Africa Inland Mission International Australia Inc: mini charity review for donors

The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has since been superseded.  Please contact me if you are facing a significant decision with this charity and an updated review would be of help.

Mini charity review of Africa Inland Mission International Australia Inc (AIM), 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.)

Are they responsive to feedback?

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

Is AIM registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • Other registrations:
    • As a NSW incorporated association (Y1658604).
    • AIM operates in all states. It also has an invitation to give on the internet. Plus advertises for bequests on My Bequest.
      • It does not have the registration necessary, an ARBN, to operate interstate.
      • It has a fundraising licence only in NSW. Six other states have a licensing regime[1].
    • The group uses the names Africa Inland Mission, AIM, AIM Australia, and Africa Inland Mission International – Asia-Pacific (FaceBook) in its internet presence.
      • None of these names are business names; AIM cannot therefore legally trade under any other name than its legal name.
      • At least some of this use would appear to contravene section 41(1) of its enabling legislation (the Associations Incorporation Act 2009), a section that requires the full name to be used on ‘any letter, statement, invoice, notice, publication, order for goods or services or receipt’.

What does AIM do?

  • Generally: ‘Africa Inland Mission (AIM) is a Christian mission sending agency with a heart for Africa’s peoples.’
  • More specifically, from the AIS 2016:
    • This charity mobilises people from Australia and the Asia-Pacific to ministry in Africa or our mobilising countries including Australia. Our priority is taking the good news of Jesus Christ to African people groups who have not yet heard or been reached with this message. In 2016 20 f/t workers were serving in Africa.
  • Three ministry areas.

Does AIM share the Gospel?

  • Yes.

What impact are they having?

  • Nothing systematic found. Some anecdotal evidence in the Feb-May 16 Africa News[2].

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

  • The expenses are not classified to allow a calculation of the costs of sharing the gospel, however that cost objective is defined.
    • In fact, the Income Statement does not appear to include any of the costs of employing the twenty missionaries that are working for AIM.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is AIM online giving secure?

  • PayPal is used, so yes.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (three months after their year-end).
    • 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 six months in the past.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2015: Yes
    • The absence of any expense for grants, although supported by the Financial Report, is inconsistent with their collection of money for projects.
  • Financial Report 2015: No – again
    • The Report is missing one of the four required financial statements.
    • The directors do not say why they have chosen to produce the lower-standard special purpose financial statements.
      • Their decision implies that AIM has no users, past or prospective, who are dependent on normal financial statements to make decisions about AIM. This is for an organisation that operates in all states and has 28 staff.
    • The auditor, Lawrence Green of Shedden & Green Partners, continues to produce a report that materially deviates from what is required by the Australian Auditing Standards.
    • Balance Sheet
      • Loans are misclassified. (And are therefore omitted from the AIS 2016).
      • There is no explanation why, with 28 employees, there are no ‘Employee Entitlement Provisions’.
      • ‘Investments’ do not use the classification required by the applicable Accounting Standard.
    • Income Statement
      • Donations are sought for 20 missionaries (or perhaps 28 staff) and multiple projects, and ‘Project – Balances owing’ total $590K, yet donations are only $40-42K pa.
        • This $590K includes $208K ‘resettlement amounts set aside’
      • The second largest income item, ‘Home Administration’ $63K, is unexplained.
      • Interest was paid yet there are no interest-bearing borrowings in the balance sheet.
      • Some of the terminology is incorrect.
    • Statement of Cashflows
      • All bar one of the items under ‘Cashfows in Investing Activities’ should be in one of the other two sections.
      • Two different figures are given for ‘Net cash provided by operating activities’.
    • Notes to and Forming Part of the Accounts
      • The NZ charity with a similar name that shares a website with AIM, and has two of the Australian directors on its board, is not mentioned.
        • Does AIM control this charity?
      • The ‘Related Parties’ Note does not mention the Asia-Pacific and Australia Council.
      • Note 11 says that funds are regularly remitted ‘to the field’, yet there is no obvious item for this in the expenses.
      • Many of the Notes normally included are absent.
    • The Declaration by Responsible Persons is undated.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • The surplus as a percentage of income was decreased from 12% to 11% – still relatively high.
    • ‘Donations’ are only 18% of income.
      • Short Term Coordinator/Payroll Expenses’ (therefore) exceeded Donations by $7K.
      • Then another $55K was incurred for the unexplained item ‘Ministry’.
    • The second and third largest expenses are the unspecified ‘Home Office costs’ and (Ministry) ‘Other Costs’.
    • AIM, a charity with an income of $219K, owns two properties. (Or is income understated? See ‘Financial Report 2015’, above.)
  • No obvious concerns with the financial structure – but see the comments under ‘Financial Report 2015’, above.

What did the auditor say about AIM’s last financial statements?

  • He gave a ‘clean’ opinion[3]. However, confidence in the opinion is reduced by
    • His presentation of a report that does not comply with the Australian Auditing Standards.
    • His implicit acceptance of the directors’ decision to produce financial statements that don’t have to comply with all the Accounting Standards.
    • His acceptance of
      • the omission of one of the four required financial statements, and
      • multiple misclassifications in another of the statements.

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

  • No
    • The ACNC says, under ‘Entity Subtype’, Charity to select subtype.
    • ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’ are blank.
    • ‘Date Established’ is blank.

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

  • The page says ‘General Donations’, ‘Worker Support’, and ‘Project Sponsorship’, but then the donation form only has the latter two.
    • Care: the form is for donations to the New Zealand charity too.
  • There is no list of either workers or projects from which to select, nor are they listed on the website.
    • It appears that anything can be written in the boxes for the name of the worker and the project name, and it will be accepted.

Who are the people controlling AIM?

  • Not shown on the website.
  • Those under ‘Responsible Persons’ on the ACNC Register.
    • John Harris and Leonard Lesleighter are also on the board of the NZ charity.
  • The AIM board is still two short of the number required by its constitution.

To whom is AIM accountable?

  • Membership of Missions Interlink is claimed by Africa Inland Mission Asia-Pacific Region in their newsletter (Africa News).
    • There is a membership in the name Africa Inland Mission International (the global organisation, but which leads to AIM’s website.
      • Missions Interlink is an organisation that has standards[4] with which AIM must comply.
  • AIM is also accountable to the ACNC.

 

 

  1. The law in this area is not straightforward and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.
  2. Although said to be published three times a year, this is the latest issue.
  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.

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