Anglican Board of Mission, charity review

The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has since been superseded.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 January 2017, and come back to this one as needed.

This is a review, for donors and potential donors, of the Australian charity Anglican Board of Mission – Australia Limited (ABM).

It is structured according to the charity’s entry on the ACNC[i] Register, and its purpose is to supply some information extra to what is there, information that may be helpful in your decision about ABM.

It is up to you to decide whether any or all of the information presented here is what you need in order to make your decision, and whether you need to seek any other information, either from the charity itself or from other sources.

Ministry response

Prior to publishing this review, I sent, on 20 August 2015, my observations to the charity and invited them to comment. On 7 September, the Executive Officer, Edwin Porter, sent his comments. Because it appeared that he may have misunderstood some of my observations, and to ensure that he understood that his comments would be published as those of ABM, I responded to what he had said and offered him the opportunity to make changes. He said that, although he didn’t “necessarily agree with some of [my] conclusions”, he would ‘”leave things as they are.”

Organisation of this review:

  1. This review is organised according to the headings in the register entry. This is how to use this section of the review:
    • For each heading in the register entry, first read the information under that heading.
    • Then check if that heading is included below. (Headings for which there is no comment are not included.)
  2. There is then a more detailed comment on the Financial Report.
  3. Lastly, there is a section Membership of accountability organisations claimed.

Sources:

  • The ACNC Register entry (including links)
  • The ABM website, and social media (right hand side here). Not on LinkedIn.
  • Internet search on the names under Charity Details below.
  • State government fundraising licence registers.
  • Email response from the Executive Officer, Edwin Porter (see Ministry Response, above).
  • Glassdoor  (reviews ‘To help people everywhere find jobs and companies they love’)

REGISTRATION DETAILS

Entity Subtype

  • The second of the two subtypes is consistent with sharing the Gospel.

CHARITY DETAILS

Legal Name

  • Not to be confused with the two charities with the name ‘Anglican Board of Mission’ but with the addition of ‘Auxiliary’ +. (See here, and here.)
  • ABM is a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
    • It has two members, the Anglican Church of Australia and the Primate of that Church, without the possibility of any change to this membership (see Charity’s Document, below).
  • The Financial Report (see below) is for a group of entities. However, there is no explanation for excluding Anglican Australia Disaster Relief Fund, a fund for which ABM is the trustee and which shares the same thirteen directors.
    • ABM response: “The Anglican Australian Disaster Relief Fund is an entity that has never operated.”

Charity ABN

  • Tax deductibility:  According to the ABN record, a tax deduction can be claimed for a donation to ABM, and also to the public ancillary fund operated by ABM, The Australian Board of Missions Aboriginal Missions Special Purpose Trust Fund.
    • ABM response: “A tax deduction can only be claimed for donations to the Anglican Trust Fund for Development and the Aboriginal PAF above. Donations for evangelism and other church work are not deductible.” 

Charity Street Address

  • Postal address, from the website: Locked Bag Q4005 Queen Victoria Building NSW 1230

ANNUAL REPORTING

  • AIS 2014
    • Basic financial information[ii] is shown in this document, the Annual Information Statement.
  • Financial Report 2014.
    • This report can be opened either from here or from within AIS 2014.
    • The Financial Report was completed four months from their year-end[iii], and put on the ACNC Register three months later. This was one month over the period normally allowed.
      • ABM response: “The deadline for that year’s reports was 31 January which is clearly stated on the ACNC website next to the date lodged. I can assure you that we were not overdue.”
        • Reviewer comment: 31 January was a generous concession by the ACNC because of its newness, not the normal due date.
    • The coverage of finances in this review is left until the financial report proper (below).

ABOUT THE CHARITY

Who the Charity Benefits

  • Vision
    • From the Annual Report:

ABM wants to see people everywhere experience the wholeness of life God offers in Jesus Christ, and supports our Partners as they participate in God’s mission.

  • Mission
    • See ‘Purpose’ here.
    • ABM says that all its work is grounded in the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission.
    • The defining objective of the company, according to its governing document (see Charity’s Document, below), is ‘To lead, encourage and serve the Church in Christ’s mission in the world by” (a list of five methods).  ‘Mission’ is not defined, but only the fourth method could be fairly described as a non-church activity.
      • ABM response: “ABM is the national mission agency of the Anglican Church of Australia working with overseas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. We have a holistic view of God’s mission. We work with Anglican Church partners and others to see lives empowered and transformed spiritually, materially and socially. We help the Anglican Church and the wider community realise and respond to the invitation for all to be a part of God’s hope for the world.”

        Non-church activity

Ted I don’t agree with your assertion here that only the fourth mark of mission is a non-church activity. In terms of our Community Development work which I assume you would define as non-church, then mark 3, “Stand in solidarity with the poor and needy” and mark 5 “Protect, care for and renew life on our planet” are also certainly central drivers of our programs. Standing in solidarity but not doing anything is not really standing at all, as James says in 2;15.”

Reviewer comment: It appears that ABM has mixed my two dot points – I was not referring to the marks of mission.

  • Activities (What did ABM do?)
    • The AIS 2014’s Description of charity’s activities and outcomes:

ABM’s activities in educating and stimulating the Church in the responsibility of mission enabled funds to be raised to allow ABM to engage in and provide assistance to sustainable development activities, activities for the relief and eradication of poverty and emergency relief operated under the auspices of the Anglican Communion or in partnership with such Churches.

    • From the website, ABM has three main programs: Church to Church, Community Development, and Reconciliation.  You can see a description here.
    • A country by country naming of the ‘programs and projects’ within each of these programs can be seen on pages 10-11 of the Annual Report.
  • Outcomes (What did ABM deliver?)
    • Unfortunately in the AIS 2014, in response to the request to describe outcomes, nothing is given.
    • A description of achievements in the Anglicans in Development programs (presumably the Community Development Program above) is given on pages 12-17 of the Annual Report.
    • The ‘Church to Church Missioner’ reports on that Program on page 21 of the Report, and the Reconciliation Coordinator reports on page 20.
  • Impact (How were people’s lives improved?)
    • No information available
    • The Programs Director, in the Annual Report (page 9), reports that
      • This year we have also continued to work on measuring our Effectiveness (sic).  We have conducted a number of inquiries at community level, getting valuable feedback from our primary stakeholders as to how our programs have impacted on them.  And we continue to survey our partners to ensure we are providing the best possible support, and to enable them to tell us about areas of the partnership that can be improved.
        • ABM response: “On pages 6 & 7 of the Annual Report we have set out a snapshot of some of ABM’s achievements during the previous 12 months. I think that these are a good indication of ABM’s impact in a variety of communities worldwide.”
          • Reviewer comment: In charity evaluation, achievements are not necessarily impacts. The Programs Director implicitly acknowledges this by describing some of ABM’s efforts at measuring effectiveness.

Size of Charity

  • 2013-14 ‘Revenue’ was $5.4 m, far exceeding the $1.0 m threshold for the largest of the ACNC’s three categories (‘Large’).

Financial Year End

  • This means that the next financial report is due by 31 December 2015.   Before that the financial information on the Register will be up to 18 months out-of-date. 
    • ABM response: Practically speaking this is the normal situation as once the year closes accounts have to be prepared, audited and approved and all of that takes time.”
      • Reviewer comment: It is an alert to donors that they may need to seek more up-to-date information.

WHERE THE CHARITY OPERATES

Operating State(s)[iv]

  • You can see who is ‘operating’ in each of these states here.
    • Not to be confused with the representatives shown on the Board here.
  • ABM does not have a fundraising licence in any of the seven states that have a licensing regime.

CHARITY’S DOCUMENT (sic)

  • The ACNC allows charities to put their Annual Report or similar on the Register.  ABM has not taken advantage of this.
    • ABM response: Our Annual Statutory Reports for 2013 and 2014 are linked on our front ACNC page as requested by the ACNC. I’m not sure if you can add further reports but even if you can, I think that it may be confusing to people. Having two reports in different formats may well hinder rather than help, see the next answer.”
      • Reviewer comment: What ABM  call ‘Annual Statutory Reports’ are called ‘Financial Report’ by the ACNC. I think most users could distinguish between an Annual Report/Review and the Financial Report, especially as the first would be under Charity’s Document whereas the second would be under Annual Reporting.
    • The Annual Report is, however, available on the website.
      • ABM response: “This report is in a format specifically for ACFID and focusses specifically on the overseas aid part of ABM. I feel that our Statutory Accounts which are the detailed report for the whole organisation are the most applicable for the ACNC.”
        • Reviewer comment: The Financial Reports section may be, but the rest has fairly standard inclusions for an annual report. Anyway, ABM’s Financial Reports are clearly marked as being in the format required by ACFID.
  • Governing document
    • This is unsigned.
    • The director representing the Diocese of Tasmania, a position required by the governing document, is not identified in the list of directors on the website.
      • ABM response: “The incumbent resigned early this year due to other work commitments and a replacement is in progress.”
    • The President of the company is listed under ‘Our Board’ on the website, yet he is not a member of the Board.

RESPONSIBLE PERSONS

  • To see all a director’s positions in Australia, search here.

No. of Australian charity directorships[v]

Stephen HARRISON                     5

John ROUNDHILL                        2

Emma RIGGS                                3

John DEANE                                  3

Garry WEATHERILL                   3

Ian MORGAN                                3

Gregory THOMPSON                 12 (see footnote v)

David BATTRICK                          5

Martin DREVIKOVSKY                4

Claire DUFFY                                 2

Sarah MACNEIL                            9 (see footnote v)

Debra SAFFREY-COLLINS          1 (2 when ‘Saffrey Collins’ is included)

Beverly DYKES                              1 (2 when the name is spelt as it is on the website)

  • ABM response: “Ted I would advise against publishing this information as it is certainly incorrect. The ACNC makes no allowance for discrete names, that is, all the John Smiths come out as John Smith even though there may be many of them. For example, you quote the ACNC listing John Deane with 3 Directorships but I can confirm that John has nothing to do with the “Australian Computer Museum Society” for which the ACNC attributes a Directorship. There is clearly more than one John Deane in Australia who is a Director. The same is the case for Gregory Thompson who you claim 12 Directorships for but I can confirm our Greg Thompson only has 3. You will find this is the case in fact for any name you choose.”
    • Reviewer comment: This is the information that is on the public record. It is as submitted by charities to, and accepted by, the ACNC for publication. What I give here is what any Register user will duplicate if they do the search that they are invited to do by the ACNC. Even though donors are entitled to rely,  following the ACNC’s heavy promotion of the wisdom of using the Register in their research before giving, on the information that they find, I carefully point out that this result cannot be relied on. The problem would be minimised, perhaps eliminated, if charities submitted the full name.
  • ABM’s governing document requires that, until the top unit of the Church approves otherwise, ABM have fourteen directors. There are only thirteen.
    • From the website listing of board members, it appears that approval has been given for a representative from Tasmania to be no longer required.
      • ABM response: “As I mention above the situation is simply that the incumbent resigned suddenly and it takes time to identify and approve the replacement.”
    • The ‘Positions’ match neither the ‘Special responsibilities’ in the Directors’ Report, nor those shown on the website.
      • ABM response: Not really sure what you are saying here Ted. Our Directors don’t have any position on the board other than Member or perhaps Chair in the case of the Chair. The Special Responsibility referred to in the Statutory Accounts simply indicates that the member is also a member of another governance committee.”
        • Reviewer comment: There is a Deputy Chair in the Report, which implies a Chair. There’s a Chair and a Deputy Chair on the website.

 

(End of review of the ACNC Register information)

 

Latest financial report – detail

Where the directors put their name to the report – the Directors’ Report (page 3 of the Financial Report)

  • The required description of the performance measures used by ABM is missing.
  • ‘Information on directors’
    • Weatherhill is also the Chair of the Board.
    • The directors representing the Provinces of the Church and the Diocese of Tasmania (a governing document requirement) are not identified.
    • It is not obvious which director meets the governing document requirement for one director to have ‘expertise in Community Development programmes’.
  • ‘Members’ guarantee’:
    • The maximum guarantee per member is $10 [governing document], not $20.
    • A total guarantee of $240 doesn’t match the fact that there are only two members.

What was earned, what was consumed during the year – the Consolidated Statement of Profit or Loss and Other Comprehensive Income (page 11 of the Financial Report)

  • The item ‘Other comprehensive income for the year…’ is missing.
  • The format used in the Annual Report is more helpful.

Revenue from continuing operations $5.4 m (including Note 5)

  • It is not possible to reconcile ‘Gifts and Donations’ to the donation possibilities on the website.
  • Tax deductible donations are not distinguished from those that weren’t.

 Total Expenditure $4.8 m

  • This is a classification that mixes the nature of the expense with its function.
  • Expenses not disclosed:
    • Employee benefits expense
      • In June ABM had 18 full time and 10 part time employees.
    • Superannuation expense
    • Cost of goods sold
    • Fundraising expenses
    • Administration expenses

Program Expenditure $3.5 m

  • This is 72% of Total Expenditure, yet there is no Note explaining its composition.

Operating Expenses $1.9 m

  • This is 39% of Total Expenditure, yet there is no Note explaining its composition.
  • All the Total Expenditure here is normally from ‘operations’, so the use of this term is confusing.

Funds returned to DFAT $2K

  • This atypical item needs an explanation.

What’s left at the end of the year – the Consolidated Statement of Financial Position (page 12 of the Financial Report)

  • Goods were sold but there are no inventories.
    • ABM response: “Goods sold in the past have principally been a small volume of promotional Christmas Cards which come and go within the financial year.
  • There is no explanation for why cash and investments totalling $12.0 m are held in a charity that is constantly asking for donations.
    • ABM response: “As we have discussed above, ABM is a multifaceted organisation that has a long history. As can be readily ascertained from the Financial Statements our reserves are divided into a number of categories and many have restrictions on use.”
      • Reviewer’s comment: 1.  Reserves total $9.3 m, well under the $12.0 m I comment on. No restrictions are described in the Report.  3.  The mere existence of reserves divided into a number of categories doesn’t say anything about their availability for spending.
    • ABM response (part 2): Designated Reserves $3m. These are the program reserves that are given by donors for specific programs. From the P&L you can also see that our expenditure on programs was a similar number. It is vital for us to maintain a reserve for our programs as it is always possible for governments to change funding (as we have seen) or donors to change giving habits which then impacts on program expenditure. It is prudent and responsible to ensure that an organisation has sufficient program reserves so that should funding stop then the program can be wound down properly without causing damage to those recipients involved.”
      • Reviewer comment: Yes, they are designated, but that doesn’t mean that they need to be reserves. That’s your decision, the decision to keep rather than spend. And then you made a decision about how much to keep. How you made those two decisions is very relevant to a wise donor. Neither of these things are explained in the report.
    • ABM response (part 3):Bequest Reserves $5m. These are donations received over the last 100 years that have been given with a specific purpose in mind and which cannot be used for programs in any regular manner. Bequest funds tend to be inflexible and specific and given largely on the understanding that only the income earned is available for use with the capital balance preserved.”
      • Reviewer comment: To a reader, bequest doesn’t automatically mean that it can’t be spent. Again, therefore, an explanation is very useful – especially as $4.6 m of the $5.3 m are ‘General Bequests’, a title that in no way should automatically lead to the presumption that they are capital that can’t be spent.
    • ABM response: (part 4) The remainder of our reserves are to provide stability and certainty for the organisation going forward with the intention that investment income earned assists greatly to offset admin costs.”
      • Reviewer comment: The only other reserve is the $635K Asset Revaluation Reserve, a reserve that has nothing to do with money from donors (directly anyway).

Essential information to go with the figures: Notes to Financial Statements (page 15 of the Financial Report)

  • 1  Summary of significant Accounting Policies
    • Missing Notes:
      • New mandatory Accounting Standards and Interpretations adopted
      • Current and non-current classification
      • Fair value measurement
    • Is it correct that the estimation of the useful lives of assets, the impairment to non-financial assets, and the amount of employee benefits were not critical estimates?

An independent opinion on the financial statements: the Independent auditor’s report (page 29 of the Financial Report)

  • This is a ‘clean’ opinion.  Read here and here to draw the right conclusions from this.

Membership of accountability organisations claimed

 

(End of review)

 

 

[i] Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, Australia’s national regulator of charities.

[ii] Those who wrote the rules for the financial statements say that, as a user, you ‘are assumed to have a reasonable knowledge of business and economic activities and accounting and a willingness to study the information with reasonable diligence’ [Framework for the Preparation and Presentation of Financial Statements, www.aasb.gov.au, paragraph 25].

[iii] Although authorised by the directors on 19 September 2014, they didn’t sign until 28 October 2014.  (The auditor had, unusually, signed the day before.)

[iv] This is how the ACNC explains ‘operating locations’ in their application guide: ‘You need to give details about where in Australia your organisation conducts (or plans to conduct) its activities.’

[v] Because of the possibility of two (or more) directors having the same name on the register of responsible persons, it is not possible to be definitive about the number of directorships held.

 

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