MMM Australia: mini-charity review

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

MMM is also an organisation that is connected, by the cross-directorship of John Peberdy, to Christian Ministry Advancement Ltd, the organization that is responsible for the CMA Standards Council’s ‘major new initiative, accrediting Christian organisations against a set of standards of good governance, financial oversight, and fundraising ethics.’

(For last year’s review, see here.)

Is it responsive to feedback?

  • When sent a draft of this review, on 31 May 2017, they…did not respond.

Is MMM registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
    • MMM is one of two members of an ANCN ‘reporting group’. The other MMM Build Pty Ltd (which is winding down).
    • They report as part of an ACNC ‘Joint’ reporting group (along with MMM Build Pty Ltd).
  • Other registrations:
    • As a public company (a company limited by guarantee).
    • MMM operates (per the ACNC Register) in five of the seven states that have a fundraising licence regime. It is not licensed in any of them. It is licensed in only its home state.  [Amended 24.06.17] (Even if exempt, it may be that a prominent website request for donations may also, for some or all states, be an argument for being licensed.)

What do they do?

  • ‘MMM is a mission organisation operating throughout Australia and our neighbouring countries. We support Christian ministries by providing building, maintenance and other practical services…We do this work through 4 legs of ministry:

Do they share the Gospel?

  • No.

What impact are they having?

  • There is no indication that they are even assessing their impact. (I searched for ‘outcomes’ too.)

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

  • From the classification of expenses used by MMM there is no clear way to even estimate this percentage.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No.
    • The ‘Donate’ page on the website says that
      • tax-deductible gifts can be made for special approved overseas projects through MMM International Development Inc and the MMM International Development Fund.’ However, this association was deregistered in January 2017.

Is their online giving secure?

  • PayPal is used, so yes.

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

  • Two are given:
    • the ongoing work of MMM’, and
    • MMM Fundraiser Development Projects’.
      • However, the ‘Donate’ button for his one leads to PayPal’s home page.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (three months after their 31 August year-end).
    • They report as part of an ACNC ‘Joint’ reporting group (along with MMM Build Pty Ltd).
      • The ‘Financial Year End’ is incorrect on the Register entry for the Group.
    • 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 nine in the past.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016 (for the Group): Not quite. No outcomes are reported.
  • Financial Report 2016 (for the Group): Questionable:
    • Do the directors realise that, by saying that “there are no users who are dependent on its general purpose financial statements”, they are also effectively saying that all current and prospective donors, staff and suppliers can command the preparation of a report tailored to their needs?
    • Earmarking funds for a future use (‘Special projects, Note 1(o)) does not meet the definition of a liability (‘Other current liabilities’ $24K).
    • Not recognising the surplus or deficit on the projects completed by ‘work parties’ in the ‘statement of comprehensive income’ is not consistent with the Accounting Standards (Note 1(p)).
    • The expected loss on a contract is questionable as a liability (‘Provision of onerous costs’ $61K, Note 1(q)).

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • The Group’s deficit as a percentage of revenue increased markedly, from 8% to 56%.
  • Financial structure, both short-term (working capital) and long term (debt versus assets) appears to be sound.

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.
    • But he agrees with the directors’ decision – see ‘Does their reporting..’, above – that the lower standard special purpose financial statements are appropriate.

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

  • Almost. It is missing information under ‘Other Name(s)’.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Per the website, these people:
    • Roderick McGarvie
    • Melanie McGrice
    • John Peberdy
    • Shane Prior
    • Matthew Smith
    • Dale Richardson
    • Which probably means that they are well overdue in amending the listing on the ACNC Register (‘Responsible Persons’) to include Dale.
    • John Peberdy is a director of Christian Ministry Advancement Ltd, the organization that is introducing a ‘major new initiative, accrediting Christian organisations against a set of standards of good governance, financial oversight, and fundraising ethics.’
    • There are 14 directorships recorded for the name ‘John Peberdy’. And the register only covers charities, not all not-for-profits, and no for-profit organisations. Therefore, if after eliminating the charities for which John 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.

To whom is MMM accountable?

  • Although they make no mention of it, they are, apart from the ACNC, accountable because of their membership of Missions Interlink.