This is a review of SU Qld, a charity that seeks donations online, and has been accredited as a ‘high quality organisation’ with the CMA Standards Council. (See here for last year’s review.)
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 SU Qld:
1. It is a registered charity via its legal name, Scripture Union Queensland:
3. SU Qld’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 SU Qld.
Although they say, below the fold on the ‘Donate’ page, that ‘Your credit card details are never stored with us. They are sent straight to our payment processor over a highly secure connection,’ the name of the provider is not given.
Ministry comment: ‘SU QLD has a well developed risk management approach and is very aware of cyber security threats. As such we are cautious about divulging this type of information. The closed padlock icon indicates the accepted assurance of TLS protocol ( i.e.”bank-level” security).’
4. SU Qld does offer a tax deduction.
The ABN record, by showing that SU Qld is a deductible gift recipient both in its own right, and also only ‘in relation to a fund, authority or institution it operates’, Scripture Union Queensland Schools Ministry Fund, suggests that all donations will be tax-deductible. SU Qld gives not explain why this is not the case when you come to give online:
Ministry comment: ‘SU QLD operate a DGR fund under item 1.’
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 Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows. Unfortunately, SU Qld has exercised its right to use (the less common) indirect method of disclosing cash flows from operating activities. This means that there is no direct read of where the cash went.
The other statement that talks about flows during the period, the Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Income, shows what resources were consumed during the period (the cash may be paid out later).
Expenses totaled $30.19 m. $21.30 m (71%) of this was ‘Chaplaincy expenses’. There is no explanation of what this figure includes. While we might be expected to know what a ‘chaplain’ is, we can’t be expected to know what expensesresult from having these people, nor the relationship between these expenses and the other major expenses (‘Administration’, ‘Ministry’, and ‘Marketing’).
The second largest expense was ‘Ministry expenses’, $4.06 m, for another 13% of the total. There is no explanation of this term, or what the figure includes. The whole entity, SU Qld, is a ‘ministry’, so the term conveys little or any information.
That’s little or no explanation of the destination of 84% of the expenses. End of review.
Ministry comment: ‘We have reviewed both the format and content of our financial reports with our auditors and are satisfied that we report as required under the accounting standards. Detailed information is also available freely on our website that describes all the activities (eg: camping and training, aka ministries) and chaplaincy programs of SU QLD and how we use the donations we receive from our supporters. The School chaplaincy snapshot, Annual report and Impact statements are three such sources.
Reviewer response: When assessing a true and fair view, words published outside the Financial Report cannot compensate for the lack of words inside. See AASB 101, paragraph 112 (www.aasb.gov.au).
- ‘Consolidated’ means that the figures of one or more other entities are included because SU Qld has control over them. The Notes to the accounts show that it is just one entity:
2. Because ‘Christian’ charities often have workers who are not paid wages, there is no guarantee that the people working for SU Qld receive a wage.
Ministry comment: ‘We of course do pay our staff and chaplains (see Note 3 of our financial statements). Most of our chaplaincy expenses relate to wages and associated oncosts as we serve over 850 schools in Queensland (see snapshot for further information). We are also blessed, as are many charities, with hundreds of faithful volunteers who support our ministries, including camping and chaplaincy in particular.’ ↑