Somehow I got on the mailing list of ‘FamilyVoice Australia’, and their most recent message from the National Director, with the subject ‘Government gets it wrong AGAIN!’, finished with this request:
So I did as the charity regulator (the ACNC) suggests we do. In their article, Donating to Legitimate Charities, they give “some things to consider to help you make sure your donation is going where it is intended”:
- Check the charity’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.
- A search on the ACNC Register of charities gives the result Familyvoice Australia Inc (FamilyVoice). Although the name has a couple of significant differences, this is the charity that made the request.
The first difference is that there is doubt over whether the name on the Register is correct. The name that comes up when you follow the link on the Register to check the ABN,
is ‘Family Voice…’, with the words separated. You might not think this significant, but the organisation itself did, going to the trouble, at least according to this government record, of changing the name from ‘FamilyVoice…’ to ‘Family Voice’. In 2014.
The second difference is that neither the email I received nor the website (linked from the ACNC Register) discloses that the charity is an incorporated association. This disclosure is required by the charity’s enabling legislation:
This is the only exception:
FamilyVoice do not explain why they have shortened the name everywhere. (Even in the one place where would expect to find the legal name, in the footer, it is absent.)
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]. And there’s a link to information about the security of the information that you enter when donating.
4. The Australian Business Register (linked from FamilyVoice’s ACNC Register record), says that FamilyVoice is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts. It is, however, a ‘legitimate’ charity.
5. This is the closest to a ‘mission’ that I could find on the website:
At the bottom of the same page, there’s a fuller description:
For a ‘Christian’ organisation, it is disappointing (although not surprising) that Christ is not mentioned once, Jesus only nine times (and two of those are in giving requests, and two are incidental), and the gospel only once (and then as the ‘social gospel’).
The AIS asks for a report of 2017’s activities and outcomes but none is given, just a repetition of the information above. But there is a good description of what they did in 2017 in the Annual Report (available on the Register).
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. 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 FamilyVoice[vii]? Perhaps you intend to donate or are one of the donors who gave $871K last year [Financial Report 2017]? Or you are one of the 97 staff (AIS 2017)? If so, can you ring FamilyVoice’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’. I know I am.
The ACNC Register is therefore not the right place for us – we only have access to the published accounts of FamilyVoice, and the directors[ix], with the agreement of the auditor, have declared that we don’t exist:
Even if I agreed with what they were doing, the carelessness with the name and then the arrogance of this decision means that I would not be donating.
Continuing with the ACNC’s questions, the picture only gets worse.
- They got a qualified audit report:
It is not common. This is because the issue can be overcome.
- For the spending of your money, they effectively say ‘trust me’: 84% of revenue went on one line item, ‘Administrative expenses’, without any further explanation.
- There is no information on the outcomes, results or impact achieved with the donations received.
- On checking my database of review, I found that I had previously reviewed them, back in 2015. ↑
- 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?
- https://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/LZ/C/A/ASSOCIATIONS%20INCORPORATION%20ACT%201985.aspx ↑
- https://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/LZ/C/R/ASSOCIATIONS%20INCORPORATION%20REGULATIONS%202008.aspx ↑
- [vii] From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au: ↑
- From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au. ↑
- [ix] The people shown under ‘People’ here. ↑
- Graeme Rodda, for Moore Stephens. ↑
- “The principal weapon of our warfare against the powers and principalities of this world is not counter principles or propositions or political platforms or “Christian” legislation or electing the “right” political officials. It is Truth…” [Sweet, Leonard. Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ, Chapter 7, Thomas Nelson, Kindle Edition. ↑
- 75% of which is from donations. ↑