Australian Missionary Tidings: mini-charity review

The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has been superseded.  Please start with the updated review published in June 2108, and come back to this one as needed.

Mini-charity review of Australian Missionary Tidings (AMT), 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.)

Is it responsive to feedback?

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

Is AMT registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • AMT is a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
    • It is permitted to omit ‘Ltd’/’Limited’ at the end of its name.
  • It operates as AMT without having registered the name as a business name.
  • AMT operates in Australia, per the ACNC Register, only in Queensland. This is not correct – they also have workers in the other five states. They also have an online invitation to give.
    • They hold a fundraising licence only in Queensland. They do not explain why they do not hold one in the other four states that have a licensing regime.
  • AMT operates, per the ACNC Register, in many overseas countries. Are these the countries in which AMT has missionaries, or merely those where it sends money?

What do they do?

Do they share the Gospel?[1]

  • It appears not.

What impact are they having?

  • No information found.

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

  • This is not disclosed. And there is insufficient disclosure about the expenses to make an estimate.

Do they pay their board members?

  • A director’s entitlements do not include payment for his or her service as a director [Constitution, clause 9.1).
  • There is no disclosure about paying directors, and the disclosure of expenses is insufficient to confirm one way or the other.

Can you get a tax deduction?

Is their online giving secure?

  • Yes

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (lodged five and a half months after their year-end, two months later 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 over 12 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016: No.
    • Many of the figures in the ‘Financial information’ section do not match those in the financial statements.
    • 2017’s activities are not given.
  • Financial Report 2016: No
    • The ‘Balance as per statement of cash flows’ in Note 5 differs from the balance in that statement by $520K.
    • Buildings are not depreciated.
    • Land and buildings are said to have been revalued in 2014 yet there is an unexplained increase in the value of the land this year.
    • Are ‘Allocated gifts unpaid’ really a liability, i.e., a present obligation?
    • The figure for ‘Cashflow from operations’ in Note 12 does not the match that figure in the Statement of Cash Flows.
    • There is a large unexplained item in Note 12: ‘net gain from donation of the property’.
    • 86% of the expenses are included in one item, ‘Missionary expenses’, without any explanation of that item.
    • It is not clear whether the movement’s missionaries work for AMT.
    • ‘Other Comprehensive Income’ is missing from the Statement of Profit or Loss and Other Comprehensive Income.
    • The single line item in the Statement of Changes in Equity is mislabeled, and the other two that are meant to be there are missing.
    • Cash inflows from operating activities are lumped together in one item, the inappropriately named ‘Receipts from customers’.
    • The policy Note is missing four of the Notes that are expected.
    • The following Notes are missing:
      • Critical accounting estimates
      • Equity/reserves
      • Key management personnel disclosures
      • Commitments
      • Related party transactions
    • There is no explanation of the difference between ‘general offerings and givings’ ($2.41 m) and ‘donations’ ($252K).

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • Surplus as a percentage of revenue increased dramatically from one fifth of a percent to 16%.
  • ‘Employee benefits expense’ is 7% of expenses (unchanged from last year).
  • ‘Cash and cash equivalents’ represents 19 months of revenue. There is no explanation for holding this much unspent.
  • Both short-term and long-term financial structure are sound.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • The auditor, Jason Croston, for SRJ Walker Wayland, gave a ‘clean’ opinion.
  • To take the right amount of comfort for this finding, please
    • read here and here, and
    • re-read the ‘Financial Report 2016’ section, above.

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

  • No
    • A PO Box is given for the street address.
    • AMT doesn’t just operate in Queensland.
    • Does it really ‘operate’ in all those countries?
    • ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’ are blank. (The ACNC says that they are not compulsory.)

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

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • It is only from the AIS 2016 that we know that ‘Missionary expenses’ in the Statement of Profit or Loss and Other Comprehensive Income is the grants and donations that AMT made (the item has no explanatory Note). Beyond that we are not told where your donations went.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Those listed at the bottom here.
  • But there’s an extra one on the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’), Robert Haskard, and I presume that Michelle Moss is meant to be Shelley Moss.
    • Brian Adams (an AMT executive)
    • Gordon Cowell
    • Keith Cruickshank
    • David Ferguson
    • Juliette Hackett
    • Robert Haskard
    • Peter McCrindle
    • Elaine Meers
    • Michelle Moss
    • Kenneth Newton
    • Robert Ottosson
    • Terrence Parsons
      • Is it this Terence Parsons?
  • The board is responsible to the members. There are 70 members.

To whom is AMT accountable?

  • In a news article, AMT mentions its membership of Missions Interlink:
    • AMT is a company limited by guarantee, required to report annually to the ASIC. It is also a member of Missions Interlink, which defines standards of governance, management and financial reporting, and identifies mechanisms to maintain accountability.
      • For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.
  • AMT is also accountable to the ACNC.
  • And, as a company, to ASIC.

 

 

  1. 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.
  2. DGR Status: For a number of years AMT have been investigating ways of registering to be eligible for tax deductibility (DGR status) for donors giving money to overseas projects that our missionaries in overseas countries carry out in the areas of health, education, public welfare and disaster. All indications were that AMT would not be approved. In February 2015, it was suggested that AMT, Stewards and Emmaus Bible College work together with Hands & Feet operated by Joe Brown and his board in Sydney, as they already had DGR registration for Australia. After some negotiation with the ATO and ACNC they approved to the registering of Hands & Feet as an incorporated entity not for profit organisation that has tax deductible gift recipient (DGR) status for Australia and overseas. A new board has been appointed with representatives from AMT (Gordon Cowell), Stewards (Philip Adams), Emmaus (Len Smith), Hands & Feet (Joe Brown, Edward Lalabalavu, Bradley Scott) and CCCAust. (David Smith, Ross Bunyon).”
  3. This review incorrectly makes a distinction between the Christian Brethren and the Open Brethren.

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