Hillcrest Christian College Limited: mini-charity review

Mini-charity review of Hillcrest Christian College Limited (HCC), an organization that is connected, through the cross directorship of Jame Lewis, to the CMA Standards Council, a body that accredits those organisations who pass its ‘Nine Principles of Ministry Accountability’. HCC is not accredited.

(Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • HCC does not invite feedback and complaints from other than students, parents and employees.
  • I sent them a draft of this review. They…did not respond.

Is HCC registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • HCC is a public company, a company limited by guarantee[1].
  • Although it does not have the provisions in its constitution to allow it to omit ‘Ltd’/‘Limited’ from the end of its name, it has Hillcrest Christian College registered as a business name.
  • HCC operates – according to the ACNC Register – only in Queensland.
  • Although it conducts fundraising, it doesn’t have a licence. Perhaps it believes that it is because it is a religious order, or because all fundraising is done by a parents and citizens association (two of the exemptions)?

What do they do?

  • See the video on the homepage, then ‘Our College’ in the main menu.

Do they share the Gospel?[2]

  • Yes. One of HCC’s ‘Cornerstones’ is ‘Evangelistic Outreach’:
    • The first cornerstone of the foundation is our belief that the College has a spiritual ministry to its students and an evangelistic outreach into the community. The most important subject that is taught every day is God and the most important book that is used is the Bible.

Our objectives are to be good stewards of the time that the Lord has given us, to minister to the children in the college, to bring each child to a personal saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and to train them in the fundamental truths of the faith.

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?

  • With $18.79 m expenses divided into only three figures (see below), there is no way of even estimating this.

Do they pay their board members?

  • This is not prohibited by their constitution.
  • There is insufficient disclosure of the expenses to check for a payment.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • Not to HCC, but the ABN record says that you can if you donate to either of its two funds, Hillcrest Christian College School Building Fund, or Hillcrest Christian College Ltd Foundation Scholarship Fund.
  • From the lack of mention on the website, though, it appears that neither are active.

Is their online giving secure?

  • NA – not offered.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (four months after their year-end; ten days earlier than last year).
    • But if you are considering a large donation, I would ask for audited financial statements (see below), and more up-to-date financial information – the accounts are for a year end that is now over 13 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016: No
    • ‘Type of financial statement’ and ‘Financial statement consolidated with more than one entity?’ are blank. Or is that a consequence of the ACNC’s special treatment of non-government schools (see below)?
    • No outcomes are given.
  • Financial Report 2016: Yes
    • The Register says that one was lodged but in fact it is a single sheet produced by the ACNC, not HCC, that says
      • The ACNC receives financial information for this school from the Department of Education and Training and publishes it in Section E: financial information of the Annual Information.
    • So not only no financial statements but no audit report. And this for a charity with revenue of $22.14 m. Contact the school if you want more.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • From the AIS 2016 (see above):
    • From government: $12.52 m.
    • Total revenue: $22.14 m.
    • Employee expenses: $12.35m. 66% of expenses.
    • Interest: $334K. 2% of expenses.
    • Surplus: 15% of revenue. Why is it this high?
    • Current liabilities are 1.4 times current assets. Not so good.
    • No non-current loans – why then the interest paid?
    • Long-term financial structure, because of $30.08 m in non-current assets (presumably mostly land and buildings), is sound.

What did the auditor say about the financial statements?

  • NA. The system of reporting for non-government schools like HCC effectively says to you, ‘Trust me’.

If a charity, is their information on the ACNC Register complete / correct?

  • Almost. ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’ are blank. (Neither are compulsory.)

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

  • NA – none sought

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • NA

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • The website says these people.
    • The introduction to the list says that there should be seven members, but then lists eight.
  • The ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’) has the addition of Jame Lewis, and doesn’t have Nadine Harvey and Alan King.
  • The directors are responsible to the members of the association. The constitution provides that they must be members of Reedy Creek Baptist Church. The number of members is not disclosed, so we cannot assess the accountability possible via the members.
  • It’s an unusual board though – itfollows a Carver Model of Governance.’

To whom are HCC accountable?

  • HCC does not mention accountability on its website.
  • It gets government funding, so there is accountability there.
  • As a charity, it is accountable to the ACNC.
  • As a company it is accountable to ASIC.

 

 

  1. Not, as they say on the ABN record, an ‘Other Incorporated Entity’.
  2. “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.

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