Thursday, February 19, 2009

Financial accountability a must!

This week, reports in the Toronto Star show how a Hamilton-based church, Dominion Christian Centre, recently had its charitable-status revoked due to unresolved concerns revealed by their auditors.  I have no comment as to whether these reports are accurate or not.  They do, however, point out the importance of financial integrity, accountability and transparency.  As our Board of Directors reviewed our annual auditor's report on Monday submitted by Mississauga-based Roetsch & Company, we were gratified to hear that we were, in their opinion, better than average compared to other non-profits that they were aware of.  They made a few suggestions for slight improvements and our Board immediately passed motions that came to effect immediately that not only met but exceeded their suggestions.  We have nothing to fear or to hide here at The Voice of the Martyrs and we are able to pursue the mission that God has given us legally and ethically without undue hindrance.  We are grateful for having to submit yearly to the scrutiny of our auditors, the Canadian Council of Christian Charities and the provincial and federal governments.  It makes us a better mission.

When I hear of ministries that have their status revoked, I am saddened, not especially for the organization itself but for the donors who were let down by those they trusted.  When I hear of people donating to organizations who actually refuse to register as a non-profit, I am actually distressed, however.  Quite simply, there are often reasons for this refusal to comply with government and auditing regulations that have little to do with their ministry goals, no matter how they spin it. One leader of a small ministry I know claims that he chooses not to be registered as a charity so that he may pursue his dream boldly, without the limits placed by law on charities. 

While it is admittedly not as easy to receive registered charitable status in Canada as it used to be, neither is it that difficult for a group who is prepared to act with financial and organizational integrity. The guidelines set forth are not excessively onerous and do not require any sort of compromise of biblical standards. Not once in the twelve years that I have been with The Voice of the Martyrs have I felt that Canadian law on charities has actually hindered our ministry. It does require us to act completely above board and in accordance to ethical and legal standards. The charitable laws in Canada are in place not to control charities but to protect donors.

Please, be careful not to reward groups who can't be bothered with accountability with your support, even (especially) if they disguise it in noble language.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I have no comment as to whether these reports are accurate or not."

Peter Rigo has. He took his first statement down and put up one I think was suggested by cooler heads.

He also came by BDBO to say blogs such as ours aren't as accountable as media (wrong) that the CRA was going to deal with lawyers (he has right to objection to the ruling)

It's everyone elses fault - CRA worked with his church for 2 years.

I had questions for him I suspect he won't be back to answer, his comments seem like a hit and run. I hope I'm wrong.

I think it's very important we hear from leaders of transparent groups and churches regarding the rules, pros, cons, and what you've said here.

Thanks. In todays society were communication is so cross platform, transparency and accountability isn't optional. Bene D