This piece by Mercy Survivor Anna was originally published on her blog, External Mercy, and can be viewed here.
A review of Mercy Multiplied’s Guidelines for Establishing a Residential Counseling Ministry.
So we’re going to pick back up with Mercy Multiplied’s Guidelines with the second portion of the “Operations” section, which if you remember from last time, again has nothing to do with the residents or the actual treatment or ministry, but focuses on (surprise, surprise!) the organization, its image, and finances. Now, lest I be misunderstood, I’m all for financial accountability such as that that Mercy Multiplied is recommending here with professionals from financial and legal backgrounds being consulted and independent audits, I just find it very hard to understand how an organization that would strongly recommend using professionals for these areas would completely eschew even basic consultation with professionals who are knowledgeable about the mental illnesses and issues that the residents themselves are dealing with—double standard anyone? Or is it just that the only people they see themselves accountable to are the donors?
Disclaimer aside, Mercy Multiplied talks about the importance of their Board of Directors and recommend selecting individuals that are “able to give Godly wisdom and counsel” and “will support and help fulfill the vision God has given your ministry” and other qualities such as willingness to serve the ministry and the vision and specific skill sets that are needed by the organization. Interestingly, but unsurprisingly, they don’t mention anything that has to do with making sure the organization’s Board of Directors are not all compensated directly or indirectly by the organization. The board of directors provide oversight and governance for the organization—thus it’s important that these members have the freedom to call the organization on actions without having any personal stake in the organizations’ practices.
The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance recommends that “Not more than one or 10% (whichever is greater) directly or indirectly compensated person(s) serving as voting member(s) of the board. Compensated members shall not serve as the board’s chair or treasurer.” (look here and scroll down to Standard 4). Unsurprisingly this is also the standard that Mercy Multiplied fails to meet. Of course, you should also remember that these standards are for charities in general and deal solely with financial accountability to donors—there’s no consideration obviously for the quality (or lack thereof) of the services the charity is offering.
If you’re interested in reporting Mercy Multiplied to the BBB through their easy online complaint form here. Those complaints get forwarded to the organization and the organization is tasked with responding to those complaints as part of the BBB standards. I’ve reported them for failing to adhere to minimum standards in interactions with residents, failure to follow industry-wide standards of proper consent, privacy, and record keeping, misrepresenting their services through misleading appeals, failing to respond to complaints of maltreatment, and gross medical negligence. (You do NOT have to identify yourself as a former resident or parent, you can file the complaint simply as a concerned individual but anonymous complaints are not forwarded to the organization.) It’s not much really, but it does use official, accountable channels.
Anyways, since Mercy Multiplied’s Board of Directors currently has 2 of 9 members indirectly compensated by the ministry (one of which is the board treasurer…um, conflict of interest anyone??), it makes sense that they would ignore the importance of having non-compensated/non-related board members to maintain the checks and balances necessary for a ministry. For all their emphasis on financial accountability, they’re definitely missing the mark on this aspect.