How do you know?

I have the privilege of spending much time visiting MAF’s friends and supporters, and recently the question came up, “How can I tell if a nonprofit organization is worthy of my support?”.

This is a very good question! If you are like most of us, you likely receive a lot of mail—both snail mail and email—from nonprofits seeking some sort of support, whether that is your prayer, your time, or a monetary gift. There are so many good causes that it is (unfortunately) impossible to help them all. But how does one choose?

When considering which organization to support, my wife, Tanya, and I look at the following:

1. Is the nonprofit organization and its work in alignment with scripture? It is very important to us that the causes we support follow what is written in God’s word. Look at the organization’s website and written communication, read its mission statement and organizational values. Are they biblically based? And, does it appear that the group’s actions, as well as its words, are in line with scripture?

2. Does the nonprofit have longevity and stability? Does it have a long record of success? Does it have stable leadership, or does it appear to be in flux? As past performance is usually an indicator of future performance, I usually look at what has been accomplished in the past as well as plans for the future.

3. Does the nonprofit achieve what it promises? Does it deliver results? Ask for reports about projects, particularly projects for which the group has been raising money. Look for specific, measurable results. For example, “In 2012, nutritious meals were provided twice-daily to 756 children attending the school in Port-au-Prince.” Don’t be shy about asking for more information about what the group accomplishes.

4. Is the nonprofit transparent? Does it share its financial statements online? Will it send you information if asked? Is it obvious what the group believes, what it is doing, and how it is using the money received from donors?

5. To whom is the nonprofit accountable? Is the group part of some council that holds its members to high standards? In the case of Christian organizations, I look for membership in ECFA, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, which performs a rigorous initial review of any group seeking membership, followed by annual reviews and even occasional onsite visits. You can learn more about ECFA and its members at www.ecfa.org.

6. Do the organization’s leaders live modest lives? No one should be getting rich from sharing the Gospel or helping those in need. Opulent homes and lavish lifestyles could be a sign that something is amiss.

In addition to the above, I encourage prayer about giving decisions. The very best guidance comes from our Lord and from his holy word. That’s also where you will find these encouraging words:

So then, as we have opportunity let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” —Galatians 6:10

Should you ever have questions about MAF’s performance in any of the areas above, I would welcome the opportunity to chat with you. Feel free to contact me by email at OfficePresident@maf.org.

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