Far East Broadcasting Co. (FEBC) Australia has been operating for 55 years; a member of FEBC International. We communicate the Good News among the nations by media to inspire people to follow Jesus Christ. While we have been well-led – functioning effectively and aiming to remain integrous in our dealings – it is becoming increasingly complex to comply with government standards and to administrate and govern in a faithful and God-honoring way.
As a mission seeking to raise our public profile nationally, we have been acutely aware that due to bad examples and abuses of trust from some charities, the general public has become more cognisant that it is not enough to blindly give support to organisations. This challenges organisations to reflect high levels of rigor, transparency, and authenticity. So, we applied to join the CMA Standards Council (CMASC), the peer accountability group (PAG) in Australia.
The CMASC application process included a forensic examination of where we were and what was required to lift our standards so that we would be above reproach. It enabled an external assessor to check our processes, policies, advertising, compliances, and leadership. It also allowed us to examine both where we were and where we desired to be.
The accreditation process is certainly detailed and time consuming, but this is one of its strengths, not a deterrent to participate. It is a strength by virtue of the fact that the key principles and standards of CMASC are such that every member should ensure that these are in place for their organisation.
It is not acceptable to be a God-honouring mission-aligned organisation with honest communication while lacking compliance and clarity on charitable status and risk management. The reverse is also unacceptable: being a compliant and effective organisation with good policies and financial oversight but with a mission or purpose that has moved or the God-first Christian ethos has changed course in the process.
CMASC brings a healthy balance to the critical items required. This is, in a way, an investment into the organisation and its board. The process of getting accredited is not one where CMASC judges the correctness or incorrectness of current operations and processes. Instead, it enables a mirror to be held up to show what is in place, against a picture of what other organisations, churches, regulators, and the general public would hold as standards of excellence. In that way, CMASC acts as a mentor, indicating areas where more work for the staff or discussion as a board may be required.
The fact that an annual review is carried out ensures that the work done is not just to gain a tick of approval. Rather, it is to bring about a culture of good governance that upholds and maintains sound standards and principles, which are transferable to new leadership and board members moving forward.
Getting accredited with CMASC benefitted FEBC Australia in three ways. Firstly, the FEBC Australia leadership and board has the confidence of knowing that everything is in place and accessible, and all compliances are being met should any audit or check be carried out by regulators. This helps minimise risk and is attractive for new board members invited to join.
Secondly, FEBC Australia can make known to the general public that we have obtained the CMASC accreditation, which is recognised by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). While the CMASC seal is not widely known or understood right now in Australia, more and more donors are seeking to invest their support wisely into organisations they can trust are sound, following good processes, and are aligned to godly mission outcomes.
Thirdly, CMASC may help FEBC Australia to attract increased support from both individual givers and institutional givers like churches and trusts. Givers, who support missions, get the importance of good accreditation. They understand that while the mission may be reporting good projects, if they are found to be doing things that are in any way questionable or not guarded by effective policies, then they themselves are in danger of repercussions.
My hope for CMASC is that it will become as well-known as ECFA is in the USA. ECFA is well-known in the USA, in Australia, and various other parts of the world. As it is a standard bearer to all responsible missions and churches across the USA, the ECFA seal has been required for many seeking to know where best to invest.
My hope for FEBC Australia is that we would always stand prominently as a foundation member of CMASC, and therefore be a ‘go-to’ for influential individual and institutional givers in Australia, given what I have shared above.
Finally, I hope that, through CMASC, a higher level of trust in the community toward missions and churches can be fostered – where effective mission work is accompanied by excellent standards of governance, good policies, due diligence, sound financials, godly and responsible leadership and resulting in amazing kingdom outcomes.