Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability
ECFA is an accreditation agency dedicated to helping Christian ministries earn the public’s trust through adherence to seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship. Founded in 1979, it is comprised of over 2,000 evangelical Christian organizations, which qualify for tax-exempt, nonprofit status and receive tax-deductible contributions to support their work.
ECFA’s Standards of Responsible Stewardship focus on board governance, financial transparency, integrity in fund-raising, and proper use of charity resources.
Compliance with the Standards is monitored in three ways. First, all ECFA members must annually submit membership review information including independent CPA financial statements, IRS Form 990 (if applicable), salary information, fund-raising appeals, board composition, changes in organizing documents, and much more to verify compliance with the Standards.
Accountability to God is vital, but people form their impressions of both people and organizations by looking at the outward appearances (1 Samuel 16:7). The basis for establishing ECFA and developing Standards of Responsible Stewardship is stated clearly by the Apostle Paul in 2 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.” Or, as the New American Standard puts it in verses 20 and 21, “taking precaution that no one should discredit us in our administration of this generous gift, for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” The Standards, drawn from Scripture, are fundamental to operating with integrity.
The ECFA Standards are seldom changed, providing members a steady baseline for consistent application of the Standards. The brief statements included in the Standards have significant implications; the Standards are simple but not simplistic. These are not Standards that allow for grading on the curve. Rather, they are pass-fail Standards. If a member fails even one of the Standards, it is disqualified from ECFA membership.