Mission Enterprises (Victoria) Limited: mini-charity review

The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has been superseded.  Please start with the updated review published in July 2018, and come back to this one as needed.

Mini-review of Mission Enterprises (Victoria) Limited (MEV) as an organisation that seeks donations online[1], and is a member of Mission Interlink. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

For the previous review, in the name Entrust Foundation, see here.

Are they responsive to feedback?[2]

  • I sent them a draft of this review. Unlike last year, they did not respond.

Is MEV registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • The website is in the name Entrust Foundation, one of MEV’s business names, and a charity itself, The Trustee for Entrust Foundation (The Trustee).
    • The Trustee is a public ancillary fund (and therefore can accept tax-deducible donations). Its trustee is MEV.
    • The Trust is not mentioned on the website. Nor is the fund.
  • The other business name is Entrust Projects.
    • In answer to a FAQ, ‘What is Entrust’s Legal Status?, MEV says that
      • Entrust Projects is for donations that do NOT require a tax receipt. Both funds are subject to external audits, ATO (Australian Tax Office) and ACNC (Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission) regulations and report to the Board of Mission Enterprises (Vic) Ltd.
        • No, Entrust Projects is not subject to this accountability. It is not even a separate entity – it doesn’t even have an ABN – so any accountability is merely part of the accountability that applies to the owner of the name, MEV.
        • The only references to Entrust Projects other than the above, are its use as the organization to contact (on the ‘Contact’ page), and a request for non-tax-deductible donations to be made payable to Entrust Projects.
        • No, Entrust Foundation is not subject to this accountability either. The Trust does have to produce audited accounts, but because of its size, they do not have to be lodged with the ACNC.
  • Don’t confuse MEV with two other charities, Mission Enterprises Blackburn Ltd, and Mission Enterprises Limited.
    • There is a director with the same name as one of the MEV directors, Stuart Brown, serving on the board the second charity. Is there an official connection?
  • Apart from The Trustee, MEV controls another charity, ME Foundation for Aid & Development (MEF).
    • This charity is only mentioned twice on the website, once to describe it as ‘our umbrella Public Benevolent Institute (sic), and once to announce its formation and saying that ‘It operates under the name of Entrust Foundation, overseeing all our projects…’
      • It is MEV and The Trust that should be operating under the name Entrust Foundation, not MEF.
    • Why is MEF not registered for GST?
  • MEV recently formed a ACNC joint reporting group, Mission Enterprises (VIC) LTD_ACNC Group. It includes MEV and MEF, but not The Trustee. Why not?
  • MEV is a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
    • It has the provisions in its constitution to trade without ‘Ltd/Limited’ at the end of its name.
  • It operates, per the ACNC Register, only in Victoria. It does not have a fundraising licence there.
  • It has an internet invitation to donate. It does not have a fundraising licence in any of the other states that have a licensing regime applicable to charities[3].

What do they do?

  • ‘Entrust is about identifying and funding projects that bring transformation to individuals and communities in the developing world amongst the poor and oppressed…We work closely through in-country implementing partners who identify, manage and report on our projects.  These partners and projects are spread across fifteen under-developed nations and Australia.  We cover the costs of doing this from our own resources, so 100% of donor’s money goes directly to the project! [About Us].
    • These projects are not conducted by MEV, but by its two subsidiaries. Why then are their transactions included in MEV’s accounts when the two charities are not consolidated with MEV?
  • See also the next question, below.
  • Here are the current projects.
  • For what was done in 2016, see the ‘Year in Review 2015-16’.

Do they share the Gospel?[4]

  • Not according to information on the website.
  • The constitution says that MEV’s charitable purpose is ‘to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in culturally relevant ways.’. It goes on to say that ‘This is achieved by providing expertise, resources, people and finance for in-country organisations who follow the teachings of Jesus…’ (paragraph 6).

What impact are they having?

  • They write reports on the projects (titled either ‘Completion Report’, ‘Impact Report’, ‘Progress Report or ‘Project Report’).
    • You can see them all by searching for ‘impact’ using ‘site:entrust.org.au impact’ in Google.
    • Here’s an example of what they mean by impact:
      • “Our partners conducted an end-of-project survey in May 2017 to measure the impact the project interventions have had in the community. It said, “The results showed a decrease in time to fetch water and a reduced incidence of water borne diseases due to the new water points namely, the protected well and the water harvesting structure. There has been a marked impact in terms of water supply as 51% used to get water from the river but now only 16% are still practicing this. Less time (30 minutes to 1 hours) is taken to fetch water whereas in previous times it would take up to 6 hours to get water.”

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

  • If we define ‘direct’ as the item ‘Donations to projects, ‘administration’ was 31% of expenses.
    • They claim that no donations are used for these expenses:
      • We work closely with in-country implementing partners who identify, manage and report on our projects.  These partners and projects are spread across fifteen under-developed nations and Australia.  We cover the costs of doing this from our own resources, so 100% of donor’s money goes directly to the project! (emphasis in original)
        • This claim doesn’t fit with
          • the Chairman thankingthose who again have assisted in underwriting some of our administration costs…’ These are donations as much as any other donations, and there is only one line item for donations in the Notes to the Financial Statements (Note 2).
          • The statement that ‘Where a tax deductible (sic) receipt is given, there is a small charge to cover the direct cost of government compliance.
      • Revenue other than donations totaled $619K this year, easily covering administration expenses of $390K.

Do they pay their board members?

  • Such payments are prohibited by the constitution.
  • The disclosure of expenses is insufficiently detailed to allow the question to be answered.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No, not to MEV.
  • But you can if you donate to one of the two charities it controls.
    • All the projects on the website are ‘tax-deductible’. They are therefore not MEV projects.
    • However, when you donate to one of the projects, the charity to which you are donating is not mentioned. It appears that this is because all the money goes to MEF ‘our umbrella Public Benevolent Institute (sic).
      • Why are MEF’s donations shown in MEV’s accounts even though MEF is not consolidated with MEV?

Is their online giving secure?

  • PayPal is used, so yes.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (but although they were given seven months to report, they were, like last year, still a week late.)
    • If you are considering a large donation, I would ask for more up-to-date financial information – the accounts are for a year end that is now over 17 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016: No
    • Their two business names are missing.
    • The figure for ‘Donations and trust distributions’ is used for ‘Donations and bequests’.
    • The total of ‘Investment capital gains’ and ‘Other revenue’ is used for ‘Other income…’.
    • No outcomes are reported.
  • Financial Report 2016: No. Like last year,
    • The two subsidiaries are not consolidated, that is, included in MEV’s accounts.
    • It is the two subsidiaries who give tax-deductible donations. And therefore, the charities that run the projects. Why then, when MEV doesn’t consolidate these two charities, are the figures for the projects included in MEV’s accounts?
    • With the number and breadth of stakeholders that MEV has, the directors’ decision to produce the type of financial statements that don’t comply with all the Accounting Standards, because ‘there are no users who are dependent on (MEV’s)…general purpose financial reports’ is not supportable.
    • There is still no explanation for the very large holding of listed investments and managed funds.
    • There are many other questions that could be asked about the accounts. Email me if you are interested.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • Because of what is reported above, no comment.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

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

  • MEV: Almost – its two business names, Entrust Foundation and Entrust Projects are missing.
  • MEF: No
    • Entrust Foundation is still incorrectly included under ‘Other Name(s)’.
    • ‘Size of Charity’ is still blank.
    • ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’ are blank, but these are not compulsory.
  • The Group: No.
    • ‘Who the Group Benefits’, ‘Size of Group’, Operating State(s)’, and ‘Operates in (Countries)’ are blank.
  • The Trustee: No
    • It still hasn’t selected an ‘Entity Subtype’.
    • Entrust Foundation is incorrectly included under ‘Other Name(s)’.
    • A PO Box is included instead of a street address.

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

  • Apart from ‘General Entrust Foundation’ you can choose from 37 projects (down from 61 last year), each of which can be also be reached by selecting from countries (16) or ‘causes’ (five).

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • This is not disclosed.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

To whom are they accountable?

  • To the ACNC.
    • Its ‘Charity Tick’ is used on the website (in the footer) in support of you giving to them.  And rightly so, because it would be unwise to give to a charity that is unregistered.   The ‘tick’ also means MEV’s AIS is not overdue, and no compliance action has been take against it.
      • But it means no more than this.
  • Although they don’t mention it, MEV is a Member of Missions Interlink.
    •  See the section Activities in this review for one opinion on the strength of this accountability.
  • As a company, MEV is also accountable to ASIC.

 

 

  1. On a website in the name Entrust Foundation. Entrust Foundation is one of the business names of MEV (and one of MEV’s subsidiaries).
  2. I agree with Randy Alcorn [Money, Possessions, & Eternity, Tyndale, 2003] when he says that ‘Any Christian leaders who resist financial accountability make themselves suspect.’ [page 425]. With MEV, there is an encouraging statement in a FAQ: ‘We encourage you to bring your complaints to us – we view them as an opportunity to learn and improve.’
  3. The law in this area is not straightforward and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.
  4. “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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