Gospel for Asia (Australia) Inc, charity review

The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has since been superseded.  Please start with the updated review published in August 2017, and come back to this one as needed.

Updated 10 December 2015

This is a charity review, a review, for supporters and potential supporters, of the Australian charity Gospel for Asia (Australia) Inc (GFAA).

It is structured according to the charity’s entry on the ACNC[i] Register, and its purpose is to supply some information extra to what is there, information that may be helpful in your giving decision.

It is up to you to decide whether any or all of the information presented here is what you need in order to make that decision, and whether to seek any other information, either from the charity itself or from other sources.

Ministry response

Prior to first publishing a review of GFAA on 9 June 2015, I sent my observations to the charity and invited them to comment. Monica Darr responded by email on 5 June 2015, not with a direct response to any of the observations, but a collection of comments.

The day after publication, in response to new information, I asked Monica, by email, about the destination and use of the money shown as being transferred overseas. The ensuing conversation ended when she didn’t respond to my emails of 13 June and  14 June[ii]. I updated the review on 25 August 2015.

GFAA is a member of Missions Interlink, the closest we have in Australia to the ECFA:

Member use of the Missions Interlink logo implies high standards of governance and financial accountability, giving the Christian public assurance of their integrity[iii].

On 27 August 2015 I sent a link to my review to the National Director, Pam Thyer, suggesting that GFAA was in breach of one or more of their standards. On 3 December 2015, in response to my suggestion that donors should be alerted to GFAA’s misrepresentation when soliciting donations, Pam said that she had discussed the matters I raised in the review with GFAA and had concluded that ‘they do not contravene the MI Standards’.

Given the above history, I did not seek GFAA’s comments on this updated review.

Organisation of this review

  • With the exception of a section inserted after Legal Name, this review is organised according to the headings in the register entry. This is how to use this section of the review:
    1. For each heading in the register entry, first read the information under that heading.
    2. Then check if that heading is included below. (Headings for which there is no comment are not included.)
  • There is then a more detailed comment on the Financial Report.
  • Lastly, there is a section Membership of accountability organisations claimed.

Sources

  • Internet search on the names under Charity Details, below.
  • GFAA website, and Facebook. Not on LinkedIn.
  • State government fundraising licence registers.
  • Email responses from GFAA’s Monica Darr (see Ministry Response, above).
  • Glassdoor

       GFA elsewhere

REGISTRATION DETAILS

Entity Subtype (‘charitable purposes’)

  • Note that, despite its name, and a ‘primary aim’ of sharing the Gospel (see below), ‘Advancing religion’ is last in a list of four purposes. 
  • The objects in the constitution do not mention sharing the Gospel.

CHARITY DETAILS

Legal name

  • GFAA is a Queensland incorporated association.
  • Unless GFAA has been granted an exemption under Sect 33 of the enabling legislation[iv], Sect 32 requires it to use the full name on all documents, including advertising material. GFAA is not complying with this requirement.
    • This means that it is non-compliant with Missions Interlink Standards (4.2.4).
  • GFAA is associated with Gospel for Asia (GFA). Given all the revelations about GFA over the last eight months – click on the category ‘Gospel for Asia’ at the bottom here, and then read the post titles – and the fact that the office across the Tasman has been seriously affected, it would be reasonable to believe that the Australian office is implicated too.
  • However, Missions Interlink, as part of their response to my suggestion that GFAA had breached one or more of its standards, said that GFAA was “a completely separate entity to GFA”. Given that GFAA exists to raise money for GFA (see Where the money went, below), it is important for Australian donors to understand the relationship between the two entities, so I address this claim in the next section.

Is GFAA “a completely separate entity to GFA”?

  • Yes, in a strictly legal sense, GFAA is separate to GFA. But this doesn’t mean that GFAA is not heavily influenced, even controlled, by GFA. (Consolidation accounting recognises the reality of the difference between legal separation – the form of the relationship – and practical separation – the substance of the relationship.)
  • GFA New Zealand is also a separate entity to GFA; however, when it got into trouble recently, GFA sent two of its staff to turn it around.
  • GFA itself describes GFAA as a GFA office.
  • The GFA shared website, for instance GFA Canada, describes GFAA as an ‘international office’, a term that most people would associate with an office with very close working relationship with its head or home office.
  • GFAA was founded by GFA.
  • The public think that GFAA
  • represents GFA.
  • The website gives the impression that it is an inseparable part of GFA.
  • It’s a fundraiser for GFA: see ‘Beneficiary’ in this information submitted to Consumer Affairs Victoria:

'Beneficiary' with Consumer Affairs Victoria

  • And last, but far from least, a former senior staffer of GFA gave this answer to my question here on the connection:

chainsbroken2xsays:

December 4, 2015 at 4:59 pm

@21 Ted, Geoff and Monica Darr, and Bryson (Thomas is last name I believe) were in the US office in 2013 for an international leaders meeting. The Austrailian office most definitely reports to KP. All the international office report to him even if it is through John Beers or David Carroll. Those two won’t use the restroom without running it by KP. The Austrailian office fell under John’s responsibility and as I said John is simply a channel to KP. If The Austrailian office is claiming independence that is just nonsense.

Other Name(s)

  • GFAA operates in Australia under the name ‘Gospel for Asia’. See, for example, the footer in their regular promotional email:

Footer of promotional email

  • In order to continue to operate, at least legally, under this name, GFAA needs to register it as a business name.
    • Until it does so GFAA is therefore non-compliant with Missions Interlink Standards (4.2.4).

Charity ABN

  • Tax deductibility: No tax deduction can be claimed for a donation to GFAA.

Charity Street Address

  • Postal address, from their email signature block: PO Box 3587, TOOWOOMBA QLD 435

ANNUAL REPORTING

AIS 2015

  • This is GFAA’s compulsory Annual Information Statement (AIS 2015)
  • It gives basic financial information.
    • If you think that’s all you need then there’s only one minor mistake – both income and expenses are understated by $628.

Financial Report 2015

  • This report can be opened either from here or from within AIS 2015 under Annual Reporting (above).
  • The report was completed three months after year end[v]and submitted one month later – four months into the six month period normally allowed for submission.
  • The coverage of finances in this review is left until the section Latest financial report – detail, below.

ABOUT THE CHARITY

  • Statement of Faith
    • None found[vi].
    • As members of Missions Interlink, they are required to accept and adhere to the AEA Statement of Faith. (If interested, you will need to ask Missions Interlink whether it is the one in their Standards Statement, or the one with much extra on the EA website.)

Date Established

  • According to this article, Geoff and Monica Darr, after visiting the headquarters of Gospel for Asia in the US, were asked to open up an ‘international office’ here in Australia. Both still work for the charity, and both are Responsible Persons (see below).

Who the Charity Benefits

  • Vision
    • None found.
    • GFAA exists to fundraise for GFA, so their vision is relevant: “Reaching the most unreached in our generation is the vision God has given to Gospel for Asia.” [vii]
  • Mission
    • None found.
      • Assuming that ‘available to the Christian public’ means on a website – a reasonable interpretation in this day-and-age – then GFAA’s lack of ‘a written Mission or Purpose Statement’ is a contravention of the Mission Interlink Standards.
    • GFAA exists to fundraise for GFA, so their mission is relevant: “Our mission in life is to be devout followers of Christ and to fulfill the Great Commission among the unreached in Asia through training, sending out and assisting qualified laborers in partnership with the Body of Christ”.
  • Activities (What does GFAA do?)
    • GFAA was asked to describe its activities in the AIS 2015. Unfortunately, they describe what GFA does instead:
      • Gospel for Asia is a ministry of charity linking Christians of Australia with the people of the Asian and Indian sub-continents by: * recruiting, training and sending national workers * literature production and distribution * providing free primary schools to the slum children of India and Asia *teaching basic preventative medicine to those caught in poverty, sickness and hopelessness * providing relief assistance in times of natural disaster
    •  GFAA expenditure – see below – shows that GFAA is simply a fundraiser for GFA.
      • This is confirmed by GFAA themselves on their website:
        • Gospel for Asia (Australia) Inc. functions to provide a cost effective, transparent, and reliable means for its Australian donors and sponsors to support the ministry of its indigenous partners, with a view to transform communities in South Asia through Christ’s love. 
    • Here are the major programs of GFA:
      • Bible College Scholarships
      • Bible Colleges
      • Church Building
      • Dalit Outreach
      • Field Ministries
      • Film Ministry
      • Jesus Wells
      • Muslim Ministry
      • Persecution Relief Fund
      • Radio Programs
      • Support a Woman Missionary for One Year
      • Unsponsored Children
      • Unsponsored Missionaries
        • This list matches neither the donations options elsewhere on the site, nor the line items of revenue disclosed in the Financial Report (see below).
  • Outcomes (What was delivered?)
    • GFAA was asked to describe its outcomes in the AIS 2015. Nothing was given – even for GFA.
  • Impacts (How are people’s lives improved?)
    • None found.

Size of Charity

  • 2014-15 ‘Revenue’ was $2.96 m[viii] (up from $2.41 m), easily exceeding the $1 million threshold for the top size of charity (‘Large’).

Financial Year End

  • This means that the next financial report is due by 31 December 2016. Before that the financial information on the Register will be up to 18 months out-of-date.

WHERE THE CHARITY OPERATES

Operating State(s)[ix]

  • As an association GFAA is a registrable Australian body. If GFAA have understood this section, they are saying that they are conducting business outside Queensland – in fact all over Australia. This means that, as a ‘registrable Australian body’, GFAA needs to register under Part 5B.2 of the Corporations Act 2001. It’s lack of an ARBN shows that it’s not registered.
    • This means that it is non-compliant with Missions Interlink Standards (4.2.4).
  • Even though GFAA, at least according to its website, has only one office and no representatives, it raises money via its website and with the help of churches throughout Australia. However, GFAA holds a fundraising licence in only five of the seven states that have a licensing regime[x].
    • If it requires a licence in one or both the other States it is therefore non-compliant with Missions Interlink Standards (4.2.4).

Operates in (Countries)

  • Even it was about GFA, the list on the Register -– five countries – matches neither the website, six countries, nor the number stated in GFAA’s first email, 12.
  • Just to add to the confusion, operates in’ is not to be confused with ‘has an office in’: GFA, according to the website, has seven other ‘International Offices’. (Care: two sites in the list are not offices, but languages.)
  •  But following the ACNC’s advice to include any country to which a grant or donation has been made, India can legitimately be listed here.

CHARITY’S DOCUMENT (SIC)

  • The ACNC allows charities to put their Annual Report or similar on the Register. GFAA has not taken advantage of this, nor is there one on their website, or an invitation there to request one.

RESPONSIBLE PERSONS

No. of Australian charity directorships[xi]

Geoffrey DARR                                1

Monica DARR                                 1

Malcolm MACKELLAR                   1

Bryson THOMAS                             4 (three of which are for the same charity![xii])

  • This list matches the one on the website.
  • Is Malcolm Mackellar this one?
  • ‘Position’:
    • The Secretary, a position required by the GFAA enabling legislation, is not necessarily a member of the Committee – and therefore not necessarily a ‘responsible person’.
    • There is no position of ‘Public Officer’ in Queensland. (There is, for instance, in the ACT, but that person is not automatically a member of the committee.)
    • A Vice-President, a requirement of the constitution, is missing[xiii].
      • According to the website, the appointment is ‘pending’. In the meantime, GFAA is non-compliant with Missions Interlink Standards (4.2.4).
  • The constitution does not specify a minimum size for the management committee.
    • With four members – less if either or both of the Secretary and Public Officer are not members (see above) – the GFAA committee is smaller than usual for a charity with this level of revenue and responsibility.
  • On the presumption that Geoff and Monica Darr are closely related, it is questionable whether they should be on the committee together, especially when there are only two – maybe fewer – other members.
  • Although the occupations of the directors are not shown on the website, we know from elsewhere – see the list above – that three of the four work for GFAA. That leaves a maximum of one independent director. (And that one may live in the same city as the GFAA office.)
    • GFAA is therefore contravening Accreditation Standard 3, the requirement to “have a board structure that provides for a demonstrated satisfactory composition.’

(End of review of the ACNC Register information)

Latest financial report – detail

  • The directors don’t say why, for a professionally-managed organisation receiving $2.93 m from thousands of donors all over Australia, they can conclude that all current and prospective users of financial statements have the capacity to command the preparation of financial statements tailored to their needs.
    • This decision meant that GFAA could produce special purpose as opposed to general purpose financial statements, statements that did not need to comply with all the Australian Accounting Standards, and therefore could produce statements that the Australian standard setters have deemed not suitable for those people who rely on GFAA’s financial statements as their major source of financial information.
    • An example of the information that you might not get as a consequence is the relationship that GFA has with ‘related parties’.
    • This decision is not consistent with the Accounting Standards. GFAA is therefore contravening the Missions Interlink Standards (number 4.2) and Accreditation Standards (number 2).
  • There are a number of instances below where GFAA has contravened generally accepted accounting principles and practices and, as such, has contravened Mission Interlink’s Standard 4.2.

What was earned, what was consumed during the year – the Statement of Comprehensive Income (the second page of the Financial Report)

  • The line ‘Other comprehensive income for the year, net of tax’ is missing. (As it was last year).
  • The calculation of gross profit is part of a classification of expenses by function. However, GFAA immediately switches to a classification by nature of the expense, which is contrary to the Accounting Standards.

Where the money came from

  • Revenue $2.96 m (including Note 2)
    • The website uses the following categories under Donate/Ways to Give:
      • Tools for Missionaries
      • Major Ministries
      • Empower the Poor
      • From the Stable
      • Compassion Services
      • Women
      • Where Most Needed
      • Home Team
      • Manage Existing Sponsorship
      • Christmas Catalogue
    • These categories under ‘Sponsorship’:
      • Missionary Sponsorship
      • Sponsor a Missionary
      • Child Sponsorship
      • Sponsor a ChildWomen’s Ministry
      • Sponsor a Woman Missionary
    • And these under ‘Get Involved/My GFA’:
      • Start a Personal Giving Campaign
      • Have some fun and motivate your friend, all while changing the world.
      • Raise funds for Jesus (-) Wells, Water Buffalo and more.
    • However, despite a detailed breakdown of revenue in the Note, only three line items match the categories above. So it is not possible to see how much was raised in each category.
  • Cost of sales $1K
    • By definition, this is the cost of getting the goods into a condition ready for sale. Presumably the ‘goods’ are those that generated the ‘Merchandise sales’ below, in which case that is the only revenue from which this item should be deducted.
  • Gross Profit $2.96 m
    • The bulk of GFAA’s revenue is not the kind from which one normally deducts ‘Cost of sales’ to arrive at gross profit. The resulting figure therefore makes little sense.
  • In the Note (reordered by size)
    • The line items should be divided between ‘Sales revenue’ and ‘Other revenue’.
    • Native Workers fundraising program $1.34m
      • It is not possible to relate this total to the requests for money on the website.
    • Empower the Poor (‘Dalit Projects’ last year) $588K
    • Administration Revenue $398K
      • This unusual term is not explained.
    • Where Most Needed fundraising program $188K
      • GFAA says that, to allow it to send 100% of what is given towards sponsoring to the field, “Our administrative costs are covered through donations designated “Home Office” or sometimes “Where Most Needed”.
        • With ‘Home Office’ raising less than $1K (see below), ‘sometimes’ has become ‘most often’.
    • GFA Aid Developmental donations $154K
      • There is no explanation of this item.
      • If it refers to GFA Aid Australia Ltd, this company had ceased being a charity by the close of 2013-14.
      • ‘GFA Aid’ does not appear on the website.
    • The Bridge Sponsorship $49K
      • A search of the website reveals that this is the same thing as ‘Child Sponsorship’, above.
    • Walk administration $7K
      • This unusual term is not explained.
    • Home Office fundraising program $260 (i.e. less than $1K)
      • How does this relate to (a) ‘Home Team’ as a giving option, and (b) ‘Home Team Support’ below?
    • Education fundraising program $287K
      • It is not possible to relate this total to the requests for money on the website.
    • Home Team Support $221K
      • GFAA says that, to allow it to send 100% of what is given towards sponsoring to the field, “home office staff members raise their own financial support, which covers their salary and benefits”. Presumably this revenue is the money raised by these staff members?
        • If so, it is $6K short.
      • How does this relate to (a) ‘Home Office here, and (b) ‘Home Office fundraising program’ above?
    • Emergency Relief fundraising program $70K
      • It is not possible to relate this total to the requests for money on the website.
    • Social Justice fundraising program $11K
      • It is not possible to relate this total to the requests for money on the website.
    • Interest Received $11K
      • Why has this increased from almost nothing last year to $11K this year?
      • Why is there no difference between the accrual (Statement of Comprehensive Income) and cash (Statement of Cash Flows) amounts.
    • Health and Medical fundraising program $9K
      • It is not possible to relate this total to the requests for money on the website.
    • Merchandise sales – books and tapes $4K
      • Presumably this is the revenue from which cost of sales should be properly deducted?

Where the money went (reordered by size)

  • Donations $2.33 m (including Note 3) – Donations to field** $2.33 m
    • This comprises 87% of expenses.
    • The Financial Report doesn’t give any breakdown of this $2.33 m; therefore, as is the case for revenue – see above – it is not possible to relate the total sent to India to the categories on the website.
    • To whom is this money sent? The **note gives the answer:
      • Gospel for Asia (Australia) Inc. has an agreement with GFA India, a registered NGO in India, to distribute donations in accordance with the donors’ intent[xiv].
        • The name of the organisation is ‘Gospel for Asia’, not Gospel for Asia India. A small but important distinction. The first places it as a part of GFA headquartered in the US, the second as potentially a more independent entity.
        • The website of GFA in India – see their Facebook page for confirmation of the name – has been showing a ‘Maintenance. Please check back soon’ message for three now. But at the time of my last review it said that GFA in India was a ‘charitable trust’. The FaceBook page confirms this.
          • According to these two sources – persuasive but not authoritative – it is not compulsory, or even possible in some States, to register a charitable trust in India.
          • Maybe that is why the Facebook page does not mention registration, and is probably why I was unable to find an official listing of Indian charitable trusts on the internet.
    • The website confirms the claim that it is ‘GFA India’ that receives all the Australian money given for South Asia:
      • At regular intervals, funds as designated from donors and sponsors for supporting the goals and aims of the ministry in South Asia, are transferred directly from the Australian bank of Gospel for Asia (Australia) Inc, to the Indian based bank nominated by the administration of Gospel for Asia India.
    • Was the money received by ‘GFA India’? Assuming that GFA in India has complied with Indian law, the answer is given by inspecting a report that GFA India has to file with the Indian Government by 31 December each year.
      • Gospel for Asia in India has yet to submit that report[xv].
      • Last year, two transfers were made, totalling approximately $2.1 m. (The expense was $2.2 m, but without the exact transfer dates and translation rates, I couldn’t be more accurate.)[xvi]
        • With only two transfers, GFAA are open to the same finding as made by the ECFA: transfers were not frequent enough, ‘particularly given the urgent nature of many GFA gift solicitations’.
      • There is no record though of the $2.2 m sent in 2012-13. Or the money sent in 2011-12. Where did it go? Perhaps it went to Hong Kong?
        • Others have had the same problem tracing donations.
        • It’s all part of a much larger sum that is unaccounted for.
      • The 2013-14 donations might have gone to India, but only 48% went to GFA in India. 52% went to a church, Believers Church[xvii].
        • Since my last review, GFAA have, at least on their website, disclosed that “Gospel for Asia India is a ministry of the Believers Church.”
        • But this doesn’t explain why they have, quite contrary to any of the information given to Australian donors, sent over half of those donors’ money to a church. And all the money has ended up under the control of that church.
        • The money was donated for specific projects described as projects controlled by a ministry called Gospel for Asia (GFA); first they tell the donors that the money has been sent direct to a ministry in India without explaining the relationship between that ministry and Gospel for Asia; then it transpires that over half that money didn’t go to that ministry, but to the parent organisation in India, a church. And the other half is, indirectly, within the control of that same church.
        • But not to any church, but a church with practices, for instance ring kissing and a communion liturgy, that appear to be un-evangelical. And practices that, at least some donors who are donating to spread the Gospel may not be completely comfortable with, and which, when they came to light, contributed to the resignation of GFA board members, including a 30-year veteran.
    • Was the money used for the purposes for which Australian donors gave it? The **note again gives GFAA’s answer:
      • Gospel for Asia (Australia) Inc. has an agreement with GFA India, a registered NGO in India, to distribute donations in accordance with the donors’ intent.…All donations are transferred to the field through GFA International offices including a detailed breakdown of donations outlining how they are to be distributed.
        • One would be entitled to expect that use of the donations in India would match GFAA’s instructions for distribution, which in turn would match the donor’s intent. However, their use in 2013-14 for Australia didn’t match the giving options in Australia. The return filed with the government (see above) shows that the purposes of donations included
          • $488K for hospital construction
          • $138K for environment programs, and
          • $54K for the celebration of national events, none of which were a donation option on the website.
        • Here’s a list for all the monies from GFA worldwide. The divergence was significant enough in the US for it to be one of the reasons the ECFA had for terminating GFA’s membership.
      • The **note attempts to give donors confidence in the use of their donations in India:
        • GFA India is audited internally by certified auditors, and also by Indian Government auditors to ensure all funds received are used in accordance with the transfer details and directions sent by international offices.
          • This confidence is only warranted if (a) the ‘transfer details’ matched donor intentions – and the evidence from the ECFA is that they didn’t – and (b) the donors could rely on the auditors.
          • Internal auditors are part of management’s internal controls, so that’s good. But they are not independent, so give limited comfort to Australian donors.
            • Do they really mean internal auditors?
            • Indian government auditors? Are they the ‘independent authorities’ referred to on the GFAA website?
              • The financials and operating practices of Gospel for Asia India are rigorously audited by independent authorities in India to confirm that funds are dispersed to the areas of ministry designated by the donors and sponsors of Gospel for Asia (Australia) Inc.
                • Note the assumption that the ‘transfer details’ (see above) exactly match the designation by the donors.
      • GFAA’s membership of Missions Interlink means that it has to (a) “ensure that (funds sent overseas) are used in a manner consistent with the charitable purposes of the Member” (Accreditation Standards) and (b) use “designated funds according to designated purposes” (Standards). The information presented above shows that GFAA is contravening these standards.
  • Employee Costs $227K (including Note 4
    • The item, according to the Accounting Standards, is ‘employee benefits’.
    • Given the evidence of more than 100 former GFA staff and leaders of a toxic culture in GFA in the US, almost entirely substantiated by an internal review by a GFA board member, one wonders how much of this culture affected, and continues to affect, Australia.
    • Wages $180K ($213K last year)
      • How did wages decrease, and significantly, when the number of employees increased (AIS 2014)?
    • Increase in employee entitlements $30K (zero last year)
      • With zero last year this appears to be more like the introduction of benefits, not an increase. An accounting policy change?
  • Other expenses $57K (including Note 6
    • Why did ‘Travel, accommodation and conference’ increase from less than $1K to $25K?
    • Why did ‘Bridge Marathon’ cost $15K this year compared to $4K last year?
  • General and administrative $32K (including Note 5
    • What is the difference between ‘Office expenses’ and ‘Office supplies’? Is this the reason why nothing was spent on the latter this year?
  • Advertising and promotion $19K
    • Missions Interlink Standards require that “All communications designed to raise funds shall avoid creating a false impression and be truthful as to fact, description and time frame” (Standard 3). Apart from the contravention in soliciting for one purpose then spending on another (see above), both the speed of sending donations and the speed of using them once they arrive do not match the sense of urgency for souls and needs painted in the promotional materials. (There is a good description of this issue in this article.) Standard 3 is therefore contravened.
    • GFAA says that ‘100% of all donations preferenced for use on the mission field are sent to the mission field’. But even if nothing is deducted from the donation in Australia before it reaches ‘the mission field’, are there any deductions in the spending country for overhead?
    • Even though GFAA claims that “Gospel for Asia has complete discretion and control over the use of all donated funds”, and all GFAA materials represent GFAA as an agent of GFA, we can’t answer the question from the GFAA accounts.
      • The research has been done though, and the answer is yes, deductions are made.
        • Missions Interlink Standard 3 (see above) is therefore contravened.
  • Rent $11K
  • Legal and professional costs $6K
  • Technology and communication $5K
  • Depreciation $3K

What’s left at the end of the year – the Statement of Financial Position (the third page of the Financial Report)

  • Current Assets $638K
    • It is unusual not to have any prepayments.
  • Cash Assets $636K (including Note 7)
    • This item should be ‘Cash and cash equivalents’. (This is acknowledged by the title of Note 1(d)).
    • This is 21% of Revenue. Why is so much held in cash?
      • GFAA’s Indian ‘partner’ also holds a lot of cash.
    • How can so much cash be held when 100% of donations (other than Home Team and some of Where Most Needed) are sent to ‘the field’?
  • Online Saver – Trust $234K (last year: $30K)
    • There is no mention of a current trust, either in the Financial Report or on the website.
      • What is the relationship between this trust and the small amount, unchanged from last year, held in the ‘GFA Trust account’[xviii]?
  • Inventories $2K (zero last year)
    • Why has this increased from zero last year to $2K this year? A mistake? A policy change? If so, has AASB 108 been followed?
  • Property, plant and equipment $6K (including Note 8)
    • The required reconciliation of written down values is missing.
  • Other creditors and liabilities $12K
    • Normally these are called ‘Trade and other payables’.
    • ‘Amounts withheld from salaries and wages’ $2K: there is no explanation for the unusual item.
  • Employee entitlements $30K (last year: zero)
    • Why has this increased from zero last year to $30K this year? A mistake? A policy change? If so, has AASB 108 been followed?
    • All employee benefits are expected to be settled within 12 months?

Where the cash came from and where it went to – the Statement of Cash Flows – the fourth page of the Financial Report)

  • Not all the receipts are from ‘donors’.

How the wealth of the charity has changed – the Statement of Changes in Equity (the fifth page of the Financial Report)

  • This uses an out-of-date format – instead of the second line it should show ‘Surplus after income tax expense for the year’ and ‘Other comprehensive income for the year, net of tax.’[xix]

Essential information to go with the figures – the Notes to Financial Statements (the sixth page of the Financial Report)

  • Note 1: Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
    • Missing from the first part:
      • The reason for saying that GFAA is not a reporting entity.
      • The Accounting Standards followed.
      • The functional and presentation currency used.
      • The date the statements were authorised for issue.
    • (a) Property, Plant and Equipment (PPE)
      • Missing: depreciation rate, review policy, derecognition policy
    • (c) Employee Benefits
      • Missing: short-term versus long-term, defined contribution superannuation expense
    • (e) Revenue and Other Income
      • There are no dividends shown in the financial statements.
    • (f)   Goods and Services Tax (GST)
      • Missing: receivables and payables, cash flows, commitments and contingencies.
    • (h) Comparative amounts: What is the relevance to these statements of the second paragraph?
    • Missing Notes:
      • New, revised or amending Accounting Standards and Interpretations adopted
      • Current and non-current classification
      • Fair value measurement
      • New Accounting Standards and Interpretations not yet mandatory or early adopted
      • Critical accounting judgements, estimates and assumptions
      • Trade and other payables
  • Note 11: Events Subsequent to Reporting Date
    • On the day that the Report was signed, 2 October 2015, the ECFA terminated GFA’s membership. Given that GFA was a charter member of GFA, GFAA is one of GFA’s ‘international offices’, GFAA exists to raise funds for GFA, termination was an unusual step, and that the investigation by the ECFA leading to the termination had been going on since 6 May 2015, it would be reasonable to expect a mention of at least the investigation in this Note.
  • Missing Notes:
    • Remuneration of auditors
    • Contingent liabilities
    • Commitments

Statement by Management Committee – the eleventh page of the Financial Report

  • This declaration does not comply with ACNC requirements.

An independent opinion on the financial statements: Independent Auditor’s Report (the twelfth page of the Financial Report)

  • In order to accept the engagement the auditor assessed the directors’ decision that GFAA is not a ‘reporting entity’ – and agreed with it. He therefore agrees that GFAA’s users (both existing and prospective) are able to command the preparation of a financial report tailored to their needs. This is implausible.
  • This is a ‘clean’ opinion. Read here and here to draw the right conclusions from this.

Membership of accountability organisations, claimed

  • Missions Interlink Accredited Member, here. Confirmed, here.
  • GFA as an ECFA Charter Member, here. Since 2 October 2015, no longer a true claim. On that date the ECFA– in a decision only taken with one other organisation in the prior three years – terminated GFA’s membership for non-compliance with not one (like the other organisation), but five of its Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™.
    • GFA also continued to claim membership after it was terminated (here, here, here).

 

(End of review)

 

 

 

[i] Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, Australia’s national regulator of charities.

[ii] In the US, GFA stopped responding to Warren Throckmorton on 7 May 2015, saying that responding had ‘become a distraction from our mission work’.

[iii] http://missionsinterlink.org.au/about/our-foundations

[iv] Associations Incorporation Act 1981 (Qld), www.legislation.qld.gov.au.

[v] One month earlier than last year.

[vi] Nor for GFA. There is one, however, for ‘a church that GFA is affiliated with on the mission field’.

[vii] From a search of the GFAA site.

[viii] More precisely, $2,960,388.96. Please GFAA, drop the cents in your figures!

[ix] This is how the ACNC explains ‘operating locations’ in their application guide: ‘You need to give details about where in Australia your organisation conducts (or plans to conduct) its activities.’

[x] There is a registration in Tasmania in the name ‘GFA Aid Australia’, one of the two charity registrations that GFAA revoked last year. There is no licence in WA – and no obvious reason to be exempt.

[xi] Because of the possibility of two (or more) directors having the same name on the register of responsible persons, it is not possible to be definitive about the number of directorships held.

[xii] Unchanged from my last review.

[xiii] Unchanged from my last review.

[xiv] One would be entitled to assume that this money went by the conventional route of a bank transfer. But following the revelation that GFA USA has been smurfing, maybe not?

[xv] To confirm go to this website, and select the year and Kerala as the State. (Based on last year’s submissions, the timing of its ubmission puts it in the last 26% of charities to submit their return.)

[xvi] With the recent revelation of a significant discrepancy between the US and Indian financial statements, it would be interesting to check the amount of the Australia contribution in the accounts of the GFA India and Believers Church.

[xvii] Unlike GFAA in Australia, GFA in the US is a ‘religious order’ – like the Jesuits, for instance, in Australia – and, like a basic religious entity in Australia, doesn’t have to file accounts.

[xviii] There is no explanation for the inclusion of ‘GFA Trust Account’. Presumably these monies belong to the GFAA charity The Trustee for Gospel For Asia Trust Fund. Registration was ‘voluntarily revoked’ on 30 June 2014, which means that it operated during 2013-14. The trustee was GFAA, and the deed requires audited financial statements, but there wasn’t last year, and still isn’t this year, any no mention of the trust anywhere in the GFAA material.

[xix] Unchanged from my last review.

1 Response

  1. admin 18/12/2015 / 9:25 am

    Whatever you decide about the connection between GFA and GFAA, the Believers Church considers that GFAA is one of its Mission Centers. That’s a strong relationship.

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