Gateway Baptist Church Ltd: charity review

This is review in the series ‘Organisations accredited by the CMA Standards Council’. The CMA Standards Council is ‘a ministry of Christian Ministry Advancement’, with a mission “to help build faith and trust[1] in Christian organisations, be they churches, charities, schools or otherwise, to enable them to achieve more effective outcomes” Gateway Baptist Church’ (Gateway) is one of these accredited organisations.

Gateway is also an Associate of Missions Interlink, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission’[2]. The review is therefore simultaneously a review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink.’

I sent a draft of this review to Gateway[3]. As usual, they did not respond.

Gateway is an organisation that seeks donations online. 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 the ABN at the bottom of its website, is the third one[4]. But the second has the same addresses and is controlled by the same people.

The giving page says that ‘Unless otherwise shown, all giving goes to Gateway Baptist Church ABN 68 607 195 522.’

2. As a church, one would not expect Gateway to use third party fundraisers.  And there is nothing to suggest that they do.

3. Gateway’s web address begins with ‘https’, and there is a ‘closed padlock symbol next to the website’s URL in the address bar”, so the website is secure [the first ACNC article above].

There is nothing on the giving pages about the security of your information. The third option uses Paypal, so that may be enough for you for that one[5].

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 three giving options offer, without explanation, a tax deduction? The first one is to an organisation in a completely different name, Bloom Asia Ltd (Blo0m)[6]:

The ACNC Register shows that Bloom is a charity, a charity whose constitution shows that it is ‘owned’ and controlled by Gateway[7]:

There is no mention of this company in the Financial Report 2018 [on the ACNC Register].

The second tax-deductible option is Gateway Community Fund[8].

Even though this giving is to Gateway, there is no mention of the Fund in the Financial Report 2018. In fact, I can find no record of this entity anywhere.

5.  The use of your donations

Objectives / Mission

From the Financial Report 2018:

The mission is given in the search result (the link goes to a 404 error):

Activities

The Financial Report (above) continues:

For the detail, see ‘Next Steps’ and ‘Care’ in the main menu.

For what happened in 2018, see the Annual Report 2018.

Sharing the Gospel[9]?

Yes

Locations

Gateway operates in Australia, per the ACNC Register, only in Queensland.

The absence of overseas operations on the ACNC Register is surprising, and although there is no information on the website about Gateway’s missionaries, they do exist[10]:

So why does the AIS 2018 say that no money was sent overseas?

Donations received

From the Financial Report 2018 (but see below for cautions), donations were at least 89% of the revenue. $6.46 million[11].

Donations used

The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report 2018. Do you depend on a regulator to ensure that you are provided with suitable Gateway financial statements (called general purpose financial statements)? [12][vii]  In other words, can you ring Gateway’s office and request that they prepare financial statements that answer the question or questions you have about the charity?  For an organisation that has 54 employees and 1175 volunteers (AIS 2018], runs on multiple sites, and controls another large charity, it’s highly unlikely.  Yet the directors[13], by deciding that Gateway is not a ‘reporting entity’[14] effectively say you can:

[15]

And this with the agreement of the auditor, Daniel Gill, of Pilot Partners.

So, the financial statements have not been drawn up to suit you.  Why, then, would you rely on them?

Apart from the choice of financial statements that do not have to comply with all the Accounting Standards (special purpose statements), there’s another reason why you might not rely on these financial statements: they don’t show a complete picture of the resources and activities controlled by the leaders of the church:

  • The Annual Report includes a report on Bloom, but there is nothing in the Financial Report.
  • The Gateway Community Fund is mentioned in the Annual Report, but there is nothing in the Financial Report.
  • The existence of the other Gateway Baptist Church ‘owned’ by Gateway is not acknowledged.
  • There’s also nothing about the takeover of Baptist Church Logan City [Annual Report, pages 6, 10, 18]).

Conclusion

You are entitled to expect more of any organisation in which you are investing (time or money), but even more so an organisation that is held up as a standard-setter ‘in terms of impeccable corporate behaviour’, a leading light in transparency and accountability.

Should you choose to rely on the statements, here is where the donations went:

Cash spent

This is the only information about where the cash went on operating activities[16]:

Resources consumed (i.e. accrual)

The accrual section of the Report is more helpful, (with the last year’s figures in the second column):

‘Missions expenses’ is 8% of the total, ‘Employee benefits…’ 60%.

There is no explanation of ‘Ministry expenses’, nor how ‘Operating expenses’ relate to the other expenses of operation.

Destination of the ‘Missions expenses’ and ‘Ministry expenses’

There is no disclosure of the geographical destination of donors’ funds.

How they ensured that the money was used for the purpose for which you gave it

This is not addressed by Gateway.

Impact

The Annual Report reports the number of people involved in the various activities of Gateway in 2018. Impact generally has to be inferred.

Please contact me if you need a more in-depth review.

 

 

  1. Emphasis in original.
  2. https://missionsinterlink.org.au/about/
  3. Number 8 of the CMA Standards Council’s ‘Nine Principles of Ministry Accountability‘ is ‘The organisation must be transparent and accountable to its stakeholders’. One of the nine ‘Standards’ that ‘fall under’ that principle is about openness and responsiveness to feedback:With Missions Interlink, both Members and Associates have to accept a set of standards, the introduction to which includes this statement:http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-20.png
  4. Because it is a registered charity and its constitution (a) prohibits the payment of directors’ fees, and (b) requires all payments to directors to be approved by the Board, Gateway is permitted to trade without the ‘Ltd/Limited’ on the end of its name.
  5. The first one uses PushPay. Is this well known enough yet to not require any information?
  6. 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.
  7. The number given in the Annual Report (page 25) is ‘more than 40’.
  8. Bloom took in another $1.17 million in donations.
  9. [vii] From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au: http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/word-image-15.png  
  10. Either the seven people on the website, or the 10 people on the ACNC Register, depending on which list is up-to-date.
  11. Included in their Directors’ declaration, part of the Financial Report (contradicted, I think just through carelessness, by Note 1). Note 2 is missing a similar statement, and nowhere do the directors’ say why they have decided that the normal financial statements for an entity such as this as not required.
  12. AASB 1053, www.aasb.gov.au, Appendix A.
  13. Although this level of disclosure may be compliant with the letter of the applicable Accounting Standard ( AASB 107), it is not consistent with either the intent of the Standard and paragraphs 14 and 19, or what is reasonable to expect from a major Christ-led charity that is reporting a true and fair view.

 

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