Leading the Way with Dr. Michael Youssef Australia Limited: charity review

That’s the business of this charity – Biblical teaching broadcasts by Dr Michael Youssef.

Through these broadcasts, and an online invitation to give, the charity took in $2.29 million in donations last year[1].

They say that they have ‘a reputation for accountability’:

But both these organisations are American, and as the Australian charity is independent, this membership and this rating is of little relevance to Australian donors.

The charity is not accredited with the Australian body, the CMA Standards Council.

The usual disclosure about the members’ guarantee is lacking the number of members, so it is not possible to assess the accountability from this quarter.

As for the accountability on the staff, a board of six[2], when one of those six is the chief worker, another his wife, and a third the Regional Director Australia & New Zealand[3], and a fourth has been a director for 22 years, is open to question.

I sent a draft of this review to the charity. They did not respond.

The charities’ regulator, the ACNC, in their article, Donating to Legitimate Charities, gives “some things to consider to help you make sure your donation is going where it is intended”:

  1. Check the charity’s name.
  2. Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
  3. Be careful of online requests for donations.
  4. No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here’s the results for ‘Leading the Way’ (LTW), with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[4].

1.  A search on the name ‘Leading the Way’ on the ACNC Register of charities leads to two charities:

That it is the second one[5] is confirmed by the website:

LTW has no business names registered, so it should not be trading under the name ‘Leading the Way’[6].

Although it is a registered Australian charity, the power of the US charity, Leading the Way with Dr Michael Youssef, Inc, to appoint a majority of the Australian board[7] means that it is controlled by the US charity:

2. There is nothing to indicate that LTW use third party collectors.

3. The “web address begins with ‘https’” and there is a “closed padlock symbol next to the web address in the address bar”, so the website is secure [the first ACNC article above]. There is a ‘SecureTrust’ logo two pages before you enter your information, but the certification is for the US organisation.

4. The Australian Business Register (linked from LTW’s ACNC Register record), says that the charity is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts[8].

However, this is contradicted on the giving page for one of the projects:

There is no explanation for this contradiction.

5. Objectives/Mission

Neither ‘mission’ nor ‘objectives’ are mentioned on the website. In the Director’s (sic) Report[9], in the Financial Report 2018, the ‘objectives’ of LTW are given under ‘Principal Activities’:

Activities

From the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2018:

Broadcasting the teaching of Dr Michael Youssef across Australia via various media platforms and raising support for various ministry activities.

There may be more in the Annual Report 2018, but the link from the ACNC Register is dead.

How this translated into dollars spent

The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report 2018 on the ACNC Register. However, there is a major issue with this Report: it does not report on all the results or position of LTW. The other charity above, Leading the Way Media Broadcasting Trust, is controlled by exactly the same people as those who control LTW, yet is not included with LTW’s results. ‘Donations and Sponsorships’, for instance, should be another $1.13 million (making the total over 100% higher).

It was not possible to even manually add the two sets of figures – the ACNC Register had a single page with the message ‘Placeholder file uploaded by administrator to fix error on form’ in place of the Financial Report 2018.

If you are still prepared to consider donating, here’s the audited figures for LTW’s spending (without the Trust) [10]:

No explanation is given for ‘Other expenses’, 38% of the total, nor ‘Project reserve expenses’, 13% of the total[11]. (There a ‘Detailed Profit or Loss Statement’, but it is unaudited, and because it uses a different classification of expenses, is of little help.)

The average full-time employee benefits was $68K [AIS 2018].

Outcomes/impact

No information found.

 

For more a more in-depth review, please contact me.

 

 

  1. They may be open to you volunteering, but they didn’t have any volunteers when they reported in their Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2018.
  2. I don’t believe that the Secretary is a ‘responsible person’.
  3. Here are the current ‘responsible persons’:Christopher MakinCraig GribbleElizabeth Youssef

    Graeme Blaiklock

    Michael Youssef

    Peter King

    Phillip Cave

  4. Focus on the nature of the charity’s work, its beneficiaries and the impact the charity is having in the community.Is it clear what the charity is trying to achieve and how its activities work towards its objectives?Would you like to spend your money, or time if volunteering, to support these objectives?Is the charity being transparent about its activities? [A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering].
  5. The inclusion of his name, done in 2000, is interesting given what what he says on the website:cid:image005.png@01D4E335.EEB26EB0
  6. Up until late 2000, its name was a little closer to the one that it uses now, ‘Leading the Way Australia Limited.’
  7. From the constitution, ACNC Register.
  8. LTW is, however, a ‘legitimate’ charity.
  9. Which is, like the Directors’ Declaration, unsigned. The latter is audited.
  10. It was not possible to see the expenses of the Trust – the Register had a single page with the message ‘Placeholder file uploaded by administrator to fix error on form’ in place of the Financial Report 2018.
  11. The single Note that is there provides no extra information.

 

Barnabas Fund (Australia) Ltd: charity review

This is a review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink’, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission[1].

Barnabas Fund (Australia) Ltd‘ is one such Member[2], and an organisation that seeks donations online.

Both Members and Associates have to accept a set of standards, the introduction to which includes this statement:

http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-20.png

The response of this member, via the CEO, Ashley Saunders, is included immediately below and where applicable throughout the review.

‘As you know, we have entered into correspondence with you regarding your previous ‘review,’ [3]however you have not agreed to remove that publication owing to its factual and other errors . We are entering into correspondence with you regarding this ‘review’ and we trust that you both take the opportunity to amend this ‘review’ in light of our comments, and to ensuring that our comments are fully and correctly recorded in any ‘review’ you publish.’

Reviewer’s response: Despite a response to the draft review that was seventeen months after the invitation, we carefully considered what Ashley had to say. We made a few changes, but nothing he said gave us reason to accede to his request for the review to be withdrawn.

For the current review, we have updated it for the fact that Missions Interlink now uses the correct name of the charity, but that is the only change that was necessary as a result of his comments.

The charities’ regulator, the ACNC, in their article, Donating to Legitimate Charities, gives “some things to consider to help you make sure your donation is going where it is intended”:

  1. Check the charity’s name.
  2. Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
  3. Be careful of online requests for donations.
  4. No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here are the results for ‘Barnabas Fund (Australia) Ltd’[4], with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[5].

  1. A search on the ACNC Register of charities gives a charity with that name (Barnabas).
  2. Does Barnabas use street collectors? There is no mention of them on the website.

The CEO’s comment:We do not mention the use of street collectors on our website because we do not use them.’

3. The “web address begins with ‘https’ and there is a closed padlock symbol next to the web address in the address bar”, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above].

On the giving page it says, ‘Donate securely’, but doesn’t give the basis for that claim.

The CEO’s comment: ‘You have already noted that the website is secure.’

Reviewer’s response: Many charities consider it wise to assure their donors, before they are asked to enter their personal information, including their credit card details, that their information is secure. They do this by stating the name of the service that provides that security, with a link to the site of that service.

4. The Australian Business Register (linked from Barnabas’ ACNC Register record), says that the charity is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts. But it is a ‘legitimate’ charity’.

  • Although not entitled itself, Barnabas controls, via another public company, Barnabas Relief Education and Development Ltd, a fund that can accept tax deductible donations. However, as was the case in my last review, there is no mention of this fund either on the website or in the Financial Report 2018[6].

The CEO’s comment: As you note, Barnabas Relief Education and Development Ltd is a separate entity. Although I have no involvement with that company, so far as I am aware it cannot at this stage accept tax deductible donations.

Further, as you are aware, whether an organisation can or cannot accept tax deductible donations does not impact its legitimate status as a charitable organisation.’

Reviewer’ response: There was no suggestion that (1) the company can accept tax deductible donations, and (2) the company was or was not a charity. The comment is about the fund that Barnabas controls.

5. Activities

  • ‘What we do’ on the website is not about Australia, but the international organisation generally.
  • Likewise, for the second to fourth sections under ‘Activities and Beneficiaries’ in the AIS 2018.
  • The fifth section, however, describes what Barnabas did in 2018:

  • BFA operates overseas, per the ACNC Register, in United Kingdom and United States. They send money to the US, but the UK?

The CEO’s comment: ‘Consistent with the section of our 2018 AIS which you have copied (above), funds raised are primarily directed to Christian Relief International (CRI), a USA-based charity with similar objectives to Barnabas Fund (Australia) Limited. The management of the expenditure into the countries we work in is managed by our International projects team based in Pewsey, Wiltshire, UK.’

Reviewer’s response: Barnabas, the Australian charity being reviewed, therefore does not operate in the UK.

How it says it uses donations

The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report 2018 on the ACNC Register. Do you provide or give things to, receive things from, or have oversight of, or review, of Barnabas[7][vii]? Perhaps you intend to donate or are one of the people who gave $5.49 million (excluding bequests) [Financial Report 2018]. Do you depend on a regulator to ensure that you are provided with suitable financial statements (called general purpose financial statements)? In other words, can you ring Barnabas’ office and request that they prepare financial statements that answer the question or questions you have about the charity? Highly unlikely. Yet the directors[8], with the agreement of the auditor[9], say you can:

The CEO’s comment: ‘We regularly communicate with donors, and field questions regarding the expenditure of funds raised. The financial statements prepared and lodged with the ACNC meet the requirements of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission Act 2012.’

Reviewer’s response: (a) Answering donors’ questions is not a substitute for publishing information about where their money goes. (b) The fact that accounts have been lodged on the ACNC Register does not automatically mean that they comply with the ACNC’s requirements.

So, the financial statements have not been drawn up to suit you. Why, then, would you rely on them?

The CEO’ comment: We reject your statement that “the financial statements have not been drawn up to suit you,” and your conclusion that they should not be relied upon – which we find to be an objectionable assertion which we invite you to withdraw.’

Reviewer’s response: If there are ‘users who are dependent on [Barnabas’] general purpose financial reports’ – an assertion that is supported by the evidence – then the claim is correct.

However, should you choose to do so[10], here is where the donations went:

The destination of the ‘charitable expenditure’ is not disclosed. (Note the absence of Notes explaining any of the material items.)

The CEO’s comment: ‘We communicate regularly with donors regarding the expenditure of funds raised. As mentioned above, the financial statements lodged with the ACNC meet the requirements of the relevant legislation.’

Reviewer’s response: See our first response in this section.

In the Directors’ Report [Financial Report 2018], which is not a report that is audited, we are told that the ‘majority of contributions’ are sent to a US organisation:

The CEO’s comment: ‘Our financial statements are audited annually and, as we have mentioned to you in previous correspondence, we have never received a qualified audit. We invite you to withdraw your above statement – which we believe can only be included so as to infer a degree of irregularity that is neither appropriate nor warranted.’

Reviewer’s comment: No suggestion of irregularity was either made or inferred – the Directors’ Report is never part of the financial statements required by the Accounting Standards, and is therefore not audited.

This is an organisation independent of the Barnabas group of organisations:

No explanation is given by Barnabas for directing the money to CRI rather than to the US Barnabas organisation. In fact, there is no reference to CRI on the Barnabas website, and only one incidental reference on the main Barnabas Fund website.

The CEO’s comment:The section quoted by you (above) outlines the nature of our association with CRI. You have also previously quoted from another section of our 2018 AIS that comments on the management of the expenditure into the countries we work in by our International projects team based in Pewsey, Wiltshire, UK.’

Reviewer’s response: This explains neither the use of an outside organisation rather than a Barnabas organisation, nor the lack of information on the websites.

There is no disclosure of what happens to the money after it reaches CRI. The CRI website has no information about CRI other than what I have quoted above.

The CEO’s comment: ‘As mentioned previously, we regularly communicate with donors regarding the use of the funds raised. If you would like to receive our regular communications, we would be pleased to add you to our list of recipients. Indeed, this is a significant aspect of charitable operations that you ignore in your ‘review’ – we take pleasure in engaging directly with donors through regular communications and ad hoc telephone calls or personal meetings; the purpose of financial statements lodged with the ACNC is for public accountability – and as I have indicated on a number of occasions, our financial statements lodged with the ACNC meet the required standards.’

Reviewer’s response: (a) Whether or not Barnabas communicates with donors outside the documents on the ACNC Register and its website was outside the coverage of this review (see the fifth paragraph above for that coverage). (b) The existence of accounts on the ACNC Register is not a guarantee that they comply with the ACNC’s requirements. (c) As is shown by the practice of many other charities, what happens to donors’ money can be part of ‘public accountability’.

Unlike Barnabas in the US, CRI is not a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).

Impact

The question of the impact of your donations is not addressed anywhere. (There is no Annual Report[11].)

The CEO’s comment:May I please point out for a final time: the documents lodged with the ACNC meet the required standards. We communicate regularly with donors regarding the use of the funds raised, and report to them on the impact of their gifts.’

Reviewer’s response: (a) Other than an audit report, no support for the claim of compliance has been offered. (b) As shown by many other charities, even those not subject to the higher standards of Christ-centered charities, the impact of donations can be part of public accountability.

 

Please contact me if you need a more in-depth review.

 

 

  1. https://missionsinterlink.org.au/about/
  2. http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-21.png
  3. From the MacMillan Dictionary Blog: ‘Quotation marks can also highlight that a word is being used somehow peculiarly – a writer may wish to indicate irony, inaccuracy, or scepticism, for example; used this way, they’re called scare quotes. In the line: At the party I met a teacher, a journalist, and an ‘artist’, the scare quotes around artist act as a distancing device, probably signalling doubt about the person’s credentials as an artist. The effect is similar to the Irish phrase mar dhea.’
  4. See here for my last review.
  5. Focus on the nature of the charity’s work, its beneficiaries and the impact the charity is having in the community.Is it clear what the charity is trying to achieve and how its activities work towards its objectives?Would you like to spend your money, or time if volunteering, to support these objectives?Is the charity being transparent about its activities? [A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering].
  6. The Financial Report 2018 says that
  7. [vii] From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au: http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/word-image-15.png  
  8. Anne WillettAshley Saunders is the CEO of BarnabasCaroline Kerslake is a board member of the UK Barnabas organisationColin Johnston was the Managing Director of Barnabas until Ashley started

    Ian Clarkson

    Kakha Tsagareli – this one?

    Rosemary Soohkdeo, another board member of the UK Barnabas organisation

  9. Cameron Bradley, of PKF Hacketts Audit.
  10. If you do decide to persist, I suggest that you read my previous review. Most the accounting and reporting issues identified there remain.
  11. Although ‘Documents’ on the ACNC Register lists an ‘Annual Report’, this document not what the ACNC, and most others, mean by an ‘annual report’. It is merely another copy of the Financial Report 2018.

 

Northpointe Baptist Church Inc.: charity review

This is a charity review of Northpointe Baptist Church Incorporated (NBC),

The previous review (in black) is used as a base, with comment only if the situation has changed or extra information would be helpful.

an organisation that has a public invitation to give. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

Conflict of interest

I am an active participant in the community that, many years ago, chose to incorporate as NBC.  However, neither myself nor my wife are, nor do we intend to become, members of the entity being reviewed, the legal entity. Some conflict of interest remains though, so I have been careful to review this charity in the same way as I have reviewed every other charity.

Is it responsive to feedback?

  • There is no invitation, on the website, to submit feedback or complaints.
  • Accountability is not mentioned on the website.

NBC is now a member of Baptist Union of New South Wales, itself a registered charity.

  • I sent them a draft of this review. They did not respond.

Is it registered?

  • Yes, as a charity.
  • NBC is an Australian Capital Territory (ACT) incorporated association (A 04911).
    • The ABN record is still incorrect in showing that NBC is unincorporated.
  • It operates, per the ACNC Register, in Australia only in that territory.
  • It holds no business names. It therefore should to ‘trade’ only under its full name. Not like it does on its website and on Facebook[1].
    • The homepage now has the full name.
  • The ACNC Register, supported by the website, says that it operates overseas in Cambodia, Japan, Rwanda, Spain, Myanmar, and Viet Nam.
  • It has no fundraising licences. Whether or not it requires one in a state that has a licensing regime applicable to charities, depends, in the first instance, on whether that state believes that an internet invitation to give qualifies as ‘fundraising’.

What does NBC do?

  • The usual local church things: see ‘Missions’, ‘Ministries’, and ‘Our Message’ under ‘About’, all on the home page.

Do they share the Gospel[1]?

  • Yes

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?

  • The expenditure is not classified to allow an estimate of this figure.

Do they pay their board members?

  • There is nothing to prohibit this in the constitution.
  • The financial disclosure doesn’t allow a check for such payments.
  • It appears that no such payments were made.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • It is not until the fourth page of the process that security is mentioned. And then in small print.
    • Stripe is used, so your payment should be secure.
  • Online giving is no longer offered.

Where were the (net) donations sent?

  • For only $12K of the $41K is this disclosed: ‘Manna (Vietnam Orphanage)’.
    • How does this relate to ‘GVI’ Viet Nam (above) and here?
  • The person or organisation, and their country is shown in Notes 2 and 3 for $49K of the $69K total.

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

  • ‘General Funds’
  • ‘Missions’
  • ‘GVI’
  • ‘Building Fund’
  • Online giving is no longer offered.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (four and a half months after their year-end, three weeks later than last year).
  • Yes (four months after their year-end, three weeks earlier than last year).

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2017 2018: No
    • The ‘Description of charity’s activities and outcomes’
      • is not about 2017 2018 particularly, and
      • has no outcomes.
    • The ‘Accounting method…’ does not match the one that has been used.
    • ‘Donations and bequests’ does not match the figure in the Profit & Loss Statement Profit & Loss [Last Year Analysis] report.
    • There are again no figures under ‘Balance Sheet Extract’.
    • The ‘Extract’ has been completed this time.
  • Financial Report 2017 2018: Yes
    • But only because it has been voluntarily submitted to the ACNC, and voluntarily submitted reports do not need to comply with the ACNC legislation.
      • NBC’s doesn’t comply because it deviates materially from what is required by the accounting profession.
        • For instance, there are no Notes to the accounts or Directors’ Declaration, and there is significant confusion over the reporting framework.
      • There is now a directors’ declaration.
      • There are now Notes, but
        • there are only six, with two of them being unnecessary
        • Three of the Notes do not match the statements
        • they are not keyed to the statements, and
        • many of the required Notes are missing.
      • The Report is still missing two of the required statements.
      • The two statements that are included differ materially from what’s required by the Accounting Standards.
      • There is conflicting information on the basis of accounting.
    • The reviewer auditor has also again deviated materially from the requirements of his profession.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • 44% of the expenditure went on the one full-time employee (Annual Information Statement (AIS)2017).
    • Due to the resignation of the pastor [Annual Report, ACNC Register], this percentage is now only 22%.
  • The next highest expenditure was ‘Missions’ plus ‘Love Offering’, 28%.
    • 59% in 2018.
    • Much more than this could have been given – NBC again has a substantial sum in the bank ($149K) ($145K).
      • No explanation is given for holding such a large sum.
  • The only other figure greater than $5K was ‘Music Ministry’, $17K (11%).
    • This seems a disproportionately large amount.
    • It dropped to $2K this year.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • The auditor, Doug Burgess, Chartered Accountant, of BLM Accounting Services, concluded that
    • Based on our review, which is not an audit, nothing has come to our attention that causes us to believe that the annual financial report…does not present fairly, in all material respects, the Church’s financial position as at 30th June 2017 and of its financial performance for the year ended on that date in accordance with the Australian Accounting Standards as noted in note 1 (sic).
      • There is no ‘note 1’.
      • If not an audit why this stamp on the financial statements?

http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/word-image-14.png

      • This year NBC upgraded to an audit (from a review).
      • By the same auditor.
      • He did not use his stamp this year.
      • Under ‘Scope of Review’ he says that ‘With the exception of trade creditors the statements have been prepared on a cash bais (sic)’. This basis is not one that is recognised by the Standard-setters, and there is therefore no way that the statements ‘present fairly’ as he claims.
    • This review falls so far short of the accounting profession’s requirements for a review that it is difficult to have any confidence in his opinion.
      • His audit report uses an old format, and therefore his report on NBC continues to fall well short of the accounting profession’s requirements.

If a (registered) charity, is their page on the ACNC Register complete / correct?

  • No:
    • A PO Box number is not a ‘street address’.
    • The constitution contains neither of the two clauses necessary to make NBC a not-for-profit.
    • ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’ are missing (but the ACNC says that neither are compulsory.
  • Now the only thing is that ‘Next report due’ is incorrect.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Per the website:

http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/word-image-15.png

To whom is NBC accountable?

  • As a charity, to the ACNC.
  • And to the ACT regulator of incorporated associations.

 

 

  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.
  1. The logo here is different to the one on the website.

 

Missions Interlink: charity review

Missions Interlink’ is a Christ-centred organisation, “the Australian network for global mission”. Although it calls for donations (see below), it is of more interest because it has a regulatory regime for its (Christ-centred) members. This is required because it offers its Members income tax exemption when they would not otherwise be eligible:

These Members, along with the lower-level members (called associates), have to accept a set of standards[1], so we would expect no less of the organisation itself. The introduction to the standards includes this statement:

http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-20.png

I sent a draft of this review to the charity. They did not respond.

There are only 12 members, six of whom are the directors [Board of Management Report, Financial Report 2018]. So there’s little accountability here.

Donations

Missions Interlink invites[2] its members, at the time of paying their annual membership fees, to donate to cover the 50% of its expenses that are not covered by those fees:

$108K was received in 2018 [Financial Report 2018].

The charities’ regulator, the ACNC, in their article, Donating to Legitimate Charities, gives “some things to consider to help you make sure your donation is going where it is intended”:

  1. Check the charity’s name.
  2. Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
  3. Be careful of online requests for donations.
  4. No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here’s the results for ‘Missions Interlink’[3] (MI), with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[4].

1.  A search on the name ‘Missions Interlink’ on the ACNC Register of charities leads to four charities:

The only one that is still registered, Australian Evangelical Alliance Incorporated, comes up because ‘Missions Interlink’ is recorded under ‘Also known as’ on the Register. MI has registered ‘Missions Interlink’ as a business name (twice). And a number of other business names[5].

2. There is nothing to indicate that MI use professional collectors.

3. The “web address begins with ‘https’” and there is a “closed padlock symbol next to the web address in the address bar”, so the website is secure [the first ACNC article above]. There is a ‘Powered by Stripe’ logo at the bottom of the page on which you enter your information, but the logo is not linked to any information.

4. The Australian Business Register (linked from MI’s ACNC Register record), says that the charity is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts[6]. MI is, however, a ‘legitimate’ charity.

5. Objectives/Mission

Neither ‘mission’ nor ‘objectives’ are mentioned on the website. In the Board of Management Report, in the Financial Report 2018, the ‘object’ of MI is given under ‘Principal Activities’[7]:

[8]

Activities[9]

From the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2018[10]:

AEA MI have linked, equipped, served and represented organisations and churches across Australia to help them to engage more effectively in cross-cultural and global mission.

For more detail, see the Missions Interlink Annual Report 2018[11].

In March 2018, this was what was expected of the incoming National Director:

Although it is not made explicit in the ACNC material, the National Director ‘Opportunity Profile’ (created March 2018), shows that the focus of these activities is the MI members:

How this translated into dollars spent

The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report 2018 on the ACNC Register[12]. As one of the 145 members, can you ring MI’s office and request that they prepare financial statements that answer the question or questions you have about the charity? (The same question applies if you are one of the 407 staff [AIS 2018] and you are interested in checking out the organisation for whom you are working). I don’t think so. But the directors[13], with the agreement of the auditor (Matthew Hung, CA, rdl.accountants), say that you can:

So, the financial statements have not been drawn up to suit you.  Why, then, would you rely on them?

Even in the absence of this problem, there is a major question mark about the financial statements. 46% of the revenue, $512K, comes from a single item ‘’Other income – contributions from state branches on consolidation’. But there is no explanation of this item. The state branches still exist, and the accounts are for an individual entity, not a consolidated entity:

To add to the confusion, Note 14 shows that MI paid for the audit or one or more ‘subsidiaries’[14].

If you are happy to still consider donating (or volunteering), here’s what the financial statements say about where the donations went last year:

No further information is given about any of these items.

The average employee receives $66K in benefits [AIS 2018].

Outcomes/impact

No information found.

 

For more a more in-depth review, please contact me.

 

 

 

  1. MI considerthe implementation of Member Accreditation for compliance with standards’ as one of their achievements over the last 10 years. Other than getting the member to sign that they have adhered to the standards, there is no evidence of any compliance activity.
  2. Put this in your browser: site:missionsinterlink.org.au associate fees.
  3. See here for the previous review.
  4. Focus on the nature of the charity’s work, its beneficiaries and the impact the charity is having in the community.Is it clear what the charity is trying to achieve and how its activities work towards its objectives?Would you like to spend your money, or time if volunteering, to support these objectives?Is the charity being transparent about its activities? [A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering].
  5. Not only does it have other business names, but it has them spread across four entries in ASIC’s register:The third one is the one that holds the ‘Missions Interlink’ business name:

    The names in the other three entries are ‘Prime Timers’, ‘Christian Tucker – Just Tucker’, and ‘Christian Tucker – Just Tucker’ again.

  6. The section ‘Business name(s)’ is missing at least two names. As is the AIS 2018.
  7. This is substantially the same as clause 2 of MI’s Rules (its governing document).
  8. MI is not auspiced by AEA. It is AEA. There is no separate organisation Missions Interlink. It is a business name held by AEA.
  9. Although MI says, on the ACNC Register, that it operates in all states except the ACT.
  10. Lodged nearly three months later than the AIS was lodged last year.
  11. This was not lodged on the ACNC Register.
  12. The AIS shows that this was not lodged with the state regulator. This is because the law changed recently.
  13. All the directors are either a director or a senior executive of Christian charities that I have reviewed:Glenda de Jager: Secretary of the Board and National Director,Mukti AustraliaJohan Linder: Executive Director, OMF International

    Judith Kay: Church and Community Coordinator, Interserve Australia

    Omar Djoeandy: (ex-?) National Director, SIM

    Richard Dickens: Board Chairman, EA Foundation

    Sandra Punithan: Head of Finance, Pioneers of Australia

  14. With ‘Audit services – rdl.accountants including ‘preparation of the financial statements’ as well as ‘audit of the financial statements’, you could legitimately ask MI how their auditor maintained their all-important independence.

 

Compassion Australia: charity review

This is review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink’, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission’[1].

‘Compassion Australia’  is one such Member, and an organisation that seeks donations online.

Both Members and Associates have to accept a set of standards, the introduction to which includes this statement:

http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-20.png

This Member did not respond to a draft of this review.

The charities’ regulator, the ACNC, in their article, Donating to Legitimate Charities, gives “some things to consider to help you make sure your donation is going where it is intended”:

  1. Check the charity’s name.
  2. Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
  3. Be careful of online requests for donations.
  4. No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here’s the results for ‘Compassion Australia’[2], with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[3].

1.  A search on the ACNC Register of charities gives a charity in that name (Compassion)[4].

2. Does Compassion use street collectors? I couldn’t find the answer to this on their website, nor in their Annual Report[5] (available on the ACNC Register). The method is not included in the (non-exhaustive) list of methods of promoting child sponsorship in Note 14 [Financial Report 2018].

3. The “web address begins with ‘https’ and there is a closed padlock symbol next to the web address in the address bar”, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above].

But on the giving page there is no mention of the security of your information.

4. The Australian Business Register (linked from Compassion’s ACNC Register record), says that the charity is entitled to receive tax deductible gifts. So is its fund ‘The Compassion Overseas Aid and Development Fund’ (the Fund).

For some reason only the Fund is mentioned in the FAQ ‘Are my donations to Compassion tax deductible?’:

Compassion explains the lack of tax deductibility in another FAQ (and adds a program not mentioned above):

I would have thought it difficult though to avoid ‘the promotion of a particular religious cause’ while the teaching of the children was ‘Christian teaching’ done by a local Christian church:

It appears though that Christian teaching can be done without sharing the Gospel:

Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that they do not require the children to become Christians:

5. The use of your donations

Here’s why Compassion thinks that you are safe in trusting them with your donation:

  • Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA):
    • Compassion membership confirmed.
    • The accountability is principally over dealing with you as a donor. You can access the Code with which Compassion must comply from the link in the middle of this page.
    • A Code Authority ‘Is responsible for the effective operation and administration of the Code including monitoring, complaints handling and appeals’ [Administration of the Code, Guidelines]. However, there is no further mention of monitoring in the Guidelines.
  • Missions Interlink:
    • No, the FIA does not require membership of Missions Interlink.
    • Here are the standards.
    • My experience from doing hundreds of reviews says that the members have little to fear from any monitoring of compliance with these standards.
      • And see this review.
  • Bentleys Brisbane (Audit) Pty Ltd: It is not correct to say that this firm, or any other firm, audits Compassion. They audit Compassion’s annual financial statements, something far less than Compassion’s entire operations, and even this is subject to clear limitations (see, here and here).
  • Internal audit: This is Compassion checking on itself. Does Compassion have the strongest version of this internal control, including the internal auditor reporting to the board?
  • Compassion says that it cannot be a member of the organisation representing aid and development organisations, an organisation that has an accountability regime:

    • Compassion doesn’t explain why operating through a church stops them from being a member. I can see nothing in the AICD material that automatically makes Compassion ineligible for membership.
  • It says it must comply with AusAid’s guidelines for overseas aid organisation. However, it is not an Australian accredited NGO, so is not subject to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s accountability.
  • For a public company like Compassion, the members, if sufficient in number, and independent of management, can be a source of accountability on the board (and therefore management). But Compassion has only seven members, and since the Constitution (see the ACNC Register) requires directors to be members, it is likely that, with seven directors, there are no members outside of board members. So, no accountability there.

Activities

From the Directors’ Report (in the Financial Report 2018):

They do this, almost completely (see below), through child sponsorship:

This is the ‘unique approach’:

And here is what is done with the child:

Despite the evidence for cash transfers to the poor, for instance, here, Compassion rarely uses them, and doesn’t explain why:

There’s more than one way of achieving the change that Compassion is trying to achieve. If you want to understand the choice, you could start with this article.

Compassion is only tangentially involved in community development:

Giving options

  • 13 of them. For only two of them is tax deductibility mentioned: ‘yes’ for the ‘Christmas Gift Fund’ and ‘no’ for the ‘Bible Fund’.
  • The giving page does not mention whether your money goes to Compassion generally or to the Fund. But elsewhere we are told that all donations go to the Fund:

What about the non-tax-deductible programs?

The Fund is not mentioned in the Financial Report.

Donations received

This is disclosed as a single line in a Note: ‘Sponsorships and donations 84,237,330’. So, no distinction between tax-deductible and on tax-deductible money, nor reporting to match your giving options (see above).

Cash spent

The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report 2018 on the ACNC Register.

This is the only information about where the cash went on operating activities:

[6]

Resources consumed (i.e. accrual)

The accrual section of the Report is more helpful (although not very helpful):

None of these terms are defined in the Report[7].

Notes 3 and 4 give us ‘Employee benefits expense; (13.6% of expenses), interest expense (negligible), ‘Depreciation and amortization expense’ (1.5%), and ‘Audit services’ ($30K).

But there is no further information on the expenses in the extract above.

Compassion claims that ‘approximately 80 per cent [of funds raised] is used for the direct benefit of children in our programs’:

[8]

But notice that their definition of ‘direct’ is wider than we might normally think it to be: it includes ‘Advocacy expenses’ (most likely the ‘For community education in Australia’ on page 9 of the Annual Report), and ‘Program support expenses’. These two add to 11% of the expenses.

‘Funds movement’

Compassion includes further information about inflows and outflows in the Notes to the accounts:

There is no explanation anywhere of

  • The relationship between these fourteen funds or programs and the 13 giving options.
    • There are some new terms that are unexplained.
  • The meaning of ‘funds’. How does it relate to ‘expenses’ and cash payments?
  • Why a ‘Funds movement schedule’ is included.
  • How the individual expenses relate to the expenses from the accrual statement (above).

Destination of the ‘funds’, operating cash outflow or ‘Program expenses’

There is no disclosure of the geographical destination of your funds.

How they ensured that the money was used for the purpose for which you gave it

Other than indirectly via the description of internal audit function (see above), there is no information.

Impact

Compassion use a research result[9] published six years to support the efficacy of their method of child development:

Nothing more recent or done by Compassion itself found.

 

Please contact me if you need a more in-depth review.

 

 

 

  1. https://missionsinterlink.org.au/about/
  2. See here for my last review.
  3. Focus on the nature of the charity’s work, its beneficiaries and the impact the charity is having in the community.Is it clear what the charity is trying to achieve and how its activities work towards its objectives?Would you like to spend your money, or time if volunteering, to support these objectives?Is the charity being transparent about its activities? [A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering].
  4. It has two business names: Compassion Child Sponsorship and Partners of Compassion [www.asic.gov.au]. Although it is permitted to omit ‘Limited/Ltd’ at the end of its name, it has no licence to trade under other than Compassion Australia. The website seems to contravene this.
  5. Care: both the Annual Report and the Financial Report 2018 are labelled ‘Annual report’.
  6. Although this level of disclosure may be compliant with the letter of the applicable Accounting Standard ( AASB 107), it is not consistent with either the intent of the Standard and paragraphs 14 and 19, or what is reasonable to expect from a major Christ-led charity that is reporting a true and fair view.
  7. The Annual Report has definitions for two of them:
  8. Notice that this is not an answer to the question.
  9. The FAQ mentions only the journal and the year, so here’s the citation: Bruce Wydick, Paul Glewwe, and Laine Rutledge, “Does International Child Sponsorship Work? A Six-Country Study of Impacts on Adult Life Outcomes,” Journal of Political Economy 121, no. 2 (April 2013): 393-436.)
    https://doi.org/10.1086/670138

 

One Mission Society Australia Inc: charity review

This is a review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink’, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission[1].

One Mission Society Australia Inc‘ is one such Member, and an organisation that seeks donations online.

Both Members and Associates have to accept a set of standards, the introduction to which includes this statement:

http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-20.png

This Member did not respond to a draft of this review.

The charities’ regulator, the ACNC, in their article, Donating to Legitimate Charities, gives “some things to consider to help you make sure your donation is going where it is intended”:

  1. Check the charity’s name.
  2. Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
  3. Be careful of online requests for donations.
  4. No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here’s the results for ‘One Mission Society Australia Inc’[2], with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[3].

1.  A search on the ACNC Register of charities gives a charity with that name (OMS).

2. Does OMS use street collectors? There is no mention of them on the website.

3. The “web address begins with ‘https’ and there is a closed padlock symbol next to the web address in the address bar”, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above].

On the giving page there is no mention of the security of your information.

4. The Australian Business Register (linked from OMS’s ACNC Register record), says that the charity is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts. But it is a ‘legitimate’ charity’.

5. The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report 2017 on the ACNC Register. Do you provide or give things to, receive things from, or have oversight of, or review, of OMS[4][vii]? Perhaps you intend to donate or are one of the people who gave $401K [Financial Report 2017]. If so, can you ring OMS’s office and request that they prepare financial statements that answer the question or questions you have about the charity? Highly unlikely. Yet the directors, with the agreement of the auditor[5], say you can:

So, the financial statements have not been drawn up to suit you. Why, then, would you rely on them?

Impact

The question of the impact of your donations is not addressed anywhere. (There is no Annual Report.)

 

Please contact me if you need a more in-depth review.

 

 

 

  1. https://missionsinterlink.org.au/about/http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-21.png
  2. See here for my last review.
  3. Focus on the nature of the charity’s work, its beneficiaries and the impact the charity is having in the community.Is it clear what the charity is trying to achieve and how its activities work towards its objectives?Would you like to spend your money, or time if volunteering, to support these objectives?

    Is the charity being transparent about its activities? [A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering].

  4. [vii] From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au: http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/word-image-15.png  
  5. Joel Hernandez of rdl.accountants.

 

Church Missionary Society – Australia Limited: charity review

This is review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink’, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission[1].

Church Missionary Society – Australia’ is one such Member, and an organisation that seeks donations online.

Both Members and Associates have to accept a set of standards, the introduction to which includes this statement:

http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-20.png

This Member did not respond to a draft of this review.

The charities’ regulator, the ACNC, in their article, Donating to Legitimate Charities, gives “some things to consider to help you make sure your donation is going where it is intended”:

  1. Check the charity’s name.
  2. Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
  3. Be careful of online requests for donations.
  4. No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here’s the results for ‘Church Missionary Society – Australia’[2], with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[3].

1. A search on the ACNC Register of charities gives a charity, in a slightly different name, Church Missionary Society – Australia Limited (CMS-A).

2. NA

3. The “web address begins with ‘https’ and there is a closed padlock symbol next to the web address in the address bar”, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above].

On the giving page there is no mention of the security of your information.

The fact that CMS-A is soliciting donations does not fit with the fact that its branches who raise the money, not CMS-A:

4. The Australian Business Register (linked from CMS-A’s ACNC Register record), says that the charity is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts. But two funds that it runs are:

5. The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report 2018 on the ACNC Register. Do you provide or give things to, receive things from, or have oversight of, or review, of CMS-A[4][vii]? Perhaps you intend to donate or are one of the people who gave $7.69 million via your state Branch or $2.60 million in tax-deductible donations last year [Financial Report 2018]. Or one of CMS-A’s 202 missionaries? [Financial Report 2018]. If so, can you ring CMS-A’s office and request that they prepare financial statements that answer the question or questions you have about the charity? I very much doubt it. You are therefore ‘potentially interested in the information provided in general purpose reports[5].

You are therefore in the wrong place – I only have access to the published accounts of CMS-A, and the directors, with the agreement of the auditor[6], in preparing special purpose statements, say that you don’t exist:

So, the financial statements have not been drawn up to suit you. Why, then, would you rely on them?

Impact

The question of the impact of your donations is not addressed anywhere. (There is no Annual Report.)

 

Please contact me if you need a more in-depth review.

 

 

  1. https://missionsinterlink.org.au/about/http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-21.png
  2. See here for my last review.
  3. Focus on the nature of the charity’s work, its beneficiaries and the impact the charity is having in the community.Is it clear what the charity is trying to achieve and how its activities work towards its objectives?Would you like to spend your money, or time if volunteering, to support these objectives?

    Is the charity being transparent about its activities? [A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering].

  4. [vii] From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au: http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/word-image-15.png  
  5. From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au
  6. Stephen Fisher of Nexia Sydney Audit & Assurance.

 

Church Missionary Society NSW & ACT Limited: charity review

This is review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink’, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission[1].

Church Missionary Society (NSW/ACT)’ is one such Member, and an organisation that seeks donations online.

Both Members and Associates have to accept a set of standards, the introduction to which includes this statement:

http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-20.png

This Member did not respond to a draft of this review.

The charities’ regulator, the ACNC, in their article, Donating to Legitimate Charities, gives “some things to consider to help you make sure your donation is going where it is intended”:

  1. Check the charity’s name.
  2. Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
  3. Be careful of online requests for donations.
  4. No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here’s the results for ‘Church Missionary Society (NSW/ACT)[2], with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[3].

1.  A search on the ACNC Register of charities gives a charity, in a slightly different name, Church Missionary Society NSW & ACT Limited (CMSN&A).

2.  NA

3.  The “web address begins with ‘https’ and there is a closed padlock symbol next to the web address in the address bar”, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above].

On the giving page there is no mention of the security of your information.

4.  The Australian Business Register (linked from CMSN&A’s ACNC Register record), says that the charity is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts. We have seen above, however, that CMSN&A is a ‘legitimate charity’.

This Register information does not match the information on the giving page:

This is because you are giving to another charity, Church Missionary Society – Australia Ltd No explanation is given for this.

5.  The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report 2018 on the ACNC Register. Within that there are two statements that this information. But you should first turn to the Notes to the accounts (Notes to the Financial Statements in this case) to check out the ‘Basis of preparation’.

Do you provide or give things to, receive things from, or have oversight of, or review, of CMSN&A[4]? Perhaps you intend to donate or are one of the 6,275 donors who gave $7.93 million last year [Financial Report 2018]. If so, can you ring CMSN&A’s office and request that they prepare financial statements that answer the question or questions you have about the charity? I very much doubt it. You are therefore ‘potentially interested in the information provided in general purpose reports[5].

You are therefore in the wrong place – I only have access to the published accounts of CMSN&A, and the directors, with the agreement of the auditor[6], in preparing special purpose statements, have said that you don’t exist.

So, the financial statements have not been drawn up to suit you.

Impact

The question of the impact of your donations is not once mentioned in (54-page) Annual Report.

 

Please contact me if you need a more in-depth review.

 

 

  1. https://missionsinterlink.org.au/about/http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-21.png
  2. See here for my last review.
  3. Focus on the nature of the charity’s work, its beneficiaries and the impact the charity is having in the community.Is it clear what the charity is trying to achieve and how its activities work towards its objectives?Would you like to spend your money, or time if volunteering, to support these objectives?Is the charity being transparent about its activities? [A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering].
  4.  From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au: http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/word-image-15.png  
  5. From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au
  6. Peter Vilimaa of Manser Tierney&Johnson.

 

Church Missionary Society Victoria Inc: charity review

This is review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink’, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission[1].

Church Missionary Society (VIC) is one such Member, and an organisation that seeks donations online.

Both Members and Associates have to accept a set of standards, the introduction to which includes this statement:

http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-20.png

This Member did not respond to a draft of this review.

The charities’ regulator, the ACNC, in their article, Donating to Legitimate Charities, gives “some things to consider to help you make sure your donation is going where it is intended”:

  1. Check the charity’s name.
  2. Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
  3. Be careful of online requests for donations.
  4. No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here’s the results for ‘Church Missionary Society (VIC)’[2], with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[3].

1.  A search on the ACNC Register of charities gives a charity, in a slightly different name, Church Missionary Society Victoria Inc (CMSV).

2. NA

3. The “web address begins with ‘https’ and there is a closed padlock symbol next to the web address in the address bar”, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above].

On the giving page there is no mention of the security of your information.

4. The Australian Business Register (linked from CMSV’s ACNC Register record), says that the charity is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts. We have seen above, however, that CMSV is a ‘legitimate charity’.

This Register information does not match the information on the giving page:

This is because you are giving to another charity, Church Missionary Society – Australia Ltd. No explanation is given for this.

5. The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report 2018 on the ACNC Register. Within that there are two statements that this information. But you should first turn to the Notes to the accounts (Notes to the Financial Statements in this case) to check out the ‘Basis of preparation’.

Do you provide or give things to, receive things from, or have oversight of, or review, of CMSV[4][vii]? Perhaps you intend to donate or are one of the donors who gave $1.54 million last year [Financial Report 2018]. If so, can you ring CMSV’s office and request that they prepare financial statements that answer the question or questions you have about the charity? I very much doubt it. You are therefore ‘potentially interested in the information provided in general purpose reports[5].

You are therefore in the wrong place – I only have access to the published accounts of CMSV, and the directors, with the agreement of the auditor[6], in preparing special purpose statements, have implicitly said that you don’t exist:

So, the financial statements have not been drawn up to suit you.

Impact

The question of the impact of your donations is not addressed anywhere.

 

Please contact me if you need a more in-depth review.

 

 

  1. https://missionsinterlink.org.au/about/http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-21.png
  2. See here for my last review.
  3. Focus on the nature of the charity’s work, its beneficiaries and the impact the charity is having in the community.Is it clear what the charity is trying to achieve and how its activities work towards its objectives?Would you like to spend your money, or time if volunteering, to support these objectives?

    Is the charity being transparent about its activities? [A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering].

  4. [vii] From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au: http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/word-image-15.png  
  5. From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au
  6. Jeffrey Tulk of Saward Dawson. I think both client and auditor are wrong in allowing the name of the auditor firm to appear prominently on the cover of the association’s accounts.

 

Gospel for Asia (Australia) Inc.: charity review

This is review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink’, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission[1].

‘Gospel for Asia Australia Inc’ is one such Member, and an organisation that allows donations online.

Both Members and Associates have to accept a set of standards, the introduction to which includes this statement:

http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-20.png

This Member did not respond to a draft of this review.

The charities’ regulator, the ACNC, in their article, Donating to Legitimate Charities, gives “some things to consider to help you make sure your donation is going where it is intended”:

  1. Check the charity’s name.
  2. Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
  3. Be careful of online requests for donations.
  4. No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here’s the results for ‘Gospel for Asia Inc’[2], with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[3].

1. A search on the ACNC Register of charities gives a charity, with the addition of brackets around ‘Australia’, in that name (GFAA).

2. NA

3. The “web address begins with ‘https’ and there is a closed padlock symbol next to the web address in the address bar”, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above].

Other than the phrase ‘Secure Checkout’, there is no mention, on the first page of the giving process, of the security of your information.

4. The Australian Business Register (linked from GFAA’s ACNC Register record), says that the charity is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts. We have seen above, however, that GFAA is a ‘legitimate charity’.

5. Activities

There is no information on what GFAA does on the ‘Australia office page’ of the website.

In their AIS 2018 this is what they say they do:

However, this is not what GFAA does; it merely raises money for one or more organisations that do these things overseas.

Donations sought by GFAA

They seek money in the following groups:

‘Tools for Missionaries’

‘Major Ministries’

‘Empower the Poor’

‘From the Stable’

‘Compassion Services’

‘Women’

‘Where Most Needed’

‘Home Team’

‘Manage Existing Sponsorship’

‘Christmas Catalogue’

Only two of these match lines in the disclosure of the year’s revenue[4].

Donations received by GFAA (i.e. in Australia)

The audited account of donations in and out is the Financial Report 2018 on the ACNC Register. Within that there are two statements that give the required information. But you should first turn to the Notes to the accounts (Notes to the Financial Statements in this case) to check out the ‘Basis of preparation’.

Do you provide or give things to, receive things from, or have oversight of, or review, of GFAA[5][vii]? Perhaps you intend to donate or are one of the donors who gave $2.00 million last year [Financial Report 2018]. If so, can you ring GFAA’s office and request that they prepare financial statements that answer the question or questions you have about the charity? I doubt it. You are therefore ‘potentially interested in the information provided in general purpose reports[6].

You are therefore in the wrong place – I only have access to the published accounts of GFAA, and the directors[7], with the agreement of the auditor[8], in preparing special purpose statements, have effectively declared that you don’t exist.

If GFAA is still in the running for your donation (or business), here’s how they used the revenue they earned.

Donations used by GFAA (in Australia)

  • GFAA claim that “100% of donations preferenced for use on the field is sent to the field.

  • The only donation category that does not appear to be for ‘the field’ is ‘Home Team’. The amount given for this is not enough to cover the 13% of expenses appears to be non-field expenses, so the claim is not supported by the figures.
  • 87% of the expenses went to ‘Donations expense’.
  • This is the breakup for that expense:

  • There is no information on the relationship between these expenses and the ten giving options (above). Nor with the revenue items.
    • But from the additional information in the ‘100% Policy’ statement (above), there is no guarantee anyway that your choice is honoured.

Where overseas?

  • This footnote to Note 3 is the only disclosure about the destination of this money:

  • Believers Eastern Church may be a registered NGO but without a FCRA licence, it cannot legally receive money from overseas. And it lost this licence in 2017. So where has the money gone?
  • There has been no organisation named GFA India since at least October 2016. Sometime before that date it changed its name to Ayana Charitable Trust.
  • Neither GFA India or Ayana Charitable Trust are FCRA registered organisations.
    • What is the relevance of the auditing of GFA India when it is not the one receiving the money?
  • No donations were declared to the Indian Government by any of the three organisations in 2016-17 or 2017-18. So where have the donations gone?

The situation above has only got more unsatisfactory for potential donors since my last review. See the posts by Warren Throckmorton.

There is no systematic information on the impact of the charity’s activities – the change created in the people they help.

 

Please contact me if you need a more in-depth review.

 

 

 

  1. https://missionsinterlink.org.au/about/http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-21.png
  2. See here for my last review.
  3. Focus on the nature of the charity’s work, its beneficiaries and the impact the charity is having in the community.Is it clear what the charity is trying to achieve and how its activities work towards its objectives?Would you like to spend your money, or time if volunteering, to support these objectives?Is the charity being transparent about its activities? [A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering].
  4. [vii] From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au: http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/word-image-15.png  
  5. From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au
  6. GFAA is still at least one short of the required number in its constitution. And still has a board composition that is highly questionable (and therefore arguably in contravention of the Mission Interlink Standards)
  7. Jim Rawlings CPA, of Hooper Accountants. Without the discretion exercised by the ACNC Commissioner, Jim, because he is not a registered company auditor, would not be qualified under the ACNC Act to do this audit.