Missionary Ventures Inc.: charity review

Mini-charity review of Missionary Ventures Inc. (MV), an organisation that seeks donations online and is a member of Missions Interlink. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

For the previous review, see here.

Are they responsive to feedback?[1]

  • One of MV’s ‘core ideologies’ is that it ‘accepts nothing less than absolute accountability’.
  • Neither feedback nor complaints are mentioned on the website.
  • I sent them a draft of this review[1]. Unlike last year, they did not respond.

Is MV registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • MV is a Victorian incorporated association (No. A0035777A).
  • The name it uses on Facebook and its website (Missionary Ventures Australia), is registered. Not so the name on its other Facebook site.
  • MV operates, per the ACNC Register, only in Victoria. It says in the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2017 that it doesn’t fundraise, but that ignores the fact that they have an online invitation.

What do they do?

  • See here.
  • For the current suite of programs, see here.
  • MV operates, per the ACNC Register, in Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vanuatu.
    • Presumably this is where they go on ‘team trips’.
    • All these countries except Cambodia have MV ‘field associates and partners’.
  • This is what they did in 2017 (AIS 2017):
    • During the year we sent out 14 mission teams from Australian churches and schools (132 individuals in total) to engage in Activities in the Asia/ Pacific region. These teams helped encourage and support indigenous communities and churches in the Asia Pacific region. In doing so, these teams also provided the opportunity for individual participants to grow in their faith commitment . As an organisation we alsohelped to facilitate the distribution of 42 motorcycles to indigenous pastors and field worker engaged in disciple making. Throughout the year we also assisted with some aid support in Vanuatu and Fiji .

Do they share the Gospel[2]?

  • Only incidentally by people on the trips to Christian organisations.

What impact are they having?

  • Nothing systematic found.
  • There’s probably some anecdotal evidence under ‘News’ on the website, and on their Facebook page.

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

  • There is an expense called ‘Admin’, but it excludes ‘Rent’, ‘Compensation’, and ‘Other expenses’, expenses that are, at least in part, customarily included in ‘Administration’.

Do they pay their board members?

  • Such payments are not prohibited by the constitution.
  • The figure for ‘Compensation’ in the expenses is classified as ‘Employee expenses/payments’ in the AIS 2017.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • Although security is not mentioned on the first page, the second page goes to an invitation to use PayPal, so yes.

Is MV’s reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (four months after their year-end, two weeks later than last year).
    • But 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 seven months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2017: No
    • Five of the 14 figures in the ‘Income Statement Summary’ do not match those in the ‘Statement of Profit or Loss’.
    • No outcomes are given.
  • Financial Report 2017[3]: Yes
    • Because of its size (‘Small’), MV is not required to submit a Financial Report.  It has, however, chosen to submit one anyway.
    • Because it was a voluntary submission, the Report does not need to comply with the ACNC’s requirements.
    • But it does need to comply with the requirements of its own constitution. Which it doesn’t.
    • Nor does it comply with the requirements of its Missions Interlink membership.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • The surplus as a percentage of ‘Income’ was reduced from 10% positive to 4% negative.
  • Both short-term and long-term financial structure, based on the Statement of Financial Position submitted, are sound.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • Nothing – the review report is missing the second page.

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

  • No
    • ‘Who the Charity Benefits’ is blank.
    • MV also operates in the Northern Territory.
    • Is the ‘Responsible Persons’ section up-to-date?

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

  • See the drop-down box here.

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • This is not disclosed.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • On the website, these people.
  • On the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’) there is also Don Marshall, but no June Steward:
    • Matthew Gosbell
    • Rowan Jeffery
    • Don Marshall
    • Kevin Palmer
    • Phil Plowman
    • John Williams
    • There are 30 directorships recorded for the name ‘John Williams’.  And the register only covers charities, not all not-for-profits, and of course doesn’t include for-profit organisations.  Therefore, if after eliminating the charities for which MV’s John Williams is not a director, you are left with the total being more than a handful, it would be legitimate for you to question whether his ability to discharge his fiduciary responsibilities is threatened.  Especially if he has a full-time job.
  • The Board is responsible to the membership. The number of members is not disclosed.

To whom are MV accountable?

  • As a charity, to the ACNC.
    • The website displays the ACNC’s ‘Charity Tick’. The tick means that MV is a registered charity, its AIS is not overdue, and no compliance action has been take against it.
  • MV is also accountable to the Victorian regulator of incorporated associations.
  • Although not mentioned on the website, it is also accountable as a Member of Missions Interlink.

 

  1. 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].
  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.
  3. I use the Pinnacle Financial Statements, respected in the profession as providing a very sound basis for producing compliant financial reports. To this I add an assessment of materiality (both quantitative and qualitative), where the users being considered are donors.

 

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