This is a charity review of ACC International Missions Ltd (ACCIM), an organisation that seeks donations online and is a member of Missions Interlink.
The Australian charities regulator, the ACNC, in their Factsheet: Making sure your donation gets to where it needs to, gives “some steps to consider to help make sure your donation is going where it is intended.”
- Check the organisation’s name.
- Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
- Be careful of online requests for donations.
- No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
- Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.
Here are the answers for ACCIM:
1. The website is one badged ACCI Missions & Relief. There’s no registered charity in this name. Reading further down the home page, we see the name ACC International Missions Ltd. There is one in this name.
3. ACCIM’s “web address begins with ‘https’ and…there is a closed padlock symbol next to the website’s URL in the address bar”. A secure way to give to ACCIM.
4. The ABN record for ACCIM says that no tax deduction is possible, but from 1. above we know that it is a ‘legitimate charity’. (The fact that the website is shared with another charity, ACC International Relief Inc., and they have a combined donation page, explains why there are tax-deductible giving options on the website.)
5. The Financial Report 2017 shows that 75% of its expenses – $2.24 million – go to a single item, ‘Disbursements to missionaries and projects’. There is no explanation of this item. No breakup. No destinations. Just like last year. End of review.
If you think that’s a bit tough and want to see how they fared with the other questions you should ask, read on.
Are they responsive to feedback?
- This is the only mention of ‘accountability’ of the website.
- I sent them a draft of this review. Like the last two years, they…did not respond.
Is ACCIM registered?
- As a charity, yes.
- As a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
- It uses the name ACCI Missions. Whereas it has the necessary provisions in its constitution to allow it to omit ‘Limited/Ltd’ on the end of its name, it does not have the registration, a business name, to allow it to trade under the name ACCI Missions.
- It holds two business names, ACCI Missions & Relief, and Australian Christian Churches World Missions.
- ACCIM operates in all six states that have a fundraising regime for charities and seeks donations online. They do not explain why they hold no fundraising licences.
What do they do?
- ACCI Missions is the missionary sending and support agency of the Australian Christian Churches movemen.t
- This is on an ‘About’ page on ACCIM’s website that starts by describing the work of the unregistered charity ‘ACCI’. Further down it identifies ACCI as being composed of ACCIM and another charity, Acc International Relief Inc. (Relief).
- Per the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2017:
- The principal activities of ACC International Missions Ltd during the financial year were: • To recruit, enable, support and send field workers to Australia and foreign countries to establish self-governing, self supporting and self propagating (sic) churches and preach the Gospel in Australia and other nations around the world; • To provide pastoral support, direction, vision and strategy for field workers as they prepare for ministry and minister overseas; • To work in synergy with local congregations within the Australian Christian Churches movement and assist them to fulfil the Company’s vision; and • To otherwise fulfil and follow the missionary objects of the Australian Christian Churches.
Do they share the Gospel?
- Via their missionaries, yes.
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 ‘Disbursements to missionaries and projects’, then ‘administration’ is 25% of expenses (up from 22% last year). Making the cost object smaller will increase this percentage, e.g. by recognizing that there is overhead in the projects in the overseas country.
Do they pay their board members?
- This is not permitted by the ACCIM constitution.
- The expenses are not disclosed sufficiently to allow a check.
Can you get a tax deduction?
- But their website also collects for Relief, a separate charity. Donations to Relief are tax deductible.
Is their online giving secure?
- Security is still not mentioned.
Is their reporting up-to-date?
- Yes (five months after their year-end, approximately three weeks 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 six months ago.
Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?
- AIS 2017: No
- Two names (one business, one used without registration) are missing.
- The description of the international activities includes the work of Relief.
- ‘Employee expenses’ includes ‘other associated costs’.
- The states where it intends to fundraise have not been specified.
- The activities are not specific to 2017.
- No outcomes are given.
- Financial Report 2017: No
- 75% of its expenses – $2.24 million – go to a single item, ‘Disbursements to missionaries and projects’. There is no explanation of this item.
- It is hard to see that a report that makes no mention of (a) the organization the objects of which it is required to follow, Australian Christian Churches, and (b) the organization with which it shares a business name and a website, Relief, can be judged as showing a true and fair view.
What financial situation was shown by that Report?
- The surplus as a percentage of revenue has increased from negative 3% to positive 1%.
- Less than two and a quarter months of revenue is held in ‘Cash and cash equivalents’ plus ‘Financial assets’.
- Both short-term and long-term financial structure are, based on this Report, sound.
Where were your (net) donations sent?
- The Statement of Profit or Loss and Other Comprehensive Income just says ‘Disbursements to missionaries and projects’ $2.24 m.
What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?
- The auditor, Jeffrey Tulk, for Saward Dawson, gave a ‘clean’ opinion.
- Before you conclude on how much comfort to take from this
- re-read the ‘Financial Report 2017’ section above, and
- read here and here about audit opinions.
If a charity, is their information on the ACNC Register complete/correct?
- One business name, Australian Christian Churches World Missions, and the name their most use, ACCI Missions, is missing.
- ‘Who the Charity Benefits’ is blank.
- With the directors, which is correct, website or ACNC Register?
What choices do you have in how your donation is used?
- Many – via a visually confusing set of pages and tiles:
- Most of the first set offer giving:
- All of them in the second set offer giving:
Then there’s the third set:
Who are the people controlling the organisation?
- Again, this year, the listing under ‘Our Board of Directors’ on the website has only one name in common with the list under ‘Responsible Persons’ on the ACNC Register (and even that one has a different spelling):
- Elisa Colak
- Alan Davies
- Matt Heins
- Danny Major
- Ben Teefy
- Catherine Thambiratnam
- This list is unchanged from last year.
- The board is accountable to the members. The number of members is not disclosed.
To whom are ACCIM accountable?
- As a charity, to the ACNC.
- Its ‘Charity Tick’ is used on the in the footer (on the website) in support of you giving to them. And rightly so, because it would be unwise to give to a charity that is unregistered. The ‘tick’ also means ACCIM’s AIS is not overdue, and the ACNC has not taken any compliance action against it.
- ACCIM claims that it ‘is an accredited member of Missions Interlink and operates in compliance with Missions Interlink Statements and Accreditation Standards.’ Membership confirmed.
- For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.
- ACCIM is also accountable for some things, as a company, to ASIC.
- I agree with Randy Alcorn [Money, Possessions, & Eternity, Tyndale, 2003] when he says that ‘Any Christian leaders who resist financial accountability make themselves suspect.’ [page 425]. ↑
- But as Acc International…(emphasis mine). ↑
- Not, as the ABN record still says, an ‘Other Incorporated Entity’. ↑
- The second is not shown on either the ABN record or the ACNC record. ↑
- The Tasmanian list is currently unavailable, but there was no registration when it was last checked. ↑
- ACCI is a business name held by the Australian Carpet Cleaning Institute Pty Ltd (www.asic.gov.au). ↑
- Relief also has its own website, www.accir.org.au, a website that does not include information about ACCIM. The combination of the two ‘Acc International’ organisations has been formalised in a business name for ACCIM, ACCI Missions & Relief. See, for instance the ‘Donate’ page on the ACCIM site. Confusing. ↑
- This is the same description as the last two years. ↑
- “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. ↑