Leading the Way with Dr. Michael Youssef Australia Limited: charity review

That’s the business of this charity – Biblical teaching broadcasts by Dr Michael Youssef.

Through these broadcasts, and an online invitation to give, the charity took in $2.29 million in donations last year[1].

They say that they have ‘a reputation for accountability’:

But both these organisations are American, and as the Australian charity is independent, this membership and this rating is of little relevance to Australian donors.

The charity is not accredited with the Australian body, the CMA Standards Council.

The usual disclosure about the members’ guarantee is lacking the number of members, so it is not possible to assess the accountability from this quarter.

As for the accountability on the staff, a board of six[2], when one of those six is the chief worker, another his wife, and a third the Regional Director Australia & New Zealand[3], and a fourth has been a director for 22 years, is open to question.

I sent a draft of this review to the charity. They did not respond.

The charities’ regulator, the ACNC, in their article, Donating to Legitimate Charities, gives “some things to consider to help you make sure your donation is going where it is intended”:

  1. Check the charity’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 ‘Leading the Way’ (LTW), with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[4].

1.  A search on the name ‘Leading the Way’ on the ACNC Register of charities leads to two charities:

That it is the second one[5] is confirmed by the website:

LTW has no business names registered, so it should not be trading under the name ‘Leading the Way’[6].

Although it is a registered Australian charity, the power of the US charity, Leading the Way with Dr Michael Youssef, Inc, to appoint a majority of the Australian board[7] means that it is controlled by the US charity:

2. There is nothing to indicate that LTW use third party collectors.

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 first ACNC article above]. There is a ‘SecureTrust’ logo two pages before you enter your information, but the certification is for the US organisation.

4. The Australian Business Register (linked from LTW’s ACNC Register record), says that the charity is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts[8].

However, this is contradicted on the giving page for one of the projects:

There is no explanation for this contradiction.

5. Objectives/Mission

Neither ‘mission’ nor ‘objectives’ are mentioned on the website. In the Director’s (sic) Report[9], in the Financial Report 2018, the ‘objectives’ of LTW are given under ‘Principal Activities’:

Activities

From the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2018:

Broadcasting the teaching of Dr Michael Youssef across Australia via various media platforms and raising support for various ministry activities.

There may be more in the Annual Report 2018, but the link from the ACNC Register is dead.

How this translated into dollars spent

The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report 2018 on the ACNC Register. However, there is a major issue with this Report: it does not report on all the results or position of LTW. The other charity above, Leading the Way Media Broadcasting Trust, is controlled by exactly the same people as those who control LTW, yet is not included with LTW’s results. ‘Donations and Sponsorships’, for instance, should be another $1.13 million (making the total over 100% higher).

It was not possible to even manually add the two sets of figures – the ACNC Register had a single page with the message ‘Placeholder file uploaded by administrator to fix error on form’ in place of the Financial Report 2018.

If you are still prepared to consider donating, here’s the audited figures for LTW’s spending (without the Trust) [10]:

No explanation is given for ‘Other expenses’, 38% of the total, nor ‘Project reserve expenses’, 13% of the total[11]. (There a ‘Detailed Profit or Loss Statement’, but it is unaudited, and because it uses a different classification of expenses, is of little help.)

The average full-time employee benefits was $68K [AIS 2018].

Outcomes/impact

No information found.

 

For more a more in-depth review, please contact me.

 

 

  1. They may be open to you volunteering, but they didn’t have any volunteers when they reported in their Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2018.
  2. I don’t believe that the Secretary is a ‘responsible person’.
  3. Here are the current ‘responsible persons’:Christopher MakinCraig GribbleElizabeth Youssef

    Graeme Blaiklock

    Michael Youssef

    Peter King

    Phillip Cave

  4. 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?Is the charity being transparent about its activities? [A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering].
  5. The inclusion of his name, done in 2000, is interesting given what what he says on the website:cid:image005.png@01D4E335.EEB26EB0
  6. Up until late 2000, its name was a little closer to the one that it uses now, ‘Leading the Way Australia Limited.’
  7. From the constitution, ACNC Register.
  8. LTW is, however, a ‘legitimate’ charity.
  9. Which is, like the Directors’ Declaration, unsigned. The latter is audited.
  10. It was not possible to see the expenses of the Trust – the Register had a single page with the message ‘Placeholder file uploaded by administrator to fix error on form’ in place of the Financial Report 2018.
  11. The single Note that is there provides no extra information.

 

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