Missionary Ventures Inc.: 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The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has been superseded.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 August 2018, and come back to this one as needed.

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]

  • I sent them a draft of this review. They responded quickly, and the result of the subsequent conversation is included below.

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, Missionary Ventures Australia Short Term Mission Trips.
  • MV operates, per the ACNC Register, only in Victoria. It doesn’t have a fundraising licence there.
    • Ministry comment: (They believe that they are exempt because they receive less than $10K p.a. from fundraising.)
      • They only operate in Victoria and reported $153K in donations in the AIS 2016.
  • It has an internet invitation to give. It doesn’t have a fundraising licence in any of the other five states that have a licensing regime applicable to charities.
    • Ministry comment: ‘To my knowledge it is not as we only conduct business out of Victoria.’
    • Apart from exemptions, whether it needs such a licence in a state depends on (a) whether fundraising is part of what MV does in that state, and (b) whether that state thinks that MV, by calling for donations publicly, is ‘fundraising’ in their territory.
  • MV operates, per the ACNC Register, in Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vanuatu. These are where they go to on ‘team trips’.
    • All these countries except Cambodia have MV ‘field associates and partners’.

What do they do?

  • Under ‘About Us’/ MVA’s Purpose’:

  • See here for their current ‘Projects and Causes’.
  • They work with ‘field associates and partners’.
  • What they did in 2016 (AIS 2016):
    • Sent out and facilitated Church (sic) teams and School (sic) teams to encourage national churches, schools and other Christian organisations

Does MV share the Gospel?[2]

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

What impact are they having?

  • Nothing systematic found.
    • Ministry comment: MVA aids in the distribution of motorcycles in Partnership with Christian Motorcyclist Association USA – part of the stats we supply to CMA includes Salvations (sic) in each country where bike (sic) are distributed, last year we distributed 42 Motor (sic) cycles to assist pastors in spreading the Gospel. Our field coordinators and associations are actively involved in evangelism . The teams we send out will always support and encourage indigenous church leaders in the proclamation of the Gospel’
  • There’s probably some anecdotal evidence under ‘News’ on the website, and on their Facebook page.
    • Ministry comment: I hope so. Many times we do not communicate this as we are partnering countries which prohibit these activities.

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

  • The expenses are not classified to allow this calculation.
    • Ministry comment: Major expenses include rental, registration fees, accountancy and travel costs – which support does not cover’

Do they pay their board members?

  • Such payments are not prohibited by the constitution.
    • Ministry comment: ‘Correct’
  • $5K was paid for ‘Director Compensation’.
    • Ministry comment: I work 35-5- (sic) hours per week as CEO and as a volunteer from MVA, and so do our two other office volunteers – compensation paid would be to cover some personal expenses incurred. We are looking for more volunteers. ? (sic)’

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • PayPal is used, so yes.

Is the Group’s reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (three and a half months after their year-end, a month 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 11 months ago.

Does the Group’s reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016: No
    • The number of employees shown is zero yet there is a figure for ‘Employee expenses/payments’.
      • Ministry comment: No paid Employees – Just volunteers (sic)’
    • ‘Donations and bequests’ doesn’t match anything in the Profit & Loss.
    • Is zero for ‘Grants and donations made…’ correct?
    • No outcomes are given.
  • Financial Report 2016[3]: Yes
    • Because of its size (‘Small’), MV is not required to submit a Financial Report.  It has, however, chosen to submit one anyway.
      • The charity also sent me, for use in the review, their Independent Auditor’s Review Report…’
    • Because it was a voluntary submission, the Report does not need to comply with the ACNC’s requirements.  (And it doesn’t.)
    • As a Victorian incorporated association, MV is required to prepare financial statements that comply with the Accounting Standards[4]
    • The Report that MV says, in the AIS 2016, was submitted to the Victorian regulator consists of a single statement, Profit & Loss. It is therefore grossly deficient.
      • Even the Profit & Loss is far short of what is required by the Accounting Standards.
    • The Financial Report is also non-compliant with the requirements of MV’s own constitution.
    • And even with the inclusion of the Independent Auditor’s Review Report, it is questionable whether it meets the standards of Missions Interlink. These require that MV
      • have available for its members and supporters a clear and appropriate financial statement which has been approved by its auditor [Standards Statement, 4.1].

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • Because of what is reported in the section immediately above, no comment.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • NA

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

  • Yes (unless Rowan Jeffrey should be included as a ‘responsible person’.

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

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • This is not disclosed.
    • Ministry comment: See above general donations. What donations go towards donors (sic) requests. They go into places like – Malaysia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Indonesia, Philippines – I can assure you no on (sic). Funds usually go via our field associate for disbursements

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • On the website, these people.
  • On the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’) there is also Don Marshall:
    • Matthew Gosbell
    • Rowan Jeffery
    • Don Marshall (Is it this Don Marshall?)
      • Ministry comment: Don Marshall was added in October 2017 (special meeting) . Sorry website not updated as yet’
    • Kevin Palmer
    • Phil Plowman
    • June Steward
      • And not on the board since July 2016 per her LinkedIn profile.
    • John Williams
    • There are 29 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.
    • Ministry comment: Membership is limited to board members – has been that way since inception in 1999’

To whom are MV accountable?

  • One of MV’s ‘core ideologies’ is that it ‘accepts nothing less than absolute accountability’.
    • Ministry comment: (we try)’
  • It is accountable, as a charity, to the ACNC.
    • The website sports 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.
  4. MV is required to prepare financial statements that give a true and fair view of its financial performance and position during and at the end of the year’, and contain
    • income and expenditure (Income Statement) for your association’s financial year
    • assets and liabilities (Balance Sheet) at the end of its financial year
    • other documents required by accounting standards, such as a cash flow statement
    • notes to the account, which must include:
      • information required by the accounting standards
      • information necessary to give a true and fair view
      • information required by the provisions of the Act and its regulations. 

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