New Heart Baptist Church: charity review

This is a charity review of New Heart Baptist Church (NH), a review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

For the previous review, see here.

Are they responsive to feedback? [1]

  • I sent them a draft of this review. They rang, I answered their questions, then I heard no more. (The previous two years I didn’t even get the call.)

Is NH registered?

  • As a charity, yes. But still incorrectly in the name Rochedale Baptist Church t/as New Heart Baptist Church.
    • The name should match that in the ABN register, Rochedale Baptist Church. The constitution is also in the wrong name.
    • They hold the name they use, New Heart Baptist Church, as a registered business name.
  • NH is an unincorporated entity.
  • It said in the AIS 2017 that it did not intend to fundraise. With the GiveNow option being more a facility for members rather than an invitation to the public, it is likely that a fundraising licence is not required.

What do they do?

  • See the main menu items on the website.

Does they share the Gospel?[2]

  • 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?

  • As they are not required to lodge any financial information, even in the AIS (see below), and they have chosen not to lodge this information voluntarily, nor publish anything on their website, we cannot make this calculation.

Do they pay their board members?

  • Such payments are not prohibited by the constitution.
  • There are no financial statements to check.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • Give Now is used. Security is not mentioned.

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

  • None

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (six months after year end, three days later, and two and a half months later than last year).

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2017: No
    • Their name is incorrect.
    • There are no outcomes.
  • Financial Report 2017: NA
    • Because they have a revenue of at least $250K their size is Medium. Ordinarily this would mean that they must lodge accounts (which have been at least reviewed). However, because they are a ‘basic religious charity’, they are exempt from reporting.
    • But their Associate membership of Missions Interlink requires them to “have available for [their] members and supporters a clear and appropriate financial statement which has been approved by its auditor.” So just ask.
    • They could have lodged this voluntarily, but they chose not to.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • NA

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • If there is an audit report, it is not made public (or even offered).

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

  • Yes
    • Despite their membership of Missions Interlink, and a page on the website (currently blank) for ‘Global Missions’, the Register says they don’t operate overseas.

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • There are no financial statements to check.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Here’s who they identify as the leaders.
  • The ‘Responsible Persons’ on the ACNC Register match the elders plus the Senior Pastor, but still with an extra person, Roger McKnight:

To whom is NH accountable?

  • As a charity, to the ACNC.
  • Claimed membership of Missions Interlink is confirmed. NH is accountable, as the recipient of benefits and concessions as an Associate member, to Missions Interlink.
    • For one opinion on the strength of that accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

 

 

  1. 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]
  2. Good living and social concern are important [to the cause of evangelism], but they are not uniquely Christian graces…I’ve met a lot of fine Hindus, Muslims and atheists. Just living the life is not going to bring someone to Christ. There is much more to it than that. We must help people, certainly, but we must also share with them why we are motivated to do so. We must stand against injustice, poverty and need, but we must at the same time point to the One who brings justice and who can meet the deepest need. Until they know our reasons, how can they come to know our Lord?” [Dan Armstrong, the Fifth Gospel: The Gospel According to You, Anzea Books, pp. 13-14.

 

Crossway: charity review

This is a review of the organisation that has a website in the name Crossway[1].

Crossway has an online invitation to give. It’s a church so it’s most likely a charity.

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.”

  1. Check the organisation’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 answers for Crossway:

  1. There is no charity under that name:

Roll to the bottom of the home page and you’ll see that the church is the third one in this list, Crossway Baptist Church Inc.

2.   NA

3.   Crossway’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 Crossway.

4.   ABN Lookup says that Crossway operates two funds, gifts to which ‘may be deductible’: Crossway CRE Fund and Crossway Baptist Church Fellowship Fund. Neither of these funds are mentioned on the website.

Others are though:

’Crossway Kingdom Fund’ is the registered charity The Trustee for Crossway Kingdom Fund, and ‘Cross way LifeCare’ is the registered charity Crossway Lifecare Limited.

5.   The audited account of how the donations are used is the Financial Report 2017 on the ACNC Register. Within that there are two statements that give information on how the donations were used. Most donors think in terms of cash, so if that’s you, you might turn first to the Statement of Cash Flows[2]. What you might now know though, is that you first should 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, one or more of the three Crossway charities? Perhaps you are one of the 6,864 people who, on average, attended church each week (perhaps also contributing to the average weekly tithe of $114K), or one of the suppliers, employees or beneficiaries who shared in $9.39 m of cash payments?[3] If so, can you ring Crossway’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’[4].

You are therefore in the wrong place – I only have access to the published accounts of Crossway, and the Committee members[5] of Crossway, under the ‘Basis of preparation’, say that you don’t exist[6]. End of review[7].

 

 

  1. For the previous review, see here.
  2. It would have been more helpful if the title had been preceded by ‘Consolidated’. For Crossway’s accounts are not just for itself but include the figures for the two charities that it controls, Crossway Lifecare Limited and Trustee for Crossway Kingdom Fund.
  3. Annual Report 2017, from the website.
  4. From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au:
  5. One of these board members is John Peberdy. John is a director of Christian Ministry Advancement Ltd, an organisation that believes that ‘Christian organisations should be the standard-setters in terms of impeccable corporate behaviour’. The mission of their committee, the CMA Standards Council, is to ‘help build faith and trust in Christian organisations’, including by allowing organisations who are compliant with a set of standards, formed by the Council, to display the Council’s seal of approval.
  6. I sent a draft of this review to Crossway. Like the previous two years, they…did not respond.

 

Gateway Baptist Church: charity review

This is a charity review of Gateway Baptist Church (Gateway), an organisation that seeks donations online, is a ‘Associated Organisation’ of Missions Interlink, and is accredited with the CMA Standards Council (a founding member).

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.”

  1. Check the organisation’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 Gateway:

1: A search of the Register of charities shows two charities with that exact name, and another with ‘Ltd’ at the end:

The one we are looking for, from its website, has Queensland phone numbers. So that leaves just one, in Mansfield. But the ABN at the bottom of each webpage belongs to Gateway Baptist Church Ltd in Mackenzie. It appears that Gateway is using the name without ‘Ltd’, something it is allowed to do under certain conditions.

The Register shows that both charities in postcode 4156 are controlled by the same people. That’s confusing – to which one does your donation go? Whose accounts should you review?

Unfortunately, the giving page makes no distinction between the two. End of review?

2. NA

3. Gateway’s web address does not begin with ‘https’, and there is no ‘closed padlock symbol next to the website’s URL in the address bar”. This is not a secure way to give to Gateway. End of review?

4. It is a legitimate charity (or two), even though its ABN record confirms that, as a church, it does not have deductible gift recipient status.

Why, then, do two of the six giving options offer, without explanation, a tax deduction? And with one of them to a charity with no obvious connection to Gateway, Bloom Asia Ltd? End of review?

  1. The accounts for the Gateway that is said to own the website, Gateway Baptist Church, are not consolidated accounts. That is, they do not include the figures for the other Gateway. The directors don’t say why. They also don’t say why they have changed from general purpose to special purpose financial statements. They are saying, in effect, that all Gateway’s stakeholders, both present and prospective, can get Gateway to prepare a financial report tailored to their needs. For a charity with revenue of $5.97 m, 50 employees, and 996 volunteers (AIS 2017), this is ludicrous.

And all this from an organisation held up as a standard-setter ‘in terms of impeccable corporate behaviour’, a leading light in transparency and accountability. End of review[1].

 

 

  1. I sent the website Gateway a draft of this review. Like the last two years, they…did not respond.

 

The Christian & Missionary Alliance of Australia Inc: charity review

This is a charity review of The Christian & Missionary Alliance of Australia Inc (CMAA), an organisation that seeks donations online and is a ‘Member Organisation’ of Missions Interlink[1]. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

The Australian charities regulator, the ACNC, in their Factsheet: Making sure your donation gets to where it needs to, says that the first thing you should do is to ‘Check the organisation’s name’ by searching for it on the ACNC Register.

Here’s the result:

This doesn’t look like the one we want.

As a check, the Register can be searched using an ABN. You would expect to find an organisation’s ABN on its website, but not so with CMAA. So, use ABN Lookup.

This shows that its search function is smarter than the ACNC’s – it equates ‘&’ with ‘and’, and we so gives us what is most likely the organisation we are looking for:

Using this ABN, we find that CMAA is indeed registered as a charity[2]:

It is at this point, based on experience, that I search for other charities that might be connected with the charity being reviewed.

The ACNC Register shows that the following people – ‘responsible persons’ -are on the board of CMAA:

  • Wing Chen
  • Chanh Doan
  • Kenneth Graham
  • Aman Gupta
  • Russell Holmes
  • Peter Laughlin
  • Philip Ticehurst
  • Philip Wong
  • Wan Yeung

By searching the ACNC Register by responsible person, we see what other charities these people are also governing:

  • The Trustee For Cama Services Overseas Aid Fund: all seven board members are also on the CMAA board.
  • North East Alliance Church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance of Australia: two of the three board members are also on the CMAA board.

Then we can search for other charities with ‘Christian and Missionary Alliance’ in their name:

This shows two others at the Deakin address of CMAA:

  • The Christian And Missionary Alliance Development Fund: Its governing document [ACNC Register] provides that members are nominated by the CMAA board, and board members must be members of CMAA. Its chair is currently the chair of CMAA.
  • The Christian And Missionary Alliance of Australasia Property Trust: The membership of the Trust is coextensive with that of CMAA.

So, we have found at least four charities that are controlled by CMAA[3]. But not a single mention of any of them in the financial report that CMAA has lodged with the ACNC. End of review.

 

 

  1. Missions Interlink is an organisation that, among other things, gives members income tax exemption even though they do not meet the “in Australia” test and do not have deductible gift recipient status.
  2. Which is correct, the organisation with ‘&’, or the ABN record and the ACNC? A search with ASIC shows that CMAA is an ACT (incorporated) association:

    The list of incorporated associations is kept by Access Canberra. It shows that it is that CMAA that is using its name incorrectly:

    Time for a name change CMAA.

  3. From my review last year, I know that there is another one: The Alliance College of Australia. This is ‘A ministry of the (CMAA), with a ‘Governing Committee’ appointed by CMAA [Governing document, ACNC Register).

 

The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory: charity review

This is a review of The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory, one of the ‘Member Organisations’ of Missions Interlink, and an organisation that seeks your donation online.

The Australian charities regulator, the ACNC, in their Factsheet: Making sure your donation gets to where it needs to, says that the first thing you should do is to ‘Check the organisation’s name’ by searching for it on the ACNC Register.

Here’s the result:

This shows that the organisation asking for your donation is actually two organisations, two separate charities, run from the same place.

The website linked from the Missions Interlink membership list is labelled, in the top left-hand corner, in small writing (this snip is less than half the width of the website):

So, one website for the two charities.

This might be OK if there was separate information on the activities of each charity on the website. But the ‘About Us’ section mentions neither ‘General work’ nor ‘Social work’.

So, what’s the difference?

A Google search of the entire site, site:salvos.org ‘general work’, gives only 12 references. Most of those are the same, an explanation in the Annual Report. Here it is from the latest one:

Churches do ‘social work’, so what’s the distinction being made here? In the absence of an explanation on the website the information on the ACNC Register should answer that question.

The two charities

There is nothing on the Register that tells us what The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory General Work does. The Financial Report should give us the answer in figures, but they say that they are a ‘Small’ charity so don’t have to report. ‘Small’? The Salvos’ ‘church work’ throughout New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Queensland has revenue less than $250K?

A section in the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2017 should give us a summary of the information in the accounts, but because ‘General Work’ says that it is a ‘Basic Religious Charity’, even that is blank.

The constitution (or similar) should give us what they were formed to do, but, in contravention of the ACNC’s requirements, it hasn’t been lodged.

2017’s ‘activities and outcomes’ should have been described in the AIS 2017, but there they have described the ‘Social Work’ charity:

So, no help from the Register entry for ‘General Work’. Turning to the entry for The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory Social Work, we see that the directors think that they too are a ‘Small’ charity. Implausible. And that the Register shows this charity also to be a ‘Basic Religious Charity’, an entry that is, because ‘Social Work’ is a ‘public benevolent institution’, clearly a mistake. The result of these classifications is that there is no financial information for donors.

With the two charities operating from the same address, and having the same ‘Charity Address for Service’, one would expect that either one controls the other or they are both controlled by another organisation. Additional evidence would be if they had the same ‘responsible persons’, but a comparison is not possible because ‘Social Work’ has, contrary to the ACNC’s requirements, left that section of the Register blank.

Conclusion

If you find where the Salvos are being accountable for the money you give on this site, please let me know. All I know at the moment is that it is not where you usually find it[1].

 

 

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

The Wesleyan Methodist Church in Australia: charity review

This is a charity review of The Wesleyan Methodist Church in Australia (WMC), an entity that seeks donations online, and, in the name Wesleyan World Missions (WWM), is a member of Missions Interlink. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

For the previous review, see here.

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • There is no invitation on the website to give feedback or make a complaint.
  • Their own accountability is not mentioned on the website.
  • I sent them a draft of this review. For the third year in a row, they…did not respond.

Is WWM registered?

  • No. WWM is one of the four ‘Departments’ (see under ‘Ministries’ here) of WMC.
  • WMC is registered as a charity.
    • They appear to be trading under the name Wesleyan World Missions (for instance, Facebook, Missions Interlink), but they still don’t have WWM registered as a business name.
  • WMC is an unincorporated body.
  • WMC appears to control at least three other organisations:

  • WMC operates, per the ACNC Register in all states except Tasmania.
  • And has an online invitation to give. But it still not licensed to fundraise anywhere. It may argue that it is exempt in Queensland because it is a ‘religious order’ (which, given that they are a representative and administrative body, is questionable), and in Victoria because they can marry people (which is questionable for the same reason). But the other states?

What do WMC do?

  • See ‘About’ and ‘Missions’ in the main menu.
  • WMC operates overseas, per the ACNC Register, only in Solomon Islands. Why is Papua New Guinea still not included?

Do they share the Gospel[1]?

  • No

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?

  • Because WMC is a ‘Small’ charity, it is exempt from lodging a Financial Report. Even if it were the next size up, ‘Medium’, which it would be if it consolidated its subsidiaries, it would still be exempt. This is because it is a ‘Basic Religious Charity’.
    • This status also makes it exempt from completing the ‘Financial Information’ section in the AIS 2017.
  • It could have supplied both the Report and the AIS information voluntarily but chose not to.

Do they pay their directors?

  • There is insufficient public information to say.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • Stripe and PayPal are used, so yes.

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • This is not disclosed.

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

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (two days before the deadline, seven months after their year-end).

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2017: Not quite: they do intend to fundraise, and there are no outcomes reported.
  • Financial Report 2017:
    • As a ‘Small’ charity, WMC does not have to submit a Financial Report.
      • Even if it had consolidated its subsidiaries (see above), because size is based on the revenue of the ‘registered entity’, its size would not have changed[2].
    • The ACNC says that ‘providing an AFR is optional but encouraged’. This encouragement was not enough for WMC.
    • However, WMC’s membership of Missions Interlink requires them to “have available for [their] members and supporters a clear and appropriate financial statement which has been approved by its auditor.”  So just ask.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • NA.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • There should have been an audit, but if there was one it hasn’t been made public.

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

  • No
    • ‘Who the Charity Benefits’ is blank.
    • Papua New Guinea is missing from the list of countries.
    • ‘Phone’, ‘Email’, and ‘Website’ are still blank (but are not compulsory).

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • The ‘National Leadership’ are these four people.
  • Which, with the addition of Jeffrey Adams, is the list on the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’):
    • Jeffrey Adams
    • Peter Dobson
    • Rosemary Richardson
    • Rex Rigby
    • Douglas Ring
    • This list has not changed for the last three years.
    • There are 20 directorships on the ACNC Register in the name ‘Jeffrey Adams’, 14 for ‘Rex Rigby’, 11 for ‘Rosemary Richardson’, 12 for ‘Douglas Ring’, and nine for ‘Peter Dobson’. And the register only covers charities, not all not-for-profits, and of course no for-profit organisations.  Therefore, if after eliminating the charities for which a WMC person is not a director, you are left with the total being more than a handful or so, it would be legitimate for you to question whether their ability to discharge their fiduciary responsibilities is threatened.

To whom is WMC accountable?

  • As a charity, to the ACNC.
  • Although not mentioned on the WMC website, WWM, although not a separate business, is a member of Missions Interlink.
    • For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

 

 

  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. Section 205-25, Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012.

 

Northpointe Baptist Church Incorporated: charity review

This is a charity review of Northpointe Baptist Church Incorporated (NBC), 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 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.
  • I sent them a draft of this review. Here is their response:
    • Thanks for performing a charity review of Northpointe.  It is extremely useful to have, and we will use it to guide is through making necessary changes to the way things are administered, recorded and reported.  The church strives to be transparent and accountable in everything that is done.
    • They also gave some feedback. This has been included below the applicable comment.

Is it registered?

  • Yes, as a charity.
  • NBC is an Australian Capital Territory (ACT) incorporated association (A 04911).
  • 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.
  • The ACNC Register says that it operates overseas only in Vietnam. But the website says otherwise:

  •  Ministry comment: ‘Regarding operating overseas, we do support missionaries overseas, but this was not included in last years (sic) report as we didn’t visit or engage in any “operational” support during the year.  Vietnam was outlined as a mission trip there (sic) was organised during the year.’
    • Reviewer response: Providing funds is an activity for ACNC purposes.
  • It has no fundraising licences. Whether or not it requires one in a state that has a licensing regime applicable to charities, depends 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.

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.

Where were the (net) donations sent?

  • For only $12K of the $41K is this disclosed: ‘Manna (Vietnam Orphanage)’.
    • How does this relate to ‘GVI’ (above) and here?

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

  • ‘General Funds’
  • ‘Missions’
  • ‘GVI’
  • ‘Building Fund’

Is their reporting up-to-date?

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

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2017: No
    • The ‘Description of charity’s activities and outcomes’
      • is not about 2017 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.
    • There are again no figures under ‘Balance Sheet Extract’.
  • Financial Report 2017: 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.
    • The reviewer has also deviated materially from the requirements of his profession.
    • Ministry comment: ‘The committee will work to better understand and improve accounting practices’.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • 44% of the expenditure went on the one full-time employee (Annual Information Statement (AIS)2017).
  • The next highest expenditure was ‘Missions’ plus ‘Love Offering’, 28%.
    • Much more than this could have been given – NBC again has a substantial sum in the bank ($149K).
      • 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.

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?

      • 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.

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.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Per the website:

  • Which listing has little correspondence with what is shown on the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’):
  • Ministry comments: (1) ‘The committee is looking to have the web site better maintained and will aim have any needed changes incorporated. (2) There have been changes to the leadership team over the past few months and the web site update was missed.  Thanks for outlining that.

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.

Crossculture Church of Christ Inc: charity review

A charity review of CrossCulture[1] Church of Christ Inc (CCC), an organisation that seeks donations online and is an Associate member of Missions Interlink. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

For last year’s review, see here.

Is it responsive to feedback?

  • CCC does not invite, on its website, feedback or complaints.
  • There is nothing about their accountability on the website.
  • I sent them a draft of this review. Like last year, they… did not respond.

Is CCC registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • CCC is a Victorian incorporated association (VIC A0050619R).
  • It holds two business names, Melbourne City Conference Centre, and Celebration Books.
  • CCC routinely use less than its full name, thus contravening the business names legislation and, most likely, sometimes also their enabling (associations) legislation.
  • It is exempt from the Victorian fundraising regime. Whether it requires a licence in the other states that have a regime applicable to charities depends on whether those states think that CCC is ‘fundraising’.

What do they do?

Does DMI share the Gospel?[2]

  • 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?

  • This is too hard to estimate from the information provided.

Do they pay their board members?

  • There is no constitution on the ACNC Register to check whether this is prohibited.
  • Unless it is in one of the expense items called ‘Others’, it does not appear that they make such payments.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • PayPal is used, so yes.

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

  • Online, only ‘General Fund’ and ‘Open Up, Reach Out Project’.
  • By direct debit:

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (six months after year end, two days before the deadline and three weeks later than last year.)

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016: No
    • The figures for the ‘Comprehensive Income Statement summary’ are not the figures for CCC, but one of its ‘segments’.
    • The business names are missing.
    • There are no outcomes given.
  • Financial Report 2016: No. Once again,
    • The Report is a confusing collection of statements, several which are not required.
    • There is no ‘Statement of Comprehensive Income’, or similar.
    • There is no ‘Statement of Changes in Equity’, or similar.
    • The Notes to the Financial statements are incomplete.
    • By any reasonable interpretation, a church with a multi-million-dollar turnover and that controls two other charities is a reporting entity, and should therefore produce financial statements that comply with all the Accounting Standards.
    • There is no explanation of the relationship between the two charities that they control (Crossculture School Building Fund and Crossculture Development Foundation Ltd).
    • And, this year, where did the $10.28 m of ‘Property, plant & Equipment’ go?

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • Because of the issues with the Financial Report (see above), I make no comment.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • The auditor, Brian Bay FIPA, of Brian Bay & Co, issued a ‘clean’ opinion. He shouldn’t have done – see Financial Report 2016, above.

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

  • No.
    • The three business names are missing.
    • ‘Operates in (Countries)’ is blank.
    • Still only one ‘responsible person’ is shown.

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • There is a list of ‘Global Partners’ under ‘Expenditure’ in one of the financial statements (see above), but no locations.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Not shown on the website.
  • ‘Responsible Persons’ on the ACNC Register still shows only one person, Chuang Kong.
  • The pastors are shown here, but it appears from the Financial Report 2016, that the following people, the ‘Board of Elders’ are (or at least were on 7 May 2017) in charge:
    • Samuel Reeve
    • David May
    • Pieter Bruinstroop
    • Zyx Owen
    • Chee Khiam Tay
    • Thomas Siaw
  • We cannot confirm the composition of the committee because CCC still hasn’t lodged its governing document.
    • It has lodged an ‘Overview of the governance structure of Swanston Street Church of Christ’, but this document does not mention the committee required under the associations legislation (nor most other things required by that legislation).
  • Chuang Kong is neither a pastor nor, per the ‘Board of Elders Report’, an elder.

To whom is CCC accountable?

  • As a charity, to the ACNC.
  • And to the Victorian incorporated associations regulator.
  • Not claimed on the website, but CCC is also accountable to Missions Interlink via their Associate membership.
    • For one opinion on the strength of that accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

 

 

  1. The name on the ACNC Register is incorrect: ‘CrossCulture…’, not ‘Crossculture’.
  2. Good living and social concern are important [to the cause of evangelism], but they are not uniquely Christian graces…I’ve met a lot of fine Hindus, Muslims and atheists. Just living the life is not going to bring someone to Christ. There is much more to it than that. We must help people, certainly, but we must also share with them why we are motivated to do so. We must stand against injustice, poverty and need, but we must at the same time point to the One who brings justice and who can meet the deepest need. Until they know our reasons, how can they come to know our Lord? [Dan Armstrong, the Fifth Gospel: The Gospel According to You, Anzea Books, pp. 13-14.

CityLife Church Inc: charity review

A charity review of CityLife Church Inc (CC) as an organisation that seeks donations online, whose ‘World Impact Dept’ is a member of Missions Interlink, and which shares a director (Karen Naylor) with the body that accredits organisations if they meet ‘Nine Principles of Ministry Accountability‘. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

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

Are they responsive to feedback?

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

Is CC registered?

  • As a charity, yes[1].
    • Not to be confused with the organisation with the identical name, a New South Wales association (INC9878332).
    • Or a name that’s close:
      • Citilife Church Inc (a deregistered Queensland association)
      • Citilife Church (a business name of Christian Outreach Centre)
  • CC controls four, probably five, and possibly six, other charities:
  • CC is a Victorian incorporated association (A0026171A).
  • It holds no business names. Does this mean that it should be using its full name on its website and on Facebook?
  • CC operates, per the ACNC Register, not only in Victoria but also in Western Australia. There is no mention of this state on the website. If they are indeed operating there, they do not have the necessary registration (an ARBN).
  • CC operates in eight overseas countries.
  • CC doesn’t have any fundraising licences. It is exempt in the state in which it operates. Whether it requires a licence in the five six states that have a licensing regime for charities depends whether they think that seeking donations on the internet is ‘fundraising’.

What do they do?

  • See under ‘Connect’ and under ‘Grow’ in the main menu on the website.

Does CC share the Gospel?[2]

  • 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?

  • The expenses are not classified to allow this calculation.

Do they pay their board members?

  • There nothing prohibiting this in the constitution.
  • Unless such expenses are included in ‘General Expenses’ (and barring misclassifications), no such payments have been made.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No
    • But under ‘Give’ in the main menu, both ‘Outreach’ and ‘Building’ options are tax-deductible giving. This is because CC is collecting for another charity.

Is their online giving secure?

  • Security is not mentioned.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (five and a half months after their year-end, the same time as last year).
    • But if you are considering a large donation, I would ask for more up-to-date financial information – the accounts are for a year end that is now 14 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016: No
    • I cannot get a combination of CC’s multiple donation figures in the profit and loss statement to add to the figure given.
    • The ‘Gift from Open House Christian Fellowship’ $3.43 m, is not ‘Other Income (for example, gains)’.
    • No outcomes are given.
    • The trading name is missing.
  • Financial Report 2016: No. The accounts do not show a true and fair view.
    • CC is a very large church (Melbourne’s largest?). It has multiple sites, 114 employees, and 2584 volunteers (AIS 2016). And that’s ignoring its subsidiaries. Therefore, the directors’ claim that CC is not a reporting entity is…well, ridiculous.
      • The directors again do not give any reason for this decision, but it means that they can produce financial statements that do not have to comply with all the Accounting Standards. It also means that they are effectively saying is that CC has no users, past and prospective, who rely on normal financial statements to make decisions.
    • The Financial Report does not give the full picture of the CC operation. CC has four, probably five, maybe six active ministries that are run via separate charities yet does not produce consolidated financial statements.
      • CC says that ‘Kingdom Investment Fund…and Student Impact Fund are included as part of these financial reports’, but this appears to mean only that their transactions and balances are reported along with those of CC in the one set of statements.
        • For instance, to show ‘Distribution from KIF’ as a negative amount in CC’s accounts is confusing.
      • This extract from Note I (o) is an example of the integration in reality, but not in the accounts:

    • For more, see this footnote[3].

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • Because of what’s above, no comment.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • The auditor, Peter Shields for Saward Dawson, gave a ‘clean’ opinion.
  • But before you decide how much comfort to take from this
    • note that in continuing with the engagement, he again implicitly agreed with the directors’ decision to produce special purpose rather than general purpose financial statements (see above).
    • see ‘Financial Report 2015’ above.
    • read here and here about audit opinions.

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

  • Are they really operating in Western Australia?
  • ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’ are still blank, but neither are compulsory.

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

  • ‘General’
    • ‘Tithes’
    • ‘General Offering’
    • ‘Church Building Fund’
    • ‘World Impact (Missions)
      • ‘Partnership in Missions’
      • ‘Other’
    • ‘Other’
  • ‘Nations’
    • ‘Partnership in Missions – Missions Worker’
      • ‘Please specify’ (no drop-down menu)
    • ‘Partnership in Missions – Other’
      • ‘Please specify’ (no drop-down menu)
  • ‘Outreach’
    • (‘Kingdom Investment Fund’) ‘My gift for where most needed’ (Tax-deductible)
  • ‘Building’ – ‘The Story Building Project’

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • Other than ‘in Australia’, $2.13 m, and ‘for use outside Australia’, $569K (AIS 2016), there is no disclosure.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • They are not shown on the website, but per the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’):
    • Mark Eddison
    • Daljit Gill
    • Andrew Hill
    • Peter Leigh
    • Michael Loke
    • Karen Naylor
    • Peter Sheahan
    • Andrea Stickland
    • Elizabeth Thong
    • All these board members are also members of at least one of CC’s charities. Hill and Eddison are members of two, Sheahan three, and Leigh all four.
    • The name ‘Andrew Hill’ appears on the register for 12 charities. And the register only covers charities, not all not-for-profits, and of course doesn’t include for-profit organisations.  CC’s Andrew Hill is the Senior Pastor of CC, so, if after eliminating the charities for which he is not a director, you are left with the total being more than a handful, it would be legitimate for you to question whether his ability to discharge his fiduciary responsibilities is threatened.

To whom are CC accountable?

  • As a charity, to the ACNC.
  • And to the Victorian regulator of incorporated associations.
  • It’s not mentioned on the website, but a part of CC, its ‘World Impact Dept (sic)’ is a member of Missions Interlink. (It is strange that membership continues to be in this name, the name of an entity that doesn’t even have an ABN.)
    • Missions Interlink is an organisation that has standards with which members must comply.
      • For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

 

 

  1. The name has been recorded as ‘Citylife…’ instead of ‘CityLife…’.
  2. Good living and social concern are important [to the cause of evangelism], but they are not uniquely Christian graces…I’ve met a lot of fine Hindus, Muslims and atheists. Just living the life is not going to bring someone to Christ. There is much more to it than that. We must help people, certainly, but we must also share with them why we are motivated to do so. We must stand against injustice, poverty and need, but we must at the same time point to the One who brings justice and who can meet the deepest need. Until they know our reasons, how can they come to know our Lord?” [Dan Armstrong, the Fifth Gospel: The Gospel According to You, Anzea Books, pp. 13-14.
  3. Other comments:
  • Other than the ‘Board of Elders’ (the committee), only ‘CityLife Community Care’ is mentioned under ‘Related Party Disclosure’.
  • CC again discloses a $4.48 m ‘contingent asset’:

  • A contingent asset is ‘a possible asset that arises from past events and whose existence will be confirmed only by the occurrence or non-occurrence of one or more uncertain future events not wholly within the control of the entity [AASB137.10, www.aasb,gov.au].
  • Even though CC says that this distribution in the same class as ‘Tithes, offerings and other gifts’, and therefore should only be recognized on receipt, it is the Accounting Standard on revenue that governs when revenue is recognized. And in this case, because it is more than ‘probable’ that ‘future economic benefits will flow’ to CC, and the distribution can ‘be measured reliably’ [AASB 118, www.aasb.gov.au], this $4.48 m should, on the information presented by CC, have been booked as revenue. With an asset as the contra. Both assets and revenue are therefore materially understated.
  • The group has lent $6.00 m to Waverley Christian College, all of it at 90 day at-call or less. There is no explanation why this has been classified as a non-current asset.
  • As a public ancillary fund, Kingdom Investments can only help deductible gift recipients. CC is therefore not eligible. To whom was the money donated?
  • The presentation of income in the Statement of Income and Expenditure and Other Comprehensive Income is confusing and neither complies with the Accounting Standards nor matches what is shown in the Statement of Cash Flows.
  • CC continue to disclose ‘Revenue for General Reserves & KIF’ ($2.82 m) without explanation. It is the source of the revenue, not its destination that needs to be disclosed here.
  • CC continues to use the acronym ‘KIF’ without explanation.
  • ‘Other expenses’ $879K is broken down, but ‘Ministry expenses’, 983K, is again unexplained.
  • The unusual ‘Expense from General Reserve ($336K) is still unexplained.

Presbyterian Church Of Australia Aust Presbyterian World Mission Committee: charity review

This is a charity review of Presbyterian Church Of Australia Aust Presbyterian World Mission Committee – yes, I’ve got the name right – (PWMC), 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.

For the previous review, see here.

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • I sent them a draft of this review. Like last year, they chose not to comment.

Is PWMC registered?

What do they do?

  • ‘What do we do?
    • aid and refugee work
    • audio distribution of the Bible
    • Bible translation
    • church planting
    • teaching English as a Second Language
    • Evangelism
    • IT support
    • mission aviation
    • primary/secondary education
    • short term work parties to Vanuatu
    • theological education
    • training Australian indigenous leaders
    • university lecturing
    • …and many other activities that help spread the gospel [APWM Information Leaflet, here.]
  • PWMC is a national organisation, a committee of the General Assembly of the church in Australia [The Presbyterian Church of Australia, Constitution, Procedure and Practice, paragraph 5.(a), governing document, ACNC Register]. It appears from the NSW Property Trust Act 1936, that the NSW church looks after all the affairs of the General Assembly [Chapter 12 of the above document].

Do they share the Gospel?[2]

  • Although it is only one thing in this long list, one would expect that at least some of the missionaries doing good works are also sharing the Gospel.

What impact are they having?

  • There is no indication that they are assessing their impact. (I searched for ‘outcomes’ and ‘results’ too.)

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

  • The figures for PWMC are contained within the financial statements of the Group, those of the Presbyterian Church (New South Wales) Property Trust, along with those for eight other Presbyterian organisations. So no calculation is possible.

Do they pay their board members?

  • A 481-page document and unfamiliarity with the relationship between the parts of that document meant that I didn’t check whether they can pay such fees.
  • There is insufficient disclosure of expenses to say whether anybody in the Group paid their board members, let alone PWMC (one of nine organisations in the Group).

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • PayPal is used, so yes.

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

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • They don’t have to report, their figures being included in a Group Financial Report.
    • That Report was submitted four months after the year-end, seven weeks 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 over 13 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016: One wasn’t required.
    • It wasn’t required because of PWMC’s membership of the Group (see above). But even without this, it wouldn’t have to submit financial statements because it is a ‘basic religious charity’. The legislators apparently thought – I’ve not been able to find the reasoning – that there was enough accountability and transparency for you in the requirements of the religious system to which these charities belonged.
  • Financial Report 2016: One wasn’t required.
  • Group AIS 2016: Yes – although I don’t think the control of nine diverse Presbyterian organisations, one of which is the national ‘Missions Committee’, is fairly described as ‘Providing administration support to Presbyterian organisations in NSW’.
  • Group Financial Report 2016: (the report that includes PWMC’s figures): No, no true and fair view.
    • To produce the type of financial statements that imply that any stakeholders, past or prospective, can request a body controlling nine charities, earning $33.92 m p.a., and with 300 staff, can expect a positive response to their request for financial statements tailored to their needs is ridiculous.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • No information on PWMC is available. You must trust the holding company. If this is not enough for you, then contact PWMC.

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • Nothing is disclosed.

What did the auditor say about the last (Group) financial statements?

  • The auditor, Meredith Scott for Ernst & Young, gave a ‘clean’ opinion.
  • But
    • as it’s on the consolidated financial statements, statements where PWMC is mentioned only on the cover as one of nine other entities whose figures have been included,
    • and as it’s accepting of special purpose financial statements (above),
    • you might question how much comfort on PWMC you can take from that.

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

  • No
    • An absence of countries under ‘Operates in (Countries)’ does not match the website information.
    • Is it really the case that just two people govern this charity?
    • ‘Who the Charity Benefits’ is blank.
    • Admittedly it’s only a trading name, but it’s incorrect (under ‘Other Name(s)’

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • There’s nothing about directors or a governing body on the website.
  • ‘Responsible Persons’ on the ACNC Register shows two people:
    • Peter Merrick
    • Stephen Smith
    • The governing document says that there are considerably more than two people on the Committee:

To whom is PWMC accountable?

  • As a charity, to the ACNC.
    • Its ‘Charity Tick’ is used in the website footer 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 PWMC’s AIS is not overdue, and the ACNC has not taken any compliance action against it.
  • They are accountable because of their membership of Missions Interlink.
    • However, when they describe their membership, they make no mention of the accountability aspect.
      • For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

 

 

  1. I only checked in the name that they use on the website, the name that they told me last year was ‘the correct name’ (private email), Australian Presbyterian World Mission; ‘Fundraising’ is not mentioned on the website, so maybe their operations don’t include fundraising. But the internet invitation is fundraising. If their compliance with these laws is of concern to you, I’d ask them to explain.
  2. Good living and social concern are important [to the cause of evangelism], but they are not uniquely Christian graces…I’ve met a lot of fine Hindus, Muslims and atheists. Just living the life is not going to bring someone to Christ. There is much more to it than that. We must help people, certainly, but we must also share with them why we are motivated to do so. We must stand against injustice, poverty and need, but we must at the same time point to the One who brings justice and who can meet the deepest need. Until they know our reasons, how can they come to know our Lord? [Dan Armstrong, the Fifth Gospel: The Gospel According to You, Anzea Books, pp. 13-14.