Asian Outreach Australia Limited: charity review

A charity review of Asian Outreach Australia Limited (AO), 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.)

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

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • I sent them a draft of this review. Like last, they…did not respond.

Is AO registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • AO is a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
    • As it doesn’t have the necessary provisions in its constitution, it is not entitled to omit ‘Limited/Ltd’ when it uses its company name.
  • It holds no business names, so is not permitted to use the name it uses on its website, Asian Outreach Australia, nor the one on its Facebook page, Asian Outreach Australia -AOA.
  • ‘Operating State(s)’ on the ACNC Register is blank, but AO operates in Australia in at least Victoria. Plus, it has an internet invitation to give. It does not have a fundraising licence in any of the states that have a regime applicable to charities[1].
  • AO operates overseas, per the ACNC Register, in Cambodia and Vietnam.
    • Its Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2016 does not match this information, adding Myanmar, Mongolia, and Thailand.

What do they do?

  • By project: Mongolia and ‘a sensitive country in SEAsia’.
  • By ministry ‘area’.
  • By donation options: see below.
  • What they said they did in 2016 (AIS 2016):
    • We provided training, mentoring & advice to our partners. This is towards our objective of building capacity and capability within our local leaders; financial support and visitation of volunteers in Vietnam, Myanmar, Mongolia, Cambodia, Thailand.
      • ‘Visitation’ is a Christian term meaning a visit by a supervisor.

Does MST share the Gospel?[2]

  • Going by the projects, see above, no. But through this kind of activity, they do.
  • They address the question of community development versus planting churches here.

What impact are they having?

  • Nothing systematic found.

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

  • If we define ‘direct’ as ‘Grants and donations…’, then it cost $9K to deliver $44.
    • This was a considerable improvement over last year’s 14K to deliver $31K.

Do they pay their board members?

  • This is not prohibited under AO’s constitution.
  • There is insufficient information about the expenses to check for these payments.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No
  • But they promote a tax-deduction opportunity under ‘Community development’ called ‘the Bright Road’. However, there is no link to enable you to give to that organization.
    • the Bright Road project is a business name owned by ActionLove Australia (Overseas Aid) Limited. This company is not registered as a charity (nor for GST).
      • Its trustee for this Fund is though (the charity The Trustee For ActionLove Australia Overseas Aid Fund mentioned above).
      • Given the fact that AO’s directors are also the directors of this charity, you would expect that the trustee is AO. But according to the governing document on the ACNC Register, it is a Victorian incorporated association that was deregistered in 2007.
    • Other than the above request for funds, there is no mention of any of the above organisations on the AO website.
    • What is the relationship of the above entities to the association below?

Is their online giving secure?

  • The ‘Donate Now’ button led to this, so I didn’t go further:

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (five months after their year-end, the same time as last year).
    • 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 14 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016: No
    • Zero for ‘Employee expenses/payments’ doesn’t fit with the reporting, elsewhere in the AIS, of two employees.
    • No outcomes are reported.
  • Financial Report 2016: Yes
    • No such report was required by the ACNC. (And AO didn’t submit one voluntarily.)
    • But one is available to you because of their membership of Missions Interlink:

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • The ‘Financial Information’ in the AIS 2016 shows that
    • Their recorded a $18K surplus on a turnover of $71K.
    • They had equity of $30K.
    • ‘Employee expenses/payments’ was zero.
      • But they had, at least at the time of the AIS 2016, two employees.
    • See also ‘What do they spend…’, above.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • An audit report is on neither the ACNC Register nor the website. Nor is one offered. (But they should have one – see the Financial Report 2016 section above.)

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

  • No
    • ‘Operating State(s)’ is blank.
    • ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’ are still blank, but they are not compulsory.

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

  • See Is their online giving secure? above.

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • Other than ‘for use outside Australia’ (AIS 2016), this is not disclosed.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Not shown on the website, but per the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’) they are:
  • The directors are responsible to the members. The number of members is not disclosed.

To whom are AO accountable?

  • As a charity, to the ACNC.
  • Not claimed on the website, but AO is a member of Missions Interlink, an organisation that has standards with which it must comply.
    • For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.
  1. The law in this area is not straightforward and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.
  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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *