MAF Australia: mini 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The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has since been superseded.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 January 2018, and come back to this one as needed.

Originally published 22 August 2016.  Updated today for the expressions now used for some matters.  Nothing of substance changed.

Mini charity review of MAF Australia as an organisation that seeks donations. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.

Is MAF Australia registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • Other registrations:
    • As a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
    • Of the seven states in which it operates and which have a fundraising licence regime, MAF Australia is license in only Tasmania and Queensland.
      • The law in this area is not straightforward – is an internet invitation ‘fundraising’ for instance? – and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.

What do they do?

  • ‘Sharing God’s love through aviation and technology. We aim to mirror the love of Jesus in everything we do. He cared for people physically and spiritually, meeting the needs of the people around Him, regardless of who they were’ [‘Our purpose’].

Millions of people cannot access basic medical care, clean water, schools or receive the Good News of God’s love, simply because it’s too dangerous or time-consuming to reach them. We provide flights for 2,000 aid, development and mission organisations to enable them to transform lives. It’s a great partnership – and you can help make it possible’ [‘How we help’].

Do they share the Gospel?

  • No, this is not part of their mission (or objects in the constitution). They define ‘witness’ (one of their six values) as ‘Christ-like behaviour’.

What impact are they making?

  • ‘Impact’ is one of their values – ‘We value ministry that transforms lives and multiplies the effectiveness of those we serve, seizing opportunities to serve the living God in a fast-changing world’ – but there’s no information on the website about that impact.

What do they spend outside the costs directly incurred in delivering the above impact, that is, on administration?

  • 41% of expenses.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No, not to MAF Australia[1].
  • But you can if you donate to either of its subsidiaries, MAF Assist and MAF Aid Fund.
    • However, there is no provision for choosing between the three entities on the website. They are not even mentioned[2].
    • Although there are references to MAF Aid Fund on the website, there are none to MAF Assist.

Is their online giving secure?

  • Eway and PayPal are used, so yes.

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

  • Multiple. I found it somewhat confusing.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (and although six months after the year end, not late).
    • But if you are considering a large donation, I would ask for more up-to-date financial information – the accounts were signed in April 2016 for a year ending on 31 December 2015.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2015: Not quite.
    • No outcomes are reported.
    • Their statement that they had no reporting obligations to state fundraising authorities is contradicted by the inclusion of Note 14 to the statements (and the audit report).
    • There is big mismatch between the number of countries shown on the website (nine) and the number on the Register (one).
  • Financial Report 2015: Questionable.
    • $504K of grants from associated companies has been incorrectly excluded from revenue.
    • It appears that the accounting for the $2.21 m venture with another charity in Cairns does not comply with the Accounting Standards. (There is no policy note.)

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • Apart from the unclear effect of the major investment in a joint venture (see above), there is nothing obvious of concern.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • He gave a ‘clean’ opinion. To take the right amount of comfort for this finding, please read here and here.
    • He accepted, without comment, the two policies described under Financial Report 2015, above.

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

  • Yes, all except an overdue need to select an ‘Entity subtype’ on one of the three charities and the absence of entries for ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’ on two of them.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • The Notes to the accounts give no cause to believe that MAF Australia is controlled by another entity, so the board – subject to the members in general meeting – are in charge.
    • There is no reference to the board on the website but when they lodged their AIS 2015 in June 2016 they said that the list under Responsible Persons on the Register was in each case correct.

To whom are they accountable?

  • Apart from the ACNC, they are a Member of Missions Interlink.
    • For one opinion on the strength of that accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • When sent a draft of this review, they sent this response:
    • Thank you for your contact prior to publication in your blog.  We appreciate that you are undertaking the review of charities in the public interest and note your comments.  We will have these in mind as we prepare for the 2016 year end and in our regular reviews of statutory compliance obligations.  Thanks again for your input.

 

  1. Click on the ABN number in the Register entry.
  2. Although there are references to MAF Aid Fund elsewhere on the website, a search gives no hits for MAF Assist.

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