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.
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
Outlines the purposes, benefits, and risks of a nonprofit utilizing an advisory board separate from a governing board
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.
Audit Oversight Process
Details adequate financial oversight and how it is one of the central responsibilities of effective board governance
Discusses techniques and benefits of internal assessment of an organization
Beyond Scorecard and Dashboard Reporting
Aligning strategic plans with department and staff-performance goals
Board Governance Committee
Discusses the purpose, duties, and role of a board governance committee
Board Member Application
Sample form to be completed by a prospective board member
Board Member Commitment Pledge
Sample annual pledge of service for board members
Board Member Selection
Publications that may be helpful in selecting nonprofit board members
Board Self-Evaluation – Is It Time to Give Your Board a Check-up?
Outlines the purpose, importance, and means of board self-evaluation
Board Self-Evaluation Form - Full Board Evaluation
Evaluating the board as a whole
Board Self-Evaluation Forms - Board Member Evaluation
Evaluating a fellow board member
Board Self-Evaluation Forms - Board Member Individual Assessment
Evaluating their own personal board performance and involvement
Board Self-Evaluation Overview
Discusses board self-evaluation and includes links to sample board self-evaluation forms
Board Service: An honor or a duty?
Outlines the importance of effective board service as both an honor and a duty
Board Voting by Proxy
Discusses the implications of board voting by proxy
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.
Campus Preservation Planning Legal Risk Evaluation Tool
The Campus Preservation Planning Legal Risk Evaluation Tool will help you more clearly understand your church’s current risk profile.
Checklist for Churches Demonstrating Integrity in Compensation-Setting
Steps to integrity in compensation-setting
Church Governance Resources
Resources on church governance issues
Conducting Effective Board Meetings
Outlines the important role of the board chair in planning and leading effective board meetings
Conference Call Board Meetings
Includes a compilation of state government legislation on teleconferencing
Discusses the bylaws and articles of incorporation for a nonprofit organization
Covenant of Confidentiality
Nonprofit boards may use this sample covenant of confidentiality to protect the confidentiality of a ministry
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.
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.
Executive Committee and its role for ministries
Describes the potential role of an executive committee of a ministry board
Executive Compensation Policy for Nonprofit Organizations
A Board’s determination of the nonprofit’s senior staff members’ compensation is one of its key tasks.
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.
Finance Committee Charter
Sample Finance Committee Charter
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.
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.
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.
You Can't Eliminate All Fraud - But here are some resources to help reduce its likelihood
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.
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?
Handling Conflicts of Interest
Practical approaches for boards
Independent Board Members
Outlines ECFA's requirement regarding independent board members
Internal Control Resources
Publications that include information on internal control
Is Your Ministry Too Close to the Edge?
Discusses various forms of risk management for nonprofit organizations
Guidance for leadership transitions in nonprofit organizations
Making Vision a Reality
Effective strategic plans and how to implement them
Ministry Board Service
Boards seem to give little thought to qualities that separate good boards from the very best
Mission Creep 1 – Blueprint for Mission Creep
Why organizations drift from their mission: finances, personnel, organizational structure, demographics, or philosophy
Mission Creep 2 – Temptations and Solutions
Why organizations drift from their mission and how to avoid drift -- "all great causes are not your cause."
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.
Position Description -- Individual Board Members
Describes responsibilities and characteristics for individual board members
Position Description – Board Chair
Board Chair position description
Position Descriptions – Board Secretary
Board Secretary position description
Position Descriptions – Board Treasurer
Board Treasurer position description
Position Descriptions – Board Vice Chair
Board Vice Chair position description
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.
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
Recording Governing Board Minutes
Outlines the importance of and procedures for recording board meeting minutes, including a sample set of minutes
Recruiting Board Members
Outlines some helpful board recruitment strategies to develop and maintain an effective board
Renewing Your Vision
The importance of keeping God’s vision for ministry in focus
Sample Board Ethics Policy
A board's commitment to biblical, ethical, businesslike, and lawful conduct
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.
Staff and Volunteer Ethics Policy
A nonprofit's staff and volunteers' commitment to biblical, ethical, businesslike, and lawful conduct
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.
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.
Term Limits for Boards
Outlines the importance and strategy of term limits for boards
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.
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.
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.
Tough Decisions for Boards
Discusses elements of making effective board meeting decisions
Travel Expense of Board Members and their Spouses
Outlines the issues surrounding board member and spousal travel reimbursements
What Is the Board's Role in Fundraising?
Looks at the specific roles of board members in fundraising