Written by Curtis Towns, Head of Accreditation

During regular conversations with charities across Canada, many say they have noticed we have an Accredited Member option. Many also indicate having remembered seeing our Accredited Member Logo on the website or print materials of an Accredited Member. One of the common questions they ask is, Should our ministry get accredited by CCCC? While this is ultimately a question for the organization’s leadership to decide, my goal is to provide information about our Accreditation Program that will make that decision easier. I am certainly not interested in recommending accreditation to organizations that I do not believe will benefit from it.

I have learned a lot from having these discussions. Seeing a set of common questions appearing, I decided to write this post for those who may be asking the same question: Should our ministry get accredited by CCCC?

What Is CCCC Accreditation?

CCCC, along with input from sector stakeholders, has developed a set of standards referred to as the CCCC Standards of Accountability. The Standards are intended to address what is expected of an organization that is striving for excellence in the areas of Christian ministry, diligent governance, financial oversight and transparency, organizational integrity, and ethical fundraising.

Accredited Members commit to adhering to over 50 requirements under the Standards. After a member applies for Accreditation, CCCC representatives carry out regular reviews of documentation submitted by the member to look for evidence that the member maintains the standards and demonstrates a commitment to integrity, transparency, and accountability.

After achieving Accreditation, organizations may display the Accredited Member Logo and are featured on our website for donors, giveconfidently.ca.

Why Do Charities Get Accredited?

Charities pursue Accreditation for a variety of reasons. Two of the most common relate to fundraising and stakeholders.

  • Assisting with fundraising activities: The Accredited Member Logo signifies to current and new donors your ministry’s commitment to integrity, transparency, and accountability through a third-party accreditation. (It is one thing to say good things about yourself, it is another to have someone else say it.)
  • Demonstrating your priorities to other stakeholders: Accreditation assures board members, corporate members, employees, and volunteers that your charity is taking pro-active steps to ensure you not only comply with minimum legal requirements but also best practices for charities pursuing high standards. This is attractive for those considering engagement with your ministry.

Is Accreditation Only for Charities of a Certain Size?

No. We have Accredited Members with total annual revenue of $50K up to a few with over $100M. Approximately 22% of current Accredited Members have annual revenue less than $1M and the median annual revenue is just over $2M.

No charity is too small or too large to consider CCCC Accreditation.

Is Accreditation Useful for All Types of Charities?

As discussed above, ministries choose to pursue CCCC Accreditation for a variety of reasons. CCCC Accreditation can be useful to a wide variety of ministries. Our membership currently includes the following non-exhaustive list: camps, church denominations, churches, communications ministries, discipleship ministries, educational institutions, evangelism ministries, inner-city missions, missions agencies, pregnancy centres, and relief & development organizations. To browse the diversity of ministries accredited by CCCC, visit giveconfidently.ca.

Why Are There Only a Few Churches Accredited by CCCC?

This one is an interesting question. It may relate to how beneficial church leaders feel CCCC Accreditation would be for their church. In the context of a local church, often the same community of people are the donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries of the church’s activities. These people regularly participate in the various activities of the church. Additionally, some churches have a type of accountability to a denominational office, usually through the ministerial credentials of the church’s pastor. Perhaps church leadership believes that additional third-party accountability like CCCC Accreditation would not add sufficient value.

Interestingly, we have seen an increasing interest in Accreditation among churches over the past few years. This interest may be driven by an increase of independent churches and new church plants across the country. It may also be driven by a shift in perspective among church leaders. Perhaps regular tithing and consistent charitable giving to churches used to be more stable and almost guaranteed. Perhaps donors are increasingly considering a broader spectrum of ministries when making giving decisions. In faith communities that practice tithing, perhaps donors are looking more regularly outside their local church when giving gifts over and above their tithe.

Churches do incredible work within their communities and for some, around the world. While churches are a spiritual community and family, they are also a charitable organization. CCCC Accreditation can help churches demonstrate that they are committed to operating their charity with excellence.

Is Accreditation a Lot of Work? Does It Take a Long Time?

This is determined in part by what shape your books, records, and policies are in. If everything is well organized, it should not take more than a few hours to put your application package together. Applicants struggle most when they cannot carve out uninterrupted time to sit down and concentrate on this. After receiving your application package, CCCC aims to provide a detailed written report within 3–4 weeks. From there, the timeline is determined by what outstanding requirements exist and how quickly your charity can implement them.

Is Accreditation Expensive?

As with CCCC affiliate membership, we aim to make Accredited Membership accessible to ministries of all sizes. Therefore, the membership fees increase for ministries with higher revenues and decrease for those with lower revenues. CCCC is a registered charity. Our membership fees are set each year based on what revenue is expected to be required to cover our costs.

Depending on certain thresholds, Accredited Members are required to have their financial statements either reviewed or audited by a licensed public accountant (CPA). When charities communicate a cost concern to us, most often they are charities that do not already have their financial statements reviewed or audited, and this additional cost is the biggest hurdle for them.

For most Accredited Members, even gaining one or two additional donors could fully cover the additional fees associated with Accredited Membership.

For pricing details for all types of CCCC membership, click here.

Next Steps

Are you interested in exploring CCCC Accreditation further? Please visit cccc.org/accreditation or contact us today to set up a time to discuss if it’s right for your ministry.