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Faith organizations must be answerable to their communities

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06-August-2019

Faith-based organizations in the US are often registered as not for profit 501c-3 charitable trusts. Once registered, they are required by law to be transparent and answerable to those whom they claim to represent.  Nonprofits that seek 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS need to have bylaws in place, since the IRS asks for a […]

Faith-based organizations in the US are often registered as not for profit 501c-3 charitable trusts. Once registered, they are required by law to be transparent and answerable to those whom they claim to represent.

 Nonprofits that seek 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS need to have bylaws in place, since the IRS asks for a copy of its internal governing documents to be included in the application packet.
You must keep a copy at the nonprofit corporation’s principal place of business. A copy of the bylaws, signed by a corporate officer.

Under federal law, nonprofit organizations must provide a copy of their bylaws and other important documents upon request.

https://www.philanthropy.com/article/How-can-I-gain-access-to-a/161649

As long as faith-based organizations remain with structures that are mandated by our laws, problems of transparency and openness are both minimized and easily resolvable. 

Once registered, an organization must not only follow the law, it must also draft by-laws that are in accordance with the governing principles of religious trusts. Furthermore, these by-laws must be made easily available to all those who are part of the membership structure of faith-based organizations.

Other transparency issues faced by some organizations are the financial record and tax filings (990s). These too should be made public and easily accessible. There are unfortunate situations where those leading these organizations consider themselves above the law and make questionable financial decisions. Hence, it is imperative to make the financial record and investment portfolios transparent. Faith-based organizations need to ensure that the investment portfolio of faith-based organizations are made in accordance with the donors and within the ethical framework that any income earned is applied strictly to the benefit of the membership.

Their Intention was good but they made poor decisions, Shi’a Muslims hear this all too often. This is not an excuse for poor execution and delivery, the management of a Shi’a Organization must stand on their performance. 

The responsibility lies with rank and Shia Muslim public to demand excellence for their centers by asking five key questions.

1. Financials for the past 2 years.
2. Tax records (yearly form 990).
3. Names of board members.
4. How long have they been on the boards, continuously or on and off?
5. Copy of by-laws and procedures.

This leads us to the structural components where board members need to be elected and their terms clearly defined. This means every participant in the center must review a copy of the bylaws. Since there is no oversight and members don’t question the operations, taxation, fidelity to bylaws. The management teams of centers become apathetic and disconcert of any retribution and accountability. This is an enabler attitude and the congregation (people going to the center) should ask the operational team for these five articles. You don’t have to be a member even to ask for this since a good number of Shia centers have no structured membership.

Shia Muslim (12er) organizations are there to protect, promote and establish the spiritual and devotional legacy of the 14 Masoomeen. They are there to serve and nourish the spiritual needs of the flock of devotees and provide the intellectual resources for existing and potential faith members. It is indeed the responsibility of the lover of Imam Hussain a.s to see the institutions of Azadari thrive in the most excellent way. 

Striving to remain with legal and ethical frameworks does not only satisfy the law; it is also in general accordance with the moral and spiritual guidelines of Shia Islam. If the operation team does not share this information with you then you can inform them this is a reportable offense you may leave details on our contact us section.

 

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