incorporation for a nonprofit organization

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Courage

Courage to stand in battle is essential to bring victory. The increasing pressures of our day suggest it is time for us to level up in terms of courage.

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Covenant of Confidentiality

Nonprofit boards may use this sample covenant of confidentiality to protect the confidentiality of a ministry

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Creating the Vision for the Next Board

Creating a vision for and drawing the blueprint for the future board is one of the most important legacies of a board.

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Disclosure of Governing Documents and Conflict of Interest Policy

Nonprofit organizations subject to the Form 990 filing requirements should determine how to respond to the Form 990 question about disclosure of certain governing documents.

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Doing Well

Editorial by Dan Busby, originally published in Focus on Church Accountability.

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Executive Compensation Policy for Nonprofit Organizations

A Board’s determination of the nonprofit’s senior staff members’ compensation is one of its key tasks. 

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Executive Director Job Description

Nonprofit organizations exist in all sizes with an emphasis on an array of causes.  Regardless of size, or whether the organization’s staff is made up of volunteers or employees, every nonprofit should have one person who is the effective leader that guides the organization.

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Fiscal Responsibilities of Boards

Board members act as trustees of the ministries assets and must exercise due diligence to make sure that the ministries are well-managed and financially sound. This article outlines the board's fiscal responsibilities.

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Five Board Governance Trends

Peter Drucker said, "The best way to predict the future is to create it." In this article, John Pearson shares five trends and best practices to help create your preferred board governance future.

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Fraud in Ministries: How to Respond

What to do if you detect fraud in your organization

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Fraud in Ministries: Real Examples and Red Flags

Ministries can implement a few simple internal controls to remove temptations from employees and protect resources from misappropriations.

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Fraud Prevention

You Can't Eliminate All Fraud - But here are some resources to help reduce its likelihood

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From the Pen of Olan Hendrix

ECFA is pleased to offer excerpts from Olan Hendrix's writings as a part of our Knowledge Center. Please find below many great topical articles that we hope will be a blessing to you in your ministry.

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Governance Overkill Syndrome

Nonprofit organizations are on a quest to seek out and attain good governance. The failure of a relatively small number of boards to do their jobs should not cause every nonprofit board in America to engage in remedial action that is unduly burdensome and unproductive, and that distracts board members from their true obligation--that of overseeing the effective carrying out of the mission of the organization itself.

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Governing Board Culture

We are confident we need to address our current governing board culture but we are not sure when and how to proceed. What do you suggest?

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Governing Board Minutes

Board Minutes - Sample

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Handling Conflicts of Interest

Practical approaches for boards

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How to Avoid Three Common Board Mistakes

You may have been on a board where one or more of these three mistakes were made. Avoiding these mistakes will improve the effectiveness of your board.

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Improving Your Board—One Step at a Time

Article by Dan Busby

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Independent Board Members

Outlines ECFA's requirement regarding independent board members

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Integrity Slipping?

Article by Dan Busby

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Internal Control Resources

Publications that include information on internal control

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Is Your Ministry Too Close to the Edge?

Discusses various forms of risk management for nonprofit organizations

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Leadership Succession

Guidance for leadership transitions in nonprofit organizations

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Leading God’s Way

The greatest leader who ever lived loved hanging around weak people

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Making Vision a Reality

Effective strategic plans and how to implement them

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Ministry Board Service

Boards seem to give little thought to qualities that separate good boards from the very best

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Mission Creep – Blueprint for Mission Creep

Why organizations drift from their mission: finances, personnel, organizational structure, demographics, or philosophy

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Mission Creep – Temptations and Solutions

Why organizations drift from their mission and how to avoid drift — "all great causes are not your cause."

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Nonprofit Board Member Annual Affirmation Statement

Sample Board Affirmation Statement

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Overcoming a Deficit of Trust and Truth

Trust is difficult to earn, easy to lose, and even more difficult to regain.

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Painting a God-Honoring End Enhances Trust

I've walked through all the emotions above and more. I am the president and CEO of a missionary research organization–Global Mapping International (GMI). GMI has provided research and mapping to help missions make Spirit-led decisions since 1984. We were part of supporting leaders as they sought God and utilized information for Kingdom impact. But today GMI is in the process of closing.

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Planning in Times of Uncertainty: An overview of the scenario planning process

This article explains the five main steps of the scenario planning process. Scenario planning involves exploring several ways the future may unfold and devising a strategy that will keep you moving forward no matter what happens. It is useful during times of disruptive change when long-range planning seems impossible.

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Position Description -- Individual Board Members

Describes responsibilities and characteristics for individual board members

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Position Description – Board Chair

Board Chair position description

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Position Descriptions – Board Secretary

Board Secretary position description

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Position Descriptions – Board Treasurer

Board Treasurer position description

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Position Descriptions – Board Vice Chair

Board Vice Chair position description

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Principles for the Faith-Based Nonprofit Fundraiser

In Principles for the Faith-Based Nonprofit Fundraiser, Patrick Ragan shares helpful insight into the fundraising process for nonprofits uniquely from a Christian perspective.  He begins by calling into question the traditional understanding of fundraising—shifting the focus back to “God-providing.”  Pat and his wife, Traci, serve at AMG International in Chattanooga, Tennessee, providing leadership for AMG’s Development and Donor Services departments, cultivating and strengthening ministry partnerships, and providing opportunities for growth in the area of Biblical stewardship.

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Public Access to Ministry Board Meetings or Board Meeting Minutes

Discusses any legal requirements and the propriety of granting public access to ministry board meetings or board meeting minutes

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Recording Governing Board Minutes

Outlines the importance of and procedures for recording board meeting minutes, including a sample set of minutes

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Recruiting Board Members

Outlines some helpful board recruitment strategies to develop and maintain an effective board

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Renewing Your Vision

The importance of keeping God’s vision for ministry in focus

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Rules

Each of us lives by rules.

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Sample Board Ethics Policy

A board's commitment to biblical, ethical, businesslike, and lawful conduct

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Sample Conflicts of Interest Policies

Discusses conflicts of interest and related-party transactions, and includes several sample conflicts of interest policies

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Sample Finance Committee Charter

Sample Finance Committee Charter

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Sample Staff and Volunteer Ethics Policy

A nonprofit's staff and volunteers' commitment to biblical, ethical, businesslike, and lawful conduct

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Spiritual Discernment

Dr. Stephen Macchia is one of the leaders of a growing spiritual discernment movement.  As Steve says:  “No matter who joins you at the discernment table, they bring with them their hearts . . . the condition of their hearts directly impacts the discernment process.”  May you bring a burning heart to the discernment table.

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Strategic Plans that Learn: An innovative alternative to traditional strategic planning

Traditional strategic plans often fail to produce the intended results. In business schools, strategic planning has been replaced with the broader concept of strategic management. Rather than doing long-range strategic planning every three years or so, it is far better to conduct periodic strategic reviews. The article describes six questions to use to guide strategic review meetings.

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Successful Succession

Succession is one of the greatest challenges facing leaders today. The issue of who will say "yes" next haunts those currently in command of organizations. This article focuses on principles of successful succession.

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Term Limits for Boards

Outlines the importance and strategy of term limits for boards

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The Audit Oversight Process

Details adequate financial oversight and how it is one of the central responsibilities of effective board governance

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The Executive Committee and Its Role for Ministries

Describes the potential role of an executive committee of a ministry board

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The Great Board Debate: How should ministry boards govern?

This article describes the pros and cons of policy based governance and the requirements that must be in place before making a transition. It examines the tendency of boards to swing from micro-managing to rubber-stamping and what to do about it.

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The Impact of Founder's Syndrome

Visionary leaders do not just experience personal stress but can also cause great organizational distress. Founder’s Syndrome occurs when an organization is driven more by the personality of the founder than by its own mission. It is an organizational problem more than a personal one. All institutions face this danger, but it is especially complicated in Christian settings, where founders often function as spiritual leaders as well.

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The Sober-Judgment Board

What is a biblical way to think about board self-assessment?  Dr. Philip Ryken, president of Wheaton College, suggests board members should “think with sober judgment” (Romans 12).  His outstanding article, "The Sober-Judgment Board," emphasizes the importance of a carefully structured, mission driven, and mutually accountable board.

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The Two Sides of Strategic Planning: How the Holy Spirit inspires our vision and our planning

Strategic planning has two sides and a middle—the visionary thinking side and the detailed planning side—linked together by current reality. Both sides are important and necessary. Like planning a family vacation, you have to decide on a great destination everyone will enjoy, but you also have to make lists and pack the car.

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Tough Decisions for Boards

Discusses elements of making effective board meeting decisions

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Travel Expense of Board Members and their Spouses

Outlines the issues surrounding board member and spousal travel reimbursements

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Unmistakable Integrity Starts with the Tone at the Top

Integrity appears in both very small ways and very significant ways.

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What Is the Board's Role in Fundraising?

Looks at the specific roles of board members in fundraising

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