Missions Interlink: charity review

Missions Interlink’ is a Christ-centred organisation, “the Australian network for global mission”. Although it calls for donations (see below), it is of more interest because it has a regulatory regime for its (Christ-centred) members. This is required because it offers its Members income tax exemption when they would not otherwise be eligible:

These Members, along with the lower-level members (called associates), have to accept a set of standards[1], so we would expect no less of the organisation itself. The introduction to the standards includes this statement:

http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-20.png

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

There are only 12 members, six of whom are the directors [Board of Management Report, Financial Report 2018]. So there’s little accountability here.

Donations

Missions Interlink invites[2] its members, at the time of paying their annual membership fees, to donate to cover the 50% of its expenses that are not covered by those fees:

$108K was received in 2018 [Financial Report 2018].

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 ‘Missions Interlink’[3] (MI), 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 ‘Missions Interlink’ on the ACNC Register of charities leads to four charities:

The only one that is still registered, Australian Evangelical Alliance Incorporated, comes up because ‘Missions Interlink’ is recorded under ‘Also known as’ on the Register. MI has registered ‘Missions Interlink’ as a business name (twice). And a number of other business names[5].

2. There is nothing to indicate that MI use professional 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 ‘Powered by Stripe’ logo at the bottom of the page on which you enter your information, but the logo is not linked to any information.

4. The Australian Business Register (linked from MI’s ACNC Register record), says that the charity is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts[6]. MI is, however, a ‘legitimate’ charity.

5. Objectives/Mission

Neither ‘mission’ nor ‘objectives’ are mentioned on the website. In the Board of Management Report, in the Financial Report 2018, the ‘object’ of MI is given under ‘Principal Activities’[7]:

[8]

Activities[9]

From the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2018[10]:

AEA MI have linked, equipped, served and represented organisations and churches across Australia to help them to engage more effectively in cross-cultural and global mission.

For more detail, see the Missions Interlink Annual Report 2018[11].

In March 2018, this was what was expected of the incoming National Director:

Although it is not made explicit in the ACNC material, the National Director ‘Opportunity Profile’ (created March 2018), shows that the focus of these activities is the MI members:

How this translated into dollars spent

The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report 2018 on the ACNC Register[12]. As one of the 145 members, can you ring MI’s office and request that they prepare financial statements that answer the question or questions you have about the charity? (The same question applies if you are one of the 407 staff [AIS 2018] and you are interested in checking out the organisation for whom you are working). I don’t think so. But the directors[13], with the agreement of the auditor (Matthew Hung, CA, rdl.accountants), say that you can:

So, the financial statements have not been drawn up to suit you.  Why, then, would you rely on them?

Even in the absence of this problem, there is a major question mark about the financial statements. 46% of the revenue, $512K, comes from a single item ‘’Other income – contributions from state branches on consolidation’. But there is no explanation of this item. The state branches still exist, and the accounts are for an individual entity, not a consolidated entity:

To add to the confusion, Note 14 shows that MI paid for the audit or one or more ‘subsidiaries’[14].

If you are happy to still consider donating (or volunteering), here’s what the financial statements say about where the donations went last year:

No further information is given about any of these items.

The average employee receives $66K in benefits [AIS 2018].

Outcomes/impact

No information found.

 

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

 

 

 

  1. MI considerthe implementation of Member Accreditation for compliance with standards’ as one of their achievements over the last 10 years. Other than getting the member to sign that they have adhered to the standards, there is no evidence of any compliance activity.
  2. Put this in your browser: site:missionsinterlink.org.au associate fees.
  3. See here for the previous review.
  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. Not only does it have other business names, but it has them spread across four entries in ASIC’s register:The third one is the one that holds the ‘Missions Interlink’ business name:

    The names in the other three entries are ‘Prime Timers’, ‘Christian Tucker – Just Tucker’, and ‘Christian Tucker – Just Tucker’ again.

  6. The section ‘Business name(s)’ is missing at least two names. As is the AIS 2018.
  7. This is substantially the same as clause 2 of MI’s Rules (its governing document).
  8. MI is not auspiced by AEA. It is AEA. There is no separate organisation Missions Interlink. It is a business name held by AEA.
  9. Although MI says, on the ACNC Register, that it operates in all states except the ACT.
  10. Lodged nearly three months later than the AIS was lodged last year.
  11. This was not lodged on the ACNC Register.
  12. The AIS shows that this was not lodged with the state regulator. This is because the law changed recently.
  13. All the directors are either a director or a senior executive of Christian charities that I have reviewed:Glenda de Jager: Secretary of the Board and National Director,Mukti AustraliaJohan Linder: Executive Director, OMF International

    Judith Kay: Church and Community Coordinator, Interserve Australia

    Omar Djoeandy: (ex-?) National Director, SIM

    Richard Dickens: Board Chairman, EA Foundation

    Sandra Punithan: Head of Finance, Pioneers of Australia

  14. With ‘Audit services – rdl.accountants including ‘preparation of the financial statements’ as well as ‘audit of the financial statements’, you could legitimately ask MI how their auditor maintained their all-important independence.

 

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