Friends of Indian Evangelical Mission Australia: charity review

This is a charity review of Friends of Indian Evangelical Mission Australia (FIEMA), an organisation that seeks donations online and is a member of Missions Interlink.

The Australian charities regulator, the ACNC, in their Factsheet: Making sure your donation gets to where it needs to, gives “some steps to consider to help make sure your donation is going where it is intended.”

  1. Check the organisation’s name
  2. Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
  3. Be careful of online requests for donations.
  4. No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here are the answers for FIEMA:

1: Checked. It’s not on ASIC’s registers, so that means that it’s not an incorporated entity nor a business name. It has an ABN though, and by what it does it is a charity. So it needs to be registered with the ACNC to get exemption from income tax. But it is not so registered. Still. End of review.

(If you’d give to such an organisation, let me know and I’ll tell you more about it.)

 

Whitley College: charity review

This is a charity review of Whitley College (Whitley), an organisation that seeks donations online and is a member of Missions Interlink.

The ACNC, the charities regulator, in their Factsheet: Making sure your donation gets to where it needs to, gives “some steps to consider to help make sure your donation is going where it is intended.”

  1. Check the organisation’s name
  2. Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
  3. Be careful of online requests for donations.
  4. No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here are the answers for Whitley:

1: Checked. It is a registered charity, in the name Whitley College The Baptist College of Victoria.  (An earlier attempt to review Whitley was thwarted by the temporary removal of this entire record by the ACNC. See the explanation here.)

2. NA

3. Whitley uses GiveNow to collect donations for it. GiveNow’s “web address begins with ‘https’ and “[that] there is a closed padlock symbol next to the website’s URL in the address bar”. A secure way to give to Whitley.

4. A tax deduction is possible.

5. There might be information about how it uses its donations, but this is in a set of financial statements that are drawn up on the belief by the directors, in effect, that there are no stakeholders of Whitley, either present or prospective, who are unable to command Whitley to prepare financial statements tailored to their needs. So they don’t comply with all the Accounting Standards. With 26 staff, and enough students, donors, grant makers, and others to produce $4.78 million of revenue, this is absurd. And if this is the kind of decision that these directors make…end of review[1].

  1. As usual, I sent a draft of this review to the charity. The Business Manager promised me a reply but, despite a reminder, there’s been no further response.

 

Elam Ministries: an update

On 1 February this year I reviewed Elam Ministries, an organisation whose membership of Missions Interlink implied that it was an Australian registered charity, and which sought, via the website linked from that membership, donations from Australians.

No charity was found. Not even an ABN.

13 days later an ABN became active. For a company, Elam Ministries Australia Limited.

The website now shows an Australian office:

And the ABN record says that Elam is registered with the ACNC. As does the website:

But the ACNC Register doesn’t support this – a search on either name or ABN gives nothing. Perhaps it is because Elam has applied to withhold information from the public and the ACNC has pulled the record.

Donations are still sought, but without being able to see an entry on the ACNC Register, Elam falters at the first of the ACNC’s tests for safe giving. End of review.

 

Hope India Mission Australia Inc.: charity review

This is a charity review of Hope India Mission Australia Inc. (HI), an organisation that, because it is registered with the ACNC, is subject to their accountability, and because it is a member of Mission Interlink, is subject to their accountability.

The ACNC allows a charity a generous six months after its year-end to lodge its Annual Information Statement (AIS). It is now 15 months and no sign of an AIS from HI. You’d think that might be enough to see them gone as a registered charity, but the ACNC errs in favour of the charity, not the donor: it is not until HI fails to submit another AIS, that is, two in a row, that the ACNC will ‘progress towards revoking its registration’.

At least the risk from this latitude with accountability is minimised in that HI doesn’t seek donations online.

With Missions Interlink, the consequences of HI’s blatant disregard for the law should come earlier. Assuming that last year’s practice continues, HI must sign a declaration, by 31 August 2018, that, among other things, they have ‘met all applicable charity reporting requirements’. If this declaration is not received, then Missions Interlink says that MI will be ‘no longer listed as a member of Missions Interlink’.  It will therefore lose its income tax exemption[1].

Plenty of other fish in the sea donors, so…end of review.

  1. I sent HI a draft of this review. They did not respond.

 

Australian Missionary Tidings: charity review

This is a charity review of Australian Missionary Tidings (AMT), an organisation that seeks donations online and is a member of Missions Interlink.

The Australian charities regulator, the ACNC, in their Factsheet: Making sure your donation gets to where it needs to, gives “some steps to consider to help make sure your donation is going where it is intended.”

  1. Check the organisation’s name
  2. Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
  3. Be careful of online requests for donations.
  4. No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here are the answers for AMT:

1: Checked. It is a registered charity.

2. NA

3. AMT’s “web address begins with ‘https’ and that there is a closed padlock symbol next to the website’s URL in the address bar”. A secure way to give to AMT.

4. No tax deduction is possible, but from #1 above we know that it is a ‘legitimate charity’.

5. The Financial Report 2017 shows that 85% of its expenses – $1.84 million – go to a single item, ‘Missionary expenses’. There is no explanation of this item. No breakup. No destinations. Just like last year. End of review[1].

 

  1. I sent them a draft of this review. They did not respond.

 

World Team Australia Incorporated: charity review

This is a charity review of World Team Australia Incorporated (WT), an organisation that seeks donations online, and is a ‘Member Organisation’ of Missions Interlink. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

For the previous review, see here.

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • There’s nothing on the website inviting feedback or complaints, nor is accountability mentioned.
  • I sent them a draft of this review. Like the last two years, they…did not respond.

Is WT registered?

  • As a charity, yes
  • WT is a Victorian incorporated association (No. A0030511U).
  • WT still holds no business names[1]. Registration is therefore required to continue to us the name World Team (its website), and World Team Australia (Facebook).
  • WT operates, per the ACNC Register, in Victoria (its home state), New South Wales and Queensland.
    • It still doesn’t have an ARBN, a registration required if it is doing business interstate.
    • It said in the AIS 2017 that it intended to fundraise (but didn’t state where). It still doesn’t explain why it has no fundraising licences.
  • WT operates overseas, per the ACNC Register, in Indonesia and Philippines.

What do they do?

  • The About page in the Australian site is not particularly about WT but about World Team as an international group.
  • From the Description of charity’s activities and outcomes in the AIS 2017:
    • We were able to ensure our missionaries on the field received adequate financing to enable them to work in their chosen fields.

Do they share the Gospel[2]?

  • Without knowing what their missionaries do, we can’t say.

What impact are they having?

  • No information found.

What do they spend outside the costs directly incurred in delivering the above impact, that is, on administration?

  • The Financial Report 2017 is not clear about what is sent to missionaries, but the AIS 2017 says that $73K was ‘Grants and donations made…’. That makes ‘administration’ 60% of expenses.

Do they pay their directors?

  • There is no prohibition on this in their constitution.
  • They have no employees (AIS 2017), yet ‘Director expense’ of $58K, so maybe they do make such payments?

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

What choices do you have in how your donation is used?

  • ‘World Team Missionaries’
    • No online option
  • ‘World Team Ministry Fund’
    • The link still leads back to itself.
  • ‘Priority Projects’
    • ‘Micro-enterprise/Missionary Training (Africa)’
    • ‘Abra Advance Training Center’
    • ‘Oroko Bible Translation (Cameroon)’
    • ‘Missionary Care’
    • ‘Rain Forest (sic) International School Youth Hostel’
    • ‘Papua Translation and Literacy Project’
    • ‘Mission: Mobilization’
    • ‘Technology’
    • ‘Tribal Ministry (Suriname)’
    • ‘Church Planting (France)’
    • Each of these ten options has a link to a further page. No giving options are shown on those pages.
  • ‘Innovative Giving’
    • The page from the link includes the statement ‘If you from Australia and would like to make a tax-deductible gift, please go here. This takes you to the Australian home page (see above), but, as we have seen, there is no tax-deductible option there.

Is their online giving secure?

  • NA

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • No information on this is available.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (a week late, over six months after their year-end, and a month later than last year).
    • This means that the next financial report is due by 31 March 2019. Before that the financial information on the Register will be up to 18 months out-of-date. You may therefore need to ask for more up-to-date information.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2017: No
    • WT is not a Basic Religious Charity.
    • No outcomes are reported.
    • The number of employees is zero yet there is a figure for ‘Employee expenses/payments’.
    • The financial statements presented are inconsistent with the cash ‘accounting method’.
    • ‘Employee expenses/payments’ does not match the financial statements.
    • The state where WT intends to fundraise is missing.
  • Financial Report 2017: Yes. But…
    • Because of its size WT doesn’t have to lodge a Financial Report.
    • This year they returned to their previous practice and lodged one voluntarily. A voluntary submission does not need to comply with the ACNC’s requirements.
    • It does have to match the requirements of Missions Interlink though. WT must ‘have available for its members and supporters a clear and appropriate financial statement which has been approved by its auditor’.
    • Apart from it being difficult to read because of a formatting problem, the absence of two of the normal financial statements, many of the normal Notes, and Other Comprehensive Income, makes the Report questionable as something that is ‘appropriate’.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • The employee(s) cost 39% of revenue.
  • Are the missionaries not employees?
  • The deficit as a percentage of income was reduced from 31% to 13%.
  • Both short-term and long-term financial structure are, based on this Financial Report, sound.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • The auditor, Anand Shukla, A One Accountants Pty Ltd, reviewed the financial statements, and gave a ‘clean’ conclusion.  Which, given the fact that he was the one who drew up (‘compiled’) the statements, is not surprising.
    • This conclusion was despite the fact that two of the four required statements are missing.

If a charity, is their page on the ACNC Register complete?

  • No
    • WT is, at least according to the ACNC, (still) long overdue in selecting an Entity Subtype.
    • World Team Australia is missing from ‘Other Name(s)’
    • ‘Date Established’ is blank.
    • WT is not a ‘Basic Religious Charity’.
    • ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’ are blank, but they are not compulsory.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • The page on the website for ‘Leadership’ is still blank.
  • From the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’), the charity is run by just two people:
  • This is still seven less than the number required by the constitution.

To whom are WT accountable?

  • As a charity, to the ACNC.
  • As an association, to the Victorian regulator of incorporated associations.
  • As a recipient of valuable benefits, to Missions Interlink.
    • For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

 

 

  1. A trading name, which is what WT has, does not, despite its name, allow WT to do business under that name.
  2. Good living and social concern are important [to the cause of evangelism], but they are not uniquely Christian graces…I’ve met a lot of fine Hindus, Muslims and atheists. Just living the life is not going to bring someone to Christ. There is much more to it than that. We must help people, certainly, but we must also share with them why we are motivated to do so. We must stand against injustice, poverty and need, but we must at the same time point to the One who brings justice and who can meet the deepest need. Until they know our reasons, how can they come to know our Lord?” [Dan Armstrong, the Fifth Gospel: The Gospel According to You, Anzea Books, pp. 13-14.

 

Church Missionary Society Western Australia Inc: charity review

This is a charity review of Church Missionary Society Western Australia Inc (CMS-WA), an organisation that seeks donations online, and is a member of Missions Interlink.

The Australian charities regulator, the ACNC, has a ‘factsheet’ titled Making sure your donation gets to where it needs to.

CMS-WA has again submitted a qualified audit report as part of its accountability to the public (via the ACNC Register). The auditor says that the directors of CMS-WA have ‘determined that it is impracticable to establish control over the collection of gifts and donations prior to entry into its financial records’.

So they can’t be sure that what you give will get into their bank account. End of review.

 

 

 

Still interested to know about CMS-WA? Read on.

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • CMS-WA do not seek feedback generally, but they do provide a way for complaints or feedback about privacy
  • Other complaints have their own page.
  • Accountability is not mentioned on the webpages.
  • I sent them a draft of this review. This year, unlike last year, they responded, but not with comments for publication.

Is CMS-WA registered?

  • Even though CMS-WA is a branch of Church Missionary Society – Australia Limited (CMS-A), it is an autonomous organisation [Governing document, the ACNC Register].
  • It is a Western Australian incorporated association (A0750136M), and a registered charity.
  • It trades under two other names, CMS Western Australia and CMS WA. Neither these nor any other name is registered. So it should always be using its full name (including ‘Inc/Incorporated’ on the end).
  • CMS-WA operates, per the ACNC Register, only in Western Australia. It doesn’t explain why it has no fundraising licence there.
    • Although it has an online request for donations, it is collecting for another organisation (CMS-A), so perhaps that explains the lack of fundraising licences in the other states that have a licensing regime for charities.

What do they do?

  • See the main menu headings on their webpages.
  • CMS-WA says, on the ACNC Register, that it does not operate overseas. What about its missionaries?

Do they share the Gospel[1]?

  • Only if they have one or more missionaries who are proselytizing rather than working with believers.

What impact are they having?

  • No information found.

What do they spend outside the costs directly incurred in delivering the above impact, that is, on administration?

  • If ‘impact’ is defined as ‘Funds remitted to CMS-Aust’, then 48% goes to ‘administration’.
    • However, we know from the Financial Report of other branches, for instance Tasmania, that this figure includes a contribution to CMS-A’s overhead. The figure for administration is therefore higher than 48%.

Do they pay their directors?

  • The CMS-WA governing document does not prohibit this.
  • Unless this is included in ‘Staffing Expenses’, it appears that no such payment is made.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • Not for a donation to CMS-WA.
    • Nevertheless, the giving page that they use is, without explanation, the one belonging to CMS-A, and it does offer tax-deductible giving.

Is their online giving secure?

  • Security is not mentioned.

Where are your (net) donations sent?

  • The only obvious remittance of money in the expenses is the item ‘Funds remitted to CMS-Aust’. This is $150K, or 52% of expenses.
    • We are not told the reason for this remittance.
    • The same amount is shown as ‘Grants and donations made for use in Australia’ in the AIS 2017. With the revenue being ‘General missionary support’, one would expect the money to end up overseas.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (lodged seven months after their year-end, on the second last day, and over a month later than last year).
    • If you are considering a large donation, I would ask for more up-to-date financial information – the accounts are for a year end that is now nearly 12 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2017: No
    • If by ‘Other names’ the ACNC includes unregistered names by which the charity is known by, then two are missing.
    • CMS-WA’s objectives are described instead of activities.
    • No outcomes are reported.
    • With an online invitation to give, they do intend to fundraise.
  • Financial Report 2017: No.
    • Two of the four compulsory financial statements are again missing.
    • Most of the required Notes are again missing.
    • The Income Statement still uses a long out-of-date format (and is therefore incorrectly titled and missing a key element).
    • The ‘Responsible persons’ declaration does not comply with the ACNC’s requirements.
    • The audit is deficient (see below).
    • The directors do not explain why they continue to believe that they cannot institute controls over gifts and donations.
      • The Treasurer told the AGM [Annual Report, the Register] that the audit qualification ‘is something that is (sic) we will encounter when cash is handed to us and processed at a later time.’ This is not true.
    • There is no explanation as to why revenue includes tax-deductible donations when CMS-WA is not entitled to receive tax-deductible donations.
    • Without explanation, the directors believe that a special purpose financial report is acceptable. This choice allows them to make less than a full disclosure about CMS-WA’s finances and operations, and is implicitly a statement that any current or prospective user can command the preparation of a financial report tailored to their needs. With overseas missionaries, 82 staff [AIS 2017], a 20% increase in membership this year and 39 churches visited in 2017 [Annual Report, the Register], and an online invitation to give, this is hard to see.
    • The report does not explain the relationship between CMS-WA and CMS-A, something that is integral to understanding the accounts.
      • For instance, why are funds remitted to CMS-A?
    • The report does not explain the treatment of payments to missionaries compared to payments to employees.
    • ‘Equipment and Furniture’ appears to be still being used even though it has been written off.
    • There is no explanation for 45% of the liabilities, the ‘Other liabilities’. Or for the 314% increase in that item.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • The auditor, Jeffrey T. Byerley, CPA, has again issued a qualified opinion.
    • Read here to see what this means compared to a ‘clean’ opinion.
    • He says that CMS-WA ‘has determined that it is impracticable to establish control over the collection of gifts and donations prior to entry into its financial records’. So, for 95% of the revenue, CMS-WA cannot be sure that what is included in revenue in the financial statements is all that was given by donors.
    • Why is it not possible for CMS-WA to implement the necessary internal controls? Four out of the other five CMS-A branches can do it, including the other one that is audited by this auditor.
  • With this size gap in the audit procedures, and the deficiencies described under ‘Financial Report 2017’ (see above), CMS-WA got off lightly – an adverse opinion would seem to be more appropriate.
  • Because he is still not a registered company auditor, the audit has again been done by someone who is not qualified to do it[2].
  • Apart from allowing the accounting choices made by the directors, he has also omitted the obligatory ‘Emphasis of Matter’ paragraph.
  • He signed his report before the directors had signed theirs.

What was the financial situation shown by that Report?

  • Within the limitations of the Report submitted (see above) –
    • The surplus as a percentage of income decreased from 27% to 20%.
    • ‘Staffing expenses’ again rose, from 31% of expenses to 34%.
    • Even though liabilities rose markedly – see ‘Financial Report 2017’ above – both short-term and long-term financial structure are sound.
    • There is no explanation of why 19 months of revenue is held in cash and cash equivalents.

If a charity, is their information on the ACNC Register complete/correct?

  • No
    • The selection of a ‘Entity Subtype’ has been overdue since 30 June 2015.
    • If by ‘Other names’ the ACNC includes unregistered names by which the charity is known by, then two are missing.
    • ‘Date Established’ is blank.
    • ‘Who the Charity Benefits’ is blank.
    • By far the largest revenue item is ‘General missionary support’. When, then, is ‘Operates in (Countries) blank?

What choices do you have in how your donation is used?

  • In one sense, you have no choice – it all goes to another charity, CMS-Australia.
  • These are the choices given by CMS-A:
    • ‘General Missionary Support’
    • ‘General Tax Deductible (sic) Gift’
    • ‘A particular worker’ (with a dropdown listing all the workers)
    • ‘Other’
      • This includes one with CMS-WA in its title, ‘CMS WA Membership Contribution’.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

To whom is CMS-WA accountable?

  • Nothing claimed on the webpages.
  • As a (registered) charity, to the ACNC.
  • And to the Western Australia regulator of incorporated associations.
  • Its membership of Missions Interlink comes with accountability.
    • For one view on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

 

  1. Good living and social concern are important [to the cause of evangelism], but they are not uniquely Christian graces…I’ve met a lot of fine Hindus, Muslims and atheists. Just living the life is not going to bring someone to Christ. There is much more to it than that. We must help people, certainly, but we must also share with them why we are motivated to do so. We must stand against injustice, poverty and need, but we must at the same time point to the One who brings justice and who can meet the deepest need. Until they know our reasons, how can they come to know our Lord?” [Dan Armstrong, the Fifth Gospel: The Gospel According to You, Anzea Books, pp. 13-14.
  2. Because Western Australian incorporated associations don’t need to submit a financial report to the regulator, the ACNC’s concession to incorporated associations doesn’t apply.

 

The Church Missionary Society – Tasmania Inc

This is a charity review of The Church Missionary Society – Tasmania Inc (CMS-T), an organisation that seeks donations online and is a member of Missions Interlink. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

For the previous review, see here.

Are they responsive to feedback?[1]

  • CMS-T do not seek feedback generally, but they do provide a way to complain or give feedback about privacy
  • Other complaints have their own page.
  • Accountability is not mentioned on the webpages.
  • I sent them a draft of this review. Like last year, they…did not respond.

Is CMS-T registered?

  • Even though the short name for CMS-T in its constitution is ‘the branch’ – because it is a branch member of Church Missionary Society – Australia Limited (CMS-A) – the constitution also says that it is autonomous.
  • CMS-T is a Tasmania incorporated association (TAS 03628C), and a registered charity.
  • It trades under two other names, CMS Tasmania and CMS Tas. Neither these nor any other name is registered. It should therefore be using its full name in public (including ‘Inc/Incorporated’ on the end) at all times
  • CMS-T operates, per the ACNC Register, only in Tasmania. It says in the AIS 2017 that it intends to fundraise there, but it doesn’t explain why has no fundraising licence.
    • Although it has an online request for donations, it is collecting for another organisation (CMS-A), so perhaps that explains the lack of fundraising licences in the other states that have a licensing regime for charities.

What do they do?

  • Generally: see the first section here.
  • More specifically: from the AIS 2017:
    • We educate and engage churches and their members in Tasmania about cross cultural Christian mission. Our major annual event was the SummerView Conference held at Port Sorell from 12-15 January 2017. Regular regional prayer gatherings are held in the north, south, and northwest of the State. Missionary information was disseminated at these and other occasional events held during the year. Twentyseven churches were visited throughout the year by our State Director, as well as three schools. Identifying and endorsing suitable candidates for cross cultural overseas Christian ministry. Support of cross-cultural workers in cross cultural service through the Church Missionary Society Australia Ltd. From December 2016 to June 2017 we pastorally supported and provided for our two missionary units (a single person and a married couple) who were on Home Assignment. Supporters increased by 66% and donations improved by 10%, for the most part resulting from the employment of our new State Director, Rev’d Scott Sargent from 1 November 2016. A new Tasmanian candidate was accepted for missionary service and will head to St Andrew’s Hall for cross cultural training in 2018.
  • CMS-T has two ‘missionary units’ (AIS 2017) and sent $151K overseas (AIS 2017). (When it says on the ACNC Register that it does not operate overseas therefore appears to be a mistake.)

Do they share the Gospel[2]?

  • Only if they have one or more missionaries who are proselytizing rather than working with believers.

What impact are they having?

  • No information found.

What do they spend outside the costs directly incurred in delivering the above impact, that is, on administration?

  • If ‘Distribution of Funds’ is defined as the money that goes to achieve the impact, then 51% is administration (up from 40% last year).
    • But an undisclosed amount of this distribution is to cover CMS-A’s overhead, so the figure is greater than 51%.

Do they pay their board members?

  • The CMS-T governing document does not prohibit this.
  • There don’t appear to be any board members’ fees in the Statement of Surplus or Deficit.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • Not for a donation to CMS-T.
    • Nevertheless, the giving page that they use is, without explanation, the one belonging to Church Missionary Society – Australia Ltd, and it does offer tax-deductible giving.

Is their online giving secure?

  • Security is not mentioned.

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • $241K was received in donations (Statement of Surplus or Deficit). $151K ‘grants and donations’ were made (AIS 2017), all to CMS-A.
    • Like last year, some of this didn’t belong to CMS-T in the first place – they collected $21K tax-deductible donations for CMS-A as their agent.
    • There’s no information in the financial statements about the destination of the non-tax-deductible money.
      • It is most likely the payment talked about in the ‘Branch Council Report’ (included in the Financial Report 2017):
        • CMS-A pays all missionary allowances and direct costs, and makes provision in their accounts for resettlement when they return home. As CMS-A has no income of its own, each Branch is responsible for meeting the cost of their missionaries, along with a proportional share of CMS-A costs including staff, administration, pastoral care, training and governance via the monthly payment of an amount budgeted by CMS-A each financial year.
        • So, the $151K is both to pay CMS-T’s missionaries and to run CMS-A. We are not told the split.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (lodged six and a half months after their year-end, two weeks before the deadline, and the same time as last year).
    • If you are considering a large donation, I would ask for more up-to-date financial information – the accounts are for a year end that is now nearly 12 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2017: Like the last two years, no.
    • CMS-T is indeed known by the name CMS Tasmania, but it’s also known as CMS Tas. (Neither are registered, so by ‘Other Name(s), the ACNC means registered names, which is likely, then neither should be included here.)
    • No outcomes are given.
    • Two of the (substantive) figures under ‘Gross Income’ are incorrect.
    • No overseas countries are mentioned.
    • ‘Tas Fundraising No.’ is blank.
  • Financial Report 2017[3]: Questionable. Like last year,
    • Money collected for another charity (CMS-A) is included.
    • 90% of liabilities, ‘Provision for Maintenance’, are not a liability.
    • Buildings are not depreciated.
    • The committee says that CMS-T is not a reporting entity. This allows them to make less than a full disclosure about CMS-T’s finances and operations. They give no reason for the choice, but, by definition, they are saying that there no current or prospective stakeholders who depend on their financial statements to make decisions. With 500+ members [State Director’s Report], this is implausible.
    • No explanation is given for the substantial income from ‘Rent’ (16% of revenue).
    • CMS-T’s relationship with CMS-Australia – the organization that collects its online donations and receives its money for missionaries – is not explained.
      • There is an explanation in the Directors’ Report, but this is not audited.
    • The relationship between the missionaries that it has sent overseas, employees, and CMS-Australiais not disclosed.
      • The Directors’ Report says that CMS-T is responsible for the cost of its missionaries, but this cost is not disclosed[4].

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • The auditor, Geoffrey V Powell, of Powell Accounting, Chartered Accountants, issued a ‘clean’ opinion. However, before you decide how much comfort to take from this opinion,
    • read here and here to understand what a ‘clean’ opinion means, an
    • read again the ‘Financial Report 2017’ section above.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • The surplus declined from 31% of revenue to 8%.
  • ‘Employment costs’ increased from 5% to 25%. No explanation is given.
  • Based on the figures, financial structure is sound.
  • Together with ‘Cash’, ‘Deposits with Trustees of Diocese of Tasmania’, represents 21 months of revenue. There’s no information in the financial statements about why so much is held at the same time as continuing to seek donations.
    • CMS-T includes this comment in the Branch Council Report (in the Financial Report 2017):
      • C.M.S. Tasmania through its relationship with C.M.S. Australia, has a commitment to fund CMS-Tas missionaries. While this commitment will be met in part by the ongoing support of our donors, CMS-Tas seeks to hold sufficient financial reserves to cover future missionary commitments payable to CMS-A. Our current financial reserves are adequate to cover this commitment.
        • Why should past donors support the future unmet needs of missionaries?
    • The same section in the Branch Council Report continues
      • The health of the Church Missionary Society – Tasmania Inc is dependent upon the grace of God and the continued financial support of its members.
        • By keeping significant financial reserves, CMS-T is dependent on neither the grace of God nor its members.

If a charity, is their information on the ACNC Register correct?

  • No,
    • ‘Who the Charity Benefits’ is incomplete.
    • CMS-T does operate overseas.
    • The name CMS Tas is missing.
    • They are indeed known by the name CMS Tasmania, but if by ‘Other Name(s), the ACNC means registered names (which is likely), then CMS-T’s inclusion of this name is incorrect.

What choices do you have in how your donation is used?

  • In one sense, you have no choice – it all goes to another charity, CMS-Australia.
  • These are the choices given by CMS-A:
    • ‘General Missionary Support’
    • ‘General Tax Deductible (sic) Gift’
    • ‘A particular worker’ (with a dropdown listing all the workers)
    • ‘Other’
      • This includes two with CMS-T in the title, CMS TAS Membership Donation’ and ‘CMS TAS SummerView support Fund’.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Not shown on the webpages, but on the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’), they are:
    • Craig Arnold
    • Anita Booker
    • Richard Condie
    • Michael Guerzoni
    • Emily Isham
    • Francis Lee-Jones
    • Suzanne Morton
    • Joel Nankervis
    • James Oakley
    • Scott Sargent
    • Robert Stanley
    • Leonie Stiltz
    • Richard Condie has no right to vote, so should he be in this list?
  • The Board is short one member.
  • The Board is responsible to the membership. There are over 500 members [‘Annual Report’, the Register].

To whom are CMS-T accountable?

  • Nothing claimed on the webpages.
  • As a (registered) charity, to the ACNC.
  • And to the Tasmanian incorporated associations regulator.
  • Although not mentioned on their webpage, they are also accountable as a Member of Missions Interlink.
    • For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

 

 

  1. I agree with Randy Alcorn when he says that ‘Any Christian leaders who resist financial accountability make themselves suspect.’ [Money, Possessions, & Eternity, Tyndale, 2003, 425].
  2. Good living and social concern are important [to the cause of evangelism], but they are not uniquely Christian graces…I’ve met a lot of fine Hindus, Muslims and atheists. Just living the life is not going to bring someone to Christ. There is much more to it than that. We must help people, certainly, but we must also share with them why we are motivated to do so. We must stand against injustice, poverty and need, but we must at the same time point to the One who brings justice and who can meet the deepest need. Until they know our reasons, how can they come to know our Lord?” [Dan Armstrong, the Fifth Gospel: The Gospel According to You, Anzea Books, pp. 13-14.
  3. I use the Pinnacle Financial Statements, respected in the profession as providing a very sound basis for producing compliant financial reports. To this I add an assessment of materiality (both quantitative and qualitative), where the users being considered are donors.
  4. In addition,
    • The total of ‘Cash reserves’ is much greater than the total of cash and cash equivalents.
    • The Statement of Surplus or Deficit does not comply with the relevant Accounting Standard.
    • The result of CMS-T’s major annual event, SummerView, is included as a single figure, thereby understating both revenues and expenses.
    • ‘Receipts from activities’ and ‘Payments (sic) operating costs’ is an insufficient disclosure of cash flows.
    • There are no Notes for the Statement of Surplus or Deficit.
    • Without explanation, some of the figures reported for the prior year do not match what was reported last year.

 

The Christian & Missionary Alliance of Australia Inc: charity review

This is a charity review of The Christian & Missionary Alliance of Australia Inc (CMAA), an organisation that seeks donations online and is a ‘Member Organisation’ of Missions Interlink[1]. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

The Australian charities regulator, the ACNC, in their Factsheet: Making sure your donation gets to where it needs to, says that the first thing you should do is to ‘Check the organisation’s name’ by searching for it on the ACNC Register.

Here’s the result:

This doesn’t look like the one we want.

As a check, the Register can be searched using an ABN. You would expect to find an organisation’s ABN on its website, but not so with CMAA. So, use ABN Lookup.

This shows that its search function is smarter than the ACNC’s – it equates ‘&’ with ‘and’, and we so gives us what is most likely the organisation we are looking for:

Using this ABN, we find that CMAA is indeed registered as a charity[2]:

It is at this point, based on experience, that I search for other charities that might be connected with the charity being reviewed.

The ACNC Register shows that the following people – ‘responsible persons’ -are on the board of CMAA:

  • Wing Chen
  • Chanh Doan
  • Kenneth Graham
  • Aman Gupta
  • Russell Holmes
  • Peter Laughlin
  • Philip Ticehurst
  • Philip Wong
  • Wan Yeung

By searching the ACNC Register by responsible person, we see what other charities these people are also governing:

  • The Trustee For Cama Services Overseas Aid Fund: all seven board members are also on the CMAA board.
  • North East Alliance Church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance of Australia: two of the three board members are also on the CMAA board.

Then we can search for other charities with ‘Christian and Missionary Alliance’ in their name:

This shows two others at the Deakin address of CMAA:

  • The Christian And Missionary Alliance Development Fund: Its governing document [ACNC Register] provides that members are nominated by the CMAA board, and board members must be members of CMAA. Its chair is currently the chair of CMAA.
  • The Christian And Missionary Alliance of Australasia Property Trust: The membership of the Trust is coextensive with that of CMAA.

So, we have found at least four charities that are controlled by CMAA[3]. But not a single mention of any of them in the financial report that CMAA has lodged with the ACNC. End of review.

 

 

  1. Missions Interlink is an organisation that, among other things, gives members income tax exemption even though they do not meet the “in Australia” test and do not have deductible gift recipient status.
  2. Which is correct, the organisation with ‘&’, or the ABN record and the ACNC? A search with ASIC shows that CMAA is an ACT (incorporated) association:

    The list of incorporated associations is kept by Access Canberra. It shows that it is that CMAA that is using its name incorrectly:

    Time for a name change CMAA.

  3. From my review last year, I know that there is another one: The Alliance College of Australia. This is ‘A ministry of the (CMAA), with a ‘Governing Committee’ appointed by CMAA [Governing document, ACNC Register).

 

The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory: charity review

This is a review of The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory, one of the ‘Member Organisations’ of Missions Interlink, and an organisation that seeks your donation online.

The Australian charities regulator, the ACNC, in their Factsheet: Making sure your donation gets to where it needs to, says that the first thing you should do is to ‘Check the organisation’s name’ by searching for it on the ACNC Register.

Here’s the result:

This shows that the organisation asking for your donation is actually two organisations, two separate charities, run from the same place.

The website linked from the Missions Interlink membership list is labelled, in the top left-hand corner, in small writing (this snip is less than half the width of the website):

So, one website for the two charities.

This might be OK if there was separate information on the activities of each charity on the website. But the ‘About Us’ section mentions neither ‘General work’ nor ‘Social work’.

So, what’s the difference?

A Google search of the entire site, site:salvos.org ‘general work’, gives only 12 references. Most of those are the same, an explanation in the Annual Report. Here it is from the latest one:

Churches do ‘social work’, so what’s the distinction being made here? In the absence of an explanation on the website the information on the ACNC Register should answer that question.

The two charities

There is nothing on the Register that tells us what The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory General Work does. The Financial Report should give us the answer in figures, but they say that they are a ‘Small’ charity so don’t have to report. ‘Small’? The Salvos’ ‘church work’ throughout New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Queensland has revenue less than $250K?

A section in the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2017 should give us a summary of the information in the accounts, but because ‘General Work’ says that it is a ‘Basic Religious Charity’, even that is blank.

The constitution (or similar) should give us what they were formed to do, but, in contravention of the ACNC’s requirements, it hasn’t been lodged.

2017’s ‘activities and outcomes’ should have been described in the AIS 2017, but there they have described the ‘Social Work’ charity:

So, no help from the Register entry for ‘General Work’. Turning to the entry for The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory Social Work, we see that the directors think that they too are a ‘Small’ charity. Implausible. And that the Register shows this charity also to be a ‘Basic Religious Charity’, an entry that is, because ‘Social Work’ is a ‘public benevolent institution’, clearly a mistake. The result of these classifications is that there is no financial information for donors.

With the two charities operating from the same address, and having the same ‘Charity Address for Service’, one would expect that either one controls the other or they are both controlled by another organisation. Additional evidence would be if they had the same ‘responsible persons’, but a comparison is not possible because ‘Social Work’ has, contrary to the ACNC’s requirements, left that section of the Register blank.

Conclusion

If you find where the Salvos are being accountable for the money you give on this site, please let me know. All I know at the moment is that it is not where you usually find it[1].

 

 

  1. I sent them a draft of this review. They did not respond.