As the world faces the largest refugee crisis since World War II (UNHCR), 51 million men, women and children—many of them Christians—are in desperate need of help. While Christians around the world are ready to provide spiritual, physical and emotional aid, these efforts are being hindered by ongoing global financial turmoil and a public distrust of governments, corporations and NGOs resulting from widespread financial scandal.
Nonprofits have made immeasurable differences in the lives of millions of people across the globe, in large part due to the skills, heart and passion of their volunteers and employees. While the power of personal, one-on-one interactions cannot be underestimated, much of the work could not be done without the funding provided by generous supporters. To gain the trust of individuals, foundations and groups desiring to give to these efforts, there must be some way to indicate that an organization has sound financial practices, or the good work they do could be endangered.
The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) exists to enhance trust in Christian churches and ministries in the United States. Founded in 1979 by a group of evangelical leaders who recognized a need for collective biblical financial accountability, we are now helping Christian nonprofit leaders from other countries establish similar organizations to provide the same level of accountability to nonprofits and churches in their home countries.
For example, the Evangelical Financial Accountability Council (EFAC) in India, established in 2008, has educated more than 100 churches and para-church organizations about the need for transparency to reduce corruption in this developing country that receives a great deal of outside funding for ministry.
In the Philippines, where major financial scandals continue to erode public trust, the Christian Council for Transparency and Accountability (CCTA) was launched in 2012. CCTA has worked to establish guidelines and governing principles, and will begin inviting potential charter members soon.
The widespread use of out-of-date accounting systems in South Korea, together with the new tax laws, has created a great need for training in financial transparency and compliance. Since 2014, some 20 nonprofits or churches have joined the recently established Christian Council for Financial Transparency, Korea (CCFK).
African Council for Accreditation and Accountability (AfCAA), an accreditation group in Kenya, will be launched later this year with the dream of developing a Pan-African organization. ECFA plans to send representatives to the opening event to show our commitment to encourage this entity, both at its inception and throughout its important work.
Last week, individuals and delegations representing these and 11 other nations attended the first-ever International Accountability Summit, held in conjunction with the Christian Leadership Alliance Conference in Dallas. The unifying factor was a shared interest in honoring God by raising the bar regarding financial transparency and accountability for churches and nonprofits around the world. The goal of the summit was to form a global network committed to the faithful administration of God's work.
In addition to biblical teaching, panel sharing, open discussion, worship and prayer, Dr. Gary Hoag, ECFA international liaison and ECFA Press author, delivered biblical insights on faithful administration for global application. Leaders from South Korea, Kenya, Australia, India and the Philippines reported on the associations they have formed or are in the process of forming. Attendees from nations such as Guatemala and Hong Kong left with a vision to convene people in their respective home countries to try establishing similar associations. Everyone discussed current challenges, committed to pray for one another, and resolved to put into practice the insights they learned from each other. It is encouraging to see how God is working to link organizations to financial accountability around the world.
No matter the language spoken or culture represented, the participants in the International Accountability Summit will, by God's grace, solidify the position of nonprofits and churches in their home countries, and help strengthen donor trust in order to further Kingdom work around the world. If you are eager to make a difference through a donation to a Christian nonprofit, consider visiting ECFA.org/servantmatch to find a trustworthy organization that could use your financial assistance.