FAQ - Choosing a Ministry to Support

Who is the best ECFA member organization to support?

ECFA does not rank its members. ECFA examines all members annually for compliance with ECFA Standards, and noncompliance with any one Standard is grounds for dismissal from membership. Having met ECFA Standards, all members are worthy of support and are judged to handle donations in an appropriate and ethical manner.

Does ECFA rate its members based on effectiveness or efficiency?

No. ECFA believes rating its members against one another, to determine on behalf of donors the "best" organizations to support, is not a responsible means of assisting donors in good stewardship decisions. Rather, each ECFA member is measured against an independently established set of standards. All standards must be met to be approved as an ECFA member. Rating organizations use selected data on which to base their ratings. ECFA does not believe that evaluating an organization’s faithfulness to God’s calling can or should be reduced to mere numerical calculations. Measuring changed lives, turned hearts and saved souls could only be subjective, at best. ECFA’s philosophy encourages donors to establish their own criteria, based on their own values and expectations.

What is an acceptable percentage for a ministry to spend on fundraising or administration?

ECFA does not mandate that members abide by arbitrary percentages for ministry expenditures. We have not defined "acceptable percentages" because ECFA believes such a percentage does not exist. Very well-run and effective ministries may have percentages that could be viewed as below par, while ineffective and poorly run ministries may have percentages that are viewed as "good." Additionally, with an arbitrary cutoff, a few tenths of a percentage could mean the difference between an acceptable ministry and one that is deemed unacceptable. Because of these shortcomings, ECFA does not have an "acceptable" percentage for its members to adhere to. Rather, ECFA requires disclosure of financial activity and allows individual donors to decide for themselves what an acceptable percentage is in their eyes. For further insights into this topic, please read the article entitled The Common Myths about Ministry, Overhead, and Efficiency.

Which organizations in your membership are the most efficient in terms of the percentage of donated money actually being spent on ministry objectives rather than fund raising or overhead?

ECFA does not rank its members according to percentages. There are many variables that may affect the percentages, including: the age and size of the organization, the popularity of its purposes, differences in accounting procedures, or numerous other factors.

Donors to ministries should believe in the ministry, its leadership, and the goals that it is trying to achieve. Although financial ratios are important, ECFA tries to dispel the myth that the organization with the lowest percentage of fundraising and overhead is the most efficient or effective and therefore worthy of support. For further insights into this topic, please read the article entitled The Common Myths about Ministry, Overhead, and Efficiency.

Are organizations that are not members of ECFA to be considered unethical or unworthy of financial support?

No. ECFA membership is voluntary and there may be various reasons why an organization may not choose to become a member of ECFA. Many organizations may not subscribe to the evangelical Christian statement of faith. Some organizations are too small to justify the cost of annual financial statements (a requirement for membership). There are others that may not have a board governance structure that conforms to ECFA Standards.

The organizations that are members of ECFA have voluntarily chosen to use ECFA as a tangible means of demonstrating accountability and excellence. They have submitted themselves to the scrutiny of ECFA in their desire to operate in keeping with the scriptural principles of II Corinthians 8:21 (NIV): "For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord, but also in the eyes of men."

ECFA publishes a Giver’s Guide, which is intended to help donors know what to look for, and what questions to ask, before giving to any charity. The Giver’s Guide includes a Donor’s Bill of Rights which details the information to which ECFA believes donors are entitled.

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