(RNS) — Dan Busby, who was president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability for more than a decade, has died after a monthslong bout with cancer.
The expert on nonprofit finance and tax issues, who served the ECFA for more than three decades in all, died Wednesday (Sept. 28) at his Winchester, Virginia, home, according to the organization. He was 81.
“ECFA was remarkably blessed by Dan Busby’s humble and dedicated service to the ministry for over 30 years, and the continued impact of Dan’s legacy will be felt within the ECFA team and membership far beyond the next three decades,” said Michael Martin, the current president and CEO of ECFA, in a statement.
Taking office in 2008, Busby became the longest-serving president of the organization, which offers a Good Housekeeping-like seal of approval for ministries and churches, aiming to build trust for potential donors and volunteers.
In 2009, after being targeted by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley’s investigation of six prominent religious organizations for questionable use of donations, Joyce Meyer Ministries joined the ECFA. Busby welcomed the move and the senator called it “a positive development.”
Founded in 1979 to be a watchdog on financial and ethical wrongdoing, the ECFA has grown from 150 charter members to more than 2,600 members in the U.S. Busby, who conducted hundreds of on-site compliance reviews of ECFA churches and other ministries, was credited with much of that increase.
Busby helped create a national Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations that responded to Grassley’s request to study ways to encourage “self-reform” among religious groups after the Senate probe concluded in 2011. The next year, Busby and other members of the multiyear commission recommended “reasonable” compensation for nonprofit leaders and said such information should be available to donors who request it.
Busby’s organization also announced when some ministries were determined to be no longer in compliance with its standards. During his tenure it also was criticized for waiting too long when it terminated the membership of Harvest Bible Chapel, a Chicago-area megachurch, in 2019.
“We are committed to applying our standards rigorously and consistently,” said Busby at the time.
He retired and was named president emeritus in 2020.
“Dan Busby was a genius at connecting, communicating, leading and innovating as he served the members of ECFA and the Kingdom of God,” said ECFA board Chair Wayne Pederson in a statement. “Dan was not only an esteemed ministry colleague, but a dear friend who cared deeply about the family of God and the people he served.”
Prior to joining ECFA, Busby founded a certified public accounting practice in Kansas City, Kansas, taking on mostly Christian ministries as clients and serving as the financial officer of the Wesleyan Church. His work with the ECFA began in 1989 when he volunteered to be a member of its standards committee, and he served in senior leadership positions for a decade before being named president.