Christian Ministry Advancement Ltd: mini-charity review

The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has been superseded.  Please start with the updated review published in June 2018, and come back to this one as needed.

Mini-charity review of Christian Ministry Advancement Ltd (CMA), as an organisation that seeks donations on the internet. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

CMA is also the organisation that is, via the CMA Standards Council, giving a seal of approval to Christian organisations who meeta set of standards of good governance, financial oversight, and fundraising ethics.”[1]

Is it responsive to feedback?

  • When sent a draft of this review, on 12 June 2017, they…did not respond.

Is it registered?

  • Yes, as a charity.
  • CMA has several business names, but the one that it uses most, ‘CMA’ is not registered. (And ASIC says that it is not available.)
  • CMA is a member of the EA Foundation ‘family’, an affiliate.
    • The EA Foundation was originally the Evangelical Alliance; Australian Evangelical Alliance Inc is a separate charity trading as Missions Interlink (which is also one of the EA Foundation’s affiliates).
  • CMS is a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
    • It appears to have the provisions in its constitution to enable it to omit ‘Ltd/Limited’ at the end of its name.
  • The ACNC Register says that CMS operates throughout Australia, ‘Grants and donations’ is easily its largest source of revenue, and it seeks donations via its website. But it doesn’t have a fundraising licence in any of the seven states with a licensing regime[2].

What does CMA do?

Do they share the Gospel[3]?

  • No (Not part of their mission.)

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.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • Yes

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

  • None

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (nearly six months after their year-end, 10 days before the final due date)

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • Annual Information Statement 2016 (AIS 2016): Almost
    • ‘Outcomes’ are not reported.
    • One business name is missing
  • Financial Report 2016[4]: Questionable
    • The directors say that ‘there are no users dependent on general purpose financial statements’, implying that any of CMA’s stakeholders, both present and prospective, who require financial information to make a decision, are able to command the preparation of statements tailored to their needs. With a professional management, operations in all states, hundreds of subscribers, others who attend events who are not subscribers, a public invitation to donate, and a high-profile initiative to give a seal of approval to Christian organisations that meet a set of standards, this is questionable.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • Revenue increased 24%.
    • Within this, ‘Grants and donations’ increased 148%.
  • The surplus as a percentage of income increased from less than 1% to 4%.
  • ‘Employee benefits expense’ increased 54% – something to do with the CMA Standards Council?
  • ‘Professional fees’ of $16K presumably include the (undisclosed) audit fee.
  • There are no non-current liabilities, so how did the ‘’Finance costs’ arise?
    • And where are they in the Statement of Cash Flows?
  • Working capital (current assets less current liabilities) dropped marginally, from 134% to 129%.
  • It appears that a grant was received for the CMA Standards Council that doesn’t yet qualify as revenue, and is therefore included as a liability ($85K).
  • There are no long-term liabilities.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • He gave a ‘clean’ opinion[5].
    • To do this he had to agree with the directors that there are no users, past or prospective, who are dependent on the type of accounts that are produced when users are not able to command the preparation of statements tailored to their needs.

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

  • Yes

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • On the website here.
  • Which matches ‘Responsible Persons’ on the ACNC Register [changed from ‘website’ 5.06.18]:
    • Jame Lewis
    • Richard Menteith
    • Karen Naylor
    • Robert Rawson
    • John Peberdy
      • There are 14 directorships recorded for the name ‘John Peberdy’. And the register only covers charities, not all not-for-profits, and no for-profit organisations. Therefore, if after eliminating the charities for which John is not a director, you are left with his 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 is CMA accountable?

  • To the ACNC as a charity, and to ASIC as a company.

 

 

  1. Here are the first three organisations accredited. See www.tedsherwood.com for a review of each.
  2. The law in this area is not straightforward – is an internet invitation ‘fundraising’ for instance? – and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.
  3. 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.
  4. Although far from an uncommon practice, I have always wondered about the appropriateness of featuring the logo of the auditor on the cover of a report that is the responsibility of the charity.
  5. To take the right amount of comfort from a ‘clean opinion’, please read here and here.