Saturday, 5 January 2008
Donor's Bill of Rights
Stan Gardner has posted a proposed Bill of Donor's Rights for COG members.
You have the right to:
1. Know exactly how the funds of the COG organization are being spent, where Christian stewardship is not just a web policy for the sake of appearances, but an actual practice.
2. Know the salary and total compensation packages of key ministry, evangelists, executives, and board members.
3. Know what the COG programs you support are accomplishing or not accomplishing. Check and see if any outside ministry you are considering gifting to has a passing or failing financial transparency grade at www.ministrywatch.org.
4. Know that the organization and its employees comply with all federal and state laws, including tax regulations for nonprofit, tax-exempt ministries, including regulations against inurement or personal benefit from tithes and donations.
5. Be able to specifically designate and permanently restrict your COG gifts to fund a specific charitable or religious cause within the organization's mission objectives, such as helping widows and orphans, the sick, or the assistance of the needy or hungry.
6. A timely and courteous response to your inquiries about finances and programs, not incomplete or misleading Orwellian doublespeak about quarterly income and budget percentages as substitutes for periodic, complete financial reports.
7. Give without being pressured by the organization, or computer donation tithe-checked for loyalty or "member in good standing" roadblocks to HQ accountability.
8. Obtain a full copy of the ministry's most recent audited financial statements and charitable disaster fund statements - not a sanitized version with meaningless categories lumped together. Third tithe collected by the ministry and spent for that specific charitable purpose should be placed in distinct, separate categories on the financial reports.
9. Know that there is a responsible, qualified, governing board of members providing oversight to the church mission, accepting responsibility for board actions; not a rubber-stamp, unincorporated church association's board of elders, controlled legally by one man and one man only.
10. Know that all appeals for funds are truthful and accurate, and that conflicts of interest are avoided. Audited financial statements are absolutely not a "clean bill of health" or CPA guarantee of fiduciary integrity. CPA-audited financial statements can also hide church assets, real estate, gold bullion in Swiss bank accounts, payouts, or loans; provide inadequate retirement funding for employees, continue to "cook" the books, or materially misrepresent your COG's financial condition.
You have a right to timely, accurate, and compete sets of financial statements from your COG, and to know exactly how your money is being spent by your ministry.
Which has got to be good advice. Click on the link above to view the full article (dated 21 Dec.) Maybe there's someone out there who would like to contact Ron Dart and other moderate COG leaders and ask them to endorse this document. If you do, be sure to let us all know what response you get via the comments section! And if there's a COG group that meets these criteria (COG Big Sandy???) then let's give credit where it's due in the hopes others will follow the example.