Australian Churches of Christ Global Mission Partners Ltd: 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The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has since been superseded.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 Australian Churches of Christ Global Mission Partners Ltd (GMP) 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?

  • Yes. Their final comments are included where appropriate below.

Is GMP registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • Other registrations:
    • As a public company (CAN 614 443 186), a company limited by guarantee
    • Four business names: Churches of Christ Overseas Aid, embody, Safe Water September, and Global Mission Partners.
    • GMP operates throughout Australia and has a request for donations on the internet. It has a fundraising licence in all seven states that have a licensing regime except for Queensland. Perhaps it believes that it is exempt there.
      • Ministry comment: ‘GMP has formal confirmation from the Qld Office of Fair Trading that we are not required to register in that state.’

What does GMP do?

  • See here.
    • Ministry comment: ‘Mission Statement: Linking People Churches and Resources Across Nations’
  • The Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2015 is more accurate:
    • Receiving of funds from supporters and distribution of these to approved overseas and Australian indigenous projects.
    • ‘Partner With Us’ in the main menu shows the projects by country.

Does GMP share the Gospel?

  • No
    • Ministry comment: ‘GMP shares the Gospel through support for church planting and development and evangelism via International Church Partnerships and GMP has its own specific and direct outreach activities with indigenous churches through Indigenous Ministries Australia as well as through a ministry of compassion and development through COCOA.’

What impact are they having?

  • Nothing systematic found.
  • The Annual Report 2016 has some stories and results. I’ll let you be the judge as to how well they answer the question of impact as defined by the ACNC.

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

  • If we define ‘Programs’ less ‘Program support costs’ as the expenses ‘directly incurred…’, GMP incurred $1.35 m to invest $3.52 in beneficiaries.
    • This is ‘administration’ of 38%.
      • Ministry comment: ‘The identification of local and overseas mission workers (missionaries) and program implementation support staff as administrative is not accurate and is unhelpful. The ACFID Code of Conduct standards determines the reporting and categorising of the various aspects of our work in the Annual Report. These standards are accepted by the ACNC.’
        • Reviewer response: There is no mention of these workers and staff in the financial statements; the ACFID’s Code cannot overrule the reporting requirements in the ACNC Act, nor should it be allowed to dictate what is required by donors to understand ‘administration’ as defined by the ACNC.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • To GMP’s (internal) fund, Churches of Christ Overseas Aid, yes.

Is GMP’s online giving secure?

  • Security is not mentioned on the first three pages of the giving process.
    • Ministry comment: ‘The final giving page where we take donor and credit card details into our system is secure and noted as such. We are in the process of constructing a new website. And will take this comment into account.’

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (four+ months after their year-end – and two and a half months earlier than 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 six months in the past.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2015: No
    • Three figures in the ‘Financial Information’ section don’t match those in the financial statements.
    • No outcomes are reported.
  • Financial Report 2015: Yes
    • ‘Employee benefits expenses’ is not disclosed.
      • From the AIS 2015 we know that it is $930K.
        • If part-time is 50% and casual 10% of full-time, this total represents average annual benefits of $66K.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • There was a dramatic fall in the surplus as a percentage of income, from 31% to negative 3%.
    • Ministry comment: ‘In the main due to the following factors – 1. changes in the level of bequest income. 2. changes in the level of investment income 3. a gain on the sale of an asset that was then reinvested and 4. The timing of payments for an emergency appeal where income in one financial year is expended in the following year.
  • GMP holds $6.48 m of investments not expected to be sold within the next 12 months. There is no explanation for how this fits with the mission. (There are no restricted reserves.)
    • Ministry comment: ‘These funds are invested and used according to the purpose for which they were given and the capital is not available for immediate use.
  • ‘Funds to programs’ is 62% of expenses, but there is no explanation of to whom this money was sent and for what purpose.
    • Ministry comment: ‘There are figures linked to the countries where we work and stories of the recipients in the Annual Report.  Pg 49 of the 2016 Annual Report gives the breakdown by Country.
      • Reviewer response: The Annual Report has not been put on the Register, and there is no reference to this information in the Financial Report.

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

  • He did not give a ‘clean’ opinion[1]. This was because GMP’s directors still think that ‘it is not practicable to maintain these controls (i.e. internal controls) over donations and other income raising activities, not directly conducted by their staff or designated volunteers.’
    • Ministry comment: We have commented on this in the past – we have cash offerings taken up on our behalf in local churches and the church sends those funds to us. It is impossible to audit this entire process from offering plate to office without talking to every church cash donor and insisting that everyone who gives cash in an offering place also gets a receipt at the moment of giving the cash. This is an external activity, and not something within our internal control – hence the comment. As follows…
      • Australian Churches of Christ Global Mission Partners Inc, maintains effective internal controls over donations and other income raising activities. However, as is common for organisations of this type, it is not practicable to maintain these controls over donations and other income raising activities, not directly conducted by their staff or designated volunteers. Accordingly, our audit in relation to donations and other income raising activities was limited to amounts recorded.
    • This is saying that the auditor offers no view on whether this money made it into GMP’s bank account.
      • Ministry comment: ‘That is because our staff do collect such donations – local church folk do.’
    • The statement contradicts the one that immediately precedes it: GMP ‘maintains effective internal controls over donation and other income raising activities.’
    • The people who are not under control are not identified (i.e. people other than ‘staff or designated volunteers’.)
      • Ministry comment: ‘Those not under ‘control’ are congregations that take up offerings on our behalf
    • The auditor says that GMP’s gap in internal control is ‘common for organisations of this type’. My reviews of these organisations suggest otherwise.
      • Ministry comment: ‘Most organisations you have reviewed do not have an ‘cash offering pattern’ as part of their external fundraising activities and please note that the gap is NOT in internal control see above. Following last year’s review we consulted with another Auditor in relation to the opinion on this matter and it confirms the appropriateness of this Audit qualification.
        • Reviewer comment: The auditor says that the gap is in internal controls: ‘it is not practicable to maintain these controls’. That is, internal controls.
    • Reviewer response to ministry comments: This shows a misunderstanding of the AASB’s Guidance Statement GS019 Auditing Fundraising Revenue of Not-for-Profit Entities (www.auasb.gov.au).

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

  • Apart from missing the four business names, yes.
    • Ministry comment: ‘Global Mission Partners’ business name was officially registered after the ACNC reporting was lodged and we will check the Register to confirm that the change has been made

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

  • ‘Donation to International Church Partnerships (ICP)’
  • ‘Donation to COCOA’
  • ‘Donation to Indigenous Ministries Australia (IMA)’

Who are the people controlling GMP?

  • Not shown on the website, but listed under ‘Responsible Persons’ on the ACNC Register:

Roger Bawden

Gordon Buxton

Rodney Cousins

John Gilmore

Sean Kum

Gemma Roberts

Mark Stevens

Julie Trinnick

Janet Woodlock

Barrie Yesberg

To whom is GMP accountable?

  • The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID). This is because it is a member, claimed in the website footer. Confirmed (under one of its business names).
  • Missions Interlink, again claimed in the footer. Confirmed (under its business name).
  • GMP is also accountable to the ACNC.

 

 

  1. To take the right amount of comfort from a ‘clean opinion’, please read here and here.

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