Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students: mini charity review for donors

The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has since been superseded.  Please start with the updated review published in July 2017, and come back to this one as needed.

Mini charity review of Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (AFES) as an organisation that seeks donations online. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

(To see the situation last year, read this review.)

Is AFES registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • Other registrations:
    • As a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
      • It is permitted to omit ‘Ltd/Limited’ from its name.
    • AFES operates (according to the ACNC Register) in all eight states. From their statement in the Financial Report 2015 (see below) that the figures for ‘areas’ are included in the figures for AFES, it is reasonable to conclude that AFES raises funds in most, if not all, states. It also has an internet invitation to donate. While it has a fundraising licence in NSW, it doesn’t have one in the other six states that have a licensing regime[1].

What do they do?

  • See their website, here.
  • More succinctly, in the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2015 on the ACNC Register:
    • Teaching university students about the bible and training them to do this with other students.
      • This is the same as last year, so not helpful as a description of 2015’s activities.
      • The contents of the Annual Campus Report, required of all ‘Student Presidents’, gives a good idea of the activities of AEFS on campus:
        • How many main meetings do you run per week?
        • Average number attending main meetings per week (total)
        • How many small groups do you run per week?
        • Average small group size
        • Average number attending small groups per week (total)
        • How many from your campus went to NTE [National Training Event] last year?
        • NTE Mission last December: Church attended/No. in team/What did you do on mission
        • Conferences/camps – give details of events your group ran/attended last year

Do they share the Gospel?

  • Yes

What impact are they having?

  • Nothing under either ‘impact’ or ‘outcomes’ found on the website. (Or in the ‘Annual Report’, i.e. the Financial Report 2015.)
  • Other things being equal, how do you choose between, for instance, The Australia Navigators Ltd and AEFS?

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

  • There is insufficient disclosure to calculate the split between the direct cost of the workers in the universities (the ‘mission’), and the other costs.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • They use BPOINT, the Commonwealth Bank’s secure payment gateway, so yes.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (the AIS was lodged five months after their year-end, the Financial Report one and a half months later, a little late).
    • But 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 over 12 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2015: Almost. No outcomes are given.
  • Financial Report 2015: It contains all the required statements and reports, but
    • The Statement of Comprehensive Income, has ‘comprehensive’ in the title but the comprehensive income section is (again) omitted.
    • The Statement of Changes in Equity is (again) incorrectly titled as a mixture of income and equity.
    • The Statement of Cash Flows (again) has classifications that are not consistent with the Accounting Standards.
    • (Again) there is no explanation of the relationship between the two trust funds in Note 14 and AEFS.
    • Most of the issues in the What’s left at the end of the year… and What was earned… sections in last year’s review remain.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • They doubled the surplus as a percentage of income, from 4% to 8%.
  • Cash and cash equivalents and financial assets represent approximately seven months of revenue.
  • No obvious issues with either short-term or long-term financial structure.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • He gave a ‘clean’ opinion[3].

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

  • Yes

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

  • An unspecified number of campuses and ‘staff workers’.
    • The universities at which AEFS are represented are listed here (native English speakers), and here (non-native speakers).

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Not shown on the website, but you can see the current list on the ACNC Register under ‘Responsible Persons’.

To whom are AEFS accountable?

  • Not claimed on the website (or in the Financial Report), but they are members of Missions Interlink[4].
  • AEFS is also accountable to the ACNC.

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • When sent a draft of this review, they…did not respond.

 

 

 

 

  1. The law in this area is not straightforward – for instance, is an internet invitation ‘fundraising’ – and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.
  2. The directors have said that this is a Basic Religious Charity; I would question whether it meets the criterion of not being able to be registered under any other Entity Subtype than ‘Advancing Religion’. The classification means that no financial information need be provided to the ACNC.
  3. To take the right amount of comfort from a ‘clean opinion’, please read here and here.
  4. For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.