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.
HeaderImage
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.
10 Fundamentals of Forming a Charitable Organization

10 Fundamentals of Forming a Charitable Organization

Click here to view this content.

10 Steps to Forming a Charitable Organization

10 Steps to Forming a Charitable Organization

Click here to view this content.

Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy

Sexual harassment policy that may be used by ministries as a guideline for creating their own

Click here to view this content.

Applying for Tax-Exempt Status

Outlines how a nonprofit may apply for tax exempt status

Click here to view this content.

Approval for Overtime Hours

Approval for overtime hours

Click here to view this content.

Assumption of Risk/Liability Waiver

Obtaining an assumption of risk/liability waiver may be very appropriate when churches or other charities sponsor activities that are physically, mentally, socially or emotionally demanding.

Click here to view this content.

Background Screening Obligations and Checklist

It is important for Christ-centered churches and nonprofits to understand their obligations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when becoming end users of background screening services.

Click here to view this content.

Charitable Solicitation Registration - The Unified Registration Statement

Explains the unified registration statement used by many states for charitable solicitation registration

Click here to view this content.

Charitable Solicitation Requirements

Charitable solicitation registration state-by-state survey

Click here to view this content.

Closer Looks in Tough Times

Discusses the importance of reference checks when hiring new employees

Click here to view this content.

Comparison of Churches, Religious Orders, and Other Nonprofit Organizations

Outlines the key distinctions between churches, religious orders, and other nonprofit organizations

Click here to view this content.

Compensation for a Disqualified Person

Checklist to be used by a nonprofit to document compensation for a disqualified person to avoid future intermediate sanctions problems

Click here to view this content.

Compensation Survey Resources

Lists several publications that contain surveys of nonprofit compensation

Click here to view this content.

Determining Reasonable Compensation Related to Earlier Undercompensation

Discusses a Tax Court case in which compensation paid to a company’s founder was found to be appropriate due to previous undercompensation

Click here to view this content.

Disclosure of Form 990 Voluntarily

Suggested statement to be provided with a Form 990 voluntarily prepared by a ministry not required to file by the IRS

Click here to view this content.

E-Filing Requirements for Form 990

E-filing now required for large nonprofits

Click here to view this content.

Employee Confidentiality Agreement

Sample employee confidentiality agreement that may be used by nonprofits as a guideline to establish confidentiality expectations within their organization

Click here to view this content.

Employee Handbook -- Sample

Sample employee handbook to modify and adapt for your organization

Click here to view this content.

Employee vs. Independent Contractor

Outlines differences between an employee of a ministry and an independent contractor

Click here to view this content.

Employment Evaluation Form Resources

Lists Websites that contain sample employment evaluation forms

Click here to view this content.

Establishing Executive Compensation for your Ministry

Outlines considerations to be made by a nonprofit when establishing executive compensation

Click here to view this content.

Excess Benefit Transactions

Discusses and defines excess benefit transactions for 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organizations

Click here to view this content.

Executive Compensation - Committee Charter

This sample charter includes the purpose, composition, organization, and responsibilities of the committee.

Click here to view this content.

Executive Compensation - Philosophy Statement

This sample document outlines an organization's philosophy of executive compensation.

Click here to view this content.

Federal Public Disclosure Requirements

Outlines the disclosure rules for Form 990 as required by the IRS

Click here to view this content.

Fiscal Agent

One who acts for or in place of another based on limited financial or accounting authority from the person engaging the agent.

Click here to view this content.

Fiscal Sponsorship

Charities that have not attained 501(c)(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sometimes ask charities that have 501(c)(3) status to process donations for them as a “fiscal agent” and provide charitable receipts for donors. While it is inappropriate for an organization to be a “fiscal agent” and simply receipt and “pass through” or act as a “conduit” for donations intended for another charity, it may be appropriate for an organization to provide administrative services for another charity. These administrative services are sometimes referred to as “fiscal sponsorship.”

Click here to view this content.

FLSA Requirements Regarding Enterprise Coverage for Nonprofits

In the context of reviewing the impact of the FLSA changes for our organization, if we do not appear to meet the requirements for enterprise coverage, does that mean we do not need to comply with FLSA requirements?

Click here to view this content.

Foreign Missionary Filing Exemption

Discusses the exemption of certain foreign missionary organizations from filing IRS Form 990

Click here to view this content.

Form 990 Software

Reference to IRS list of Form 990 software providers

Click here to view this content.

Form 990-related Policies and Procedures

Links to policies and procedures related to the Form 990

Click here to view this content.

Four Common IRS Church Audit Issues

Church tax audits can be frightening, more so now than ever, with the prevailing climate with IRS tightening its controls on nonprofits. Attorney Courtney Jones shares four key IRS audit issues and how to manage them.

Click here to view this content.

Honoraria

Discusses honoraria payments and potential conflicts of interest related to them

Click here to view this content.

Housing Allowance and Commissioning of School Employees

Discusses IRS ruling on school employees and their eligibility for a housing allowance

Click here to view this content.

Housing Allowance Worksheets

Worksheets that may be used by ministries to officially designate the housing allowance

Click here to view this content.

Implications of Section 4965 - Excise tax on tax-exempt organizations

Section 4965 imposes an excise tax on tax-exempt organizations and their managers for involvement in prohibited tax shelter transactions.

Click here to view this content.

Intellectual Property for Religious Organizations Guidebook

Intellectual Property for Religious Organizations Guidebook and Forms 2015 Edition by The Church Law Group.

Click here to view this content.

Intermediate Sanctions

Under the Intermediate Sanction rules, the IRS can penalize nonprofit insiders. The sanctions are considered "intermediate" because they penalize the individuals involved without taking away an organization's tax-exempt status.

Click here to view this content.

IRS Form 990-N (e-Postcard) Filing Requirements

The IRS continues to lower the threshold for e-filing of Form 990 by charities.

Click here to view this content.

IRS Forms for Exempt Organizations

List of IRS forms created for tax-exempt organizations

Click here to view this content.

Joint Venture Policy (Abbreviated Version)

Organizations should consider adopting a joint venture policy if the organization has entered into or is considering entering into a joint venture agreement. See an abbreviated version of a joint venture policy.

Click here to view this content.

Leased Employees

Discusses issues relating to nonprofits utilizing leased employee arrangements and the related housing allowance implications

Click here to view this content.

List of State Regulatory Agencies for Solicitations by Charitable Organizations

The following is a contact list of state agencies that have oversight of charitable solicitations.

Click here to view this content.

Loans with Below-Market Interest Rates

Outlines the appropriate tax treatment of loans with below-market interest rates

Click here to view this content.

Maternity Leave Policy

Establishing a proper maternity leave policy may require compliance with certain federal laws and various other considerations.

Click here to view this content.

May employees covered under the FLSA donate or volunteer time for their employer?

Ask ECFA Question from ChurchPulse - May employees covered under the FLSA donate or volunteer time for their employer?

Click here to view this content.

Microsoft Charity Licensing

Many Christian churches and ministries have been uncomfortable with the Microsoft charity licensing program for Office 365 because it requires them to certify they don’t discriminate in their employment practices regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. On October 8, 2015, Microsoft addressed these concerns and posted changes to its policy on their website.

Click here to view this content.

Military Leave Policy

Federal law protects members of the uniformed services from certain workplace uncertainties.

Click here to view this content.

Ministers and Social Security Tax

Outlines the applicability of social security tax to ministers

Click here to view this content.

Ministers Opting Out of Social Security

Ministers may opt out of social security in rare situations. Unfortunately, this option is often promoted as a way for any minister to get out of paying into the social security system. This document clarifies these issues.

Click here to view this content.

Nepotism Policy

Policy on the employment of related individuals

Click here to view this content.

Nonprofit Employees and Severance Pay

Determining whether, when, and how severance pay may be provided to nonprofit employees who are terminated from employment is a challenging issue. A memorandum provided to ECFA by Mosher & Wagenmaker, LLC, Attorneys at Law in Chicago suggests that severance pay may be lawful and appropriate under certain circumstances, provided that applicable safeguards are satisfied.

Click here to view this content.

Obtaining Form 1023 Copies

Discusses proper accounting methods for Form 990 reporting and procedures to follow when changing accounting methods

Click here to view this content.

Overtime and Minimum Wage Exemption Rules

Outlines revisions to the rules amending the Fair Labor Standards Act

Click here to view this content.

Ownership of a For-Profit Organization

Outlines the accounting and reporting guide-lines for nonprofits that own all or a portion of a for-profit entity (SOP-94-3)

Click here to view this content.

Personnel Files

Guidelines for maintaining quality personnel files

Click here to view this content.

Policies and Procedures Governing Local Chapters, Branches, and Affiliates

If an organization had local chapters, branches or similar affiliates during the year, the Form 990 asks if there are written policies and procedures governing their activities to ensure consistency with the activities of the organization. If the answer to this question is No, an explanation is required in Schedule O as to how the organization ensures that the local unit’s activities are consistent with its own.

Click here to view this content.

Political Activity by Churches-Ministries

This is a summary of the rules governing the conduct of activities related to elections by a church (or parachurch organization).

Click here to view this content.

Qualifications for Ministerial Tax Status

Discusses the qualifications an individual must attain to be granted ministerial tax status

Click here to view this content.

Reasonable Compensation

Outlines the Internal Revenue Code’s criteria for reasonable compensation

Click here to view this content.

Reducing Staff Turnover

Discusses workplace and hiring strategies that will help reduce ministry staff turnover

Click here to view this content.

Reimbursing Interview Expenses

Reimbursing job candidates for interview-related expenses is commonplace. Understanding the tax implications of these reimbursements is important.

Click here to view this content.

Religious Discrimination in Hiring

Discusses Title VII’s protection of churches’ and ministries’ right to discriminate on the basis of religion in hiring practices, includes a sample nondiscrimination policy

Click here to view this content.

Religious Order Characteristics

Outlines the IRS guidelines for determining if an organization qualifies as a religious order

Click here to view this content.

State Unemployment Compensation and Religious Organizations

Outlines state unemployment compensation and its application for religious organizations

Click here to view this content.

Tax Publications for Exempt Organizations

List of IRS publications relevant to tax-exempt organizations

Click here to view this content.

The Clock and the Paycheck

One of the primary challenges of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), is to determine who is covered and who is exempt under the law. The proper classification of workers as employees or independent contractors is also an important consideration in effectively administering the FLSA.

Click here to view this content.

The Latest in Evangelistic Trends: International Arms Trafficking!

If your church or ministry sends computers and software outside of the United States, you may be violating federal regulations (punishable by jail time and fines) without even knowing it.

Click here to view this content.

The Minister’s Housing Allowance

The proper designation of a cash housing allowance can result in significant tax savings for the qualifying minister. It is important to follow key steps to maximize the housing allowance exclusion.

Click here to view this content.

Transparency Required under ECFA’s Standards in Addition to Disclosures Required by Federal Law

Federal law requires charities to disclose Forms 1023, 990, 990-T and 5227 when requests are made in person or in writing. However, ECFA’s Standard 5 goes beyond Federal regulation.

Click here to view this content.

Tuition Reporting Requirements

Outlines the information reporting requirements for colleges and universities for qualified tuition payments

Click here to view this content.

Unrelated Business Income Policy

Provides an overview of unrelated business income and a series of questions designed to help your organization determine if you have any unrelated business income

Click here to view this content.

Unrelated Business Income Tax - In General and Applied to Mailing Lists and Affinity Credit Cards

The revenue a charity receives from the sale of mailing lists and the fees from affinity credit cards may generate unrelated business income.

Click here to view this content.

Use of Email and Internet Services

This policy outlines permissible email and Internet use for church and nonprofit staff.

Click here to view this content.

What Is a Nonprofit?

Discusses the characteristics of a nonprofit

Click here to view this content.

Work Made for Hire

Outlines the copyright law regarding work made for hire by employees of a nonprofit organization

Click here to view this content.

Navigation