Northpointe Baptist Church Incorporated: charity review

This is a charity review of Northpointe Baptist Church Incorporated (NBC), an organisation that has a public invitation to give. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

Conflict of interest

I am an active participant in the community that, many years ago, chose to incorporate as NBC.  However, neither myself nor my wife are, nor do we intend to become, members of the legal entity. Some conflict of interest remains though, so I have been careful to review this charity in the same way as I have reviewed every other charity.

Is it responsive to feedback?

  • There is no invitation, on the website, to submit feedback or complaints.
  • Accountability is not mentioned on the website.
  • I sent them a draft of this review. Here is their response:
    • Thanks for performing a charity review of Northpointe.  It is extremely useful to have, and we will use it to guide is through making necessary changes to the way things are administered, recorded and reported.  The church strives to be transparent and accountable in everything that is done.
    • They also gave some feedback. This has been included below the applicable comment.

Is it registered?

  • Yes, as a charity.
  • NBC is an Australian Capital Territory (ACT) incorporated association (A 04911).
  • It operates, per the ACNC Register, in Australia only in that territory.
  • It holds no business names. It therefore should to ‘trade’ only under its full name. Not like it does on its website and on Facebook.
  • The ACNC Register says that it operates overseas only in Vietnam. But the website says otherwise:

  •  Ministry comment: ‘Regarding operating overseas, we do support missionaries overseas, but this was not included in last years (sic) report as we didn’t visit or engage in any “operational” support during the year.  Vietnam was outlined as a mission trip there (sic) was organised during the year.’
    • Reviewer response: Providing funds is an activity for ACNC purposes.
  • It has no fundraising licences. Whether or not it requires one in a state that has a licensing regime applicable to charities, depends on whether that state believes that an internet invitation to give qualifies as ‘fundraising’.

What does NBC do?

  • The usual local church things: see ‘Missions’, ‘Ministries’, and ‘Our Message’ under ‘About’, all on the home page.

Do they share the Gospel[1]?

  • Yes

What impact are they having?

  • No information found.

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

  • The expenditure is not classified to allow an estimate of this figure.

Do they pay their board members?

  • There is nothing to prohibit this in the constitution.
  • The financial disclosure doesn’t allow a check for such payments.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • It is not until the fourth page of the process that security is mentioned. And then in small print.
    • Stripe is used, so your payment should be secure.

Where were the (net) donations sent?

  • For only $12K of the $41K is this disclosed: ‘Manna (Vietnam Orphanage)’.
    • How does this relate to ‘GVI’ (above) and here?

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

  • ‘General Funds’
  • ‘Missions’
  • ‘GVI’
  • ‘Building Fund’

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (four and a half months after their year-end, three weeks later than last year).

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2017: No
    • The ‘Description of charity’s activities and outcomes’
      • is not about 2017 particularly, and
      • has no outcomes.
    • The ‘Accounting method…’ does not match the one that has been used.
    • ‘Donations and bequests’ does not match the figure in the Profit & Loss Statement.
    • There are again no figures under ‘Balance Sheet Extract’.
  • Financial Report 2017: Yes
    • But only because it has been voluntarily submitted to the ACNC, and voluntarily submitted reports do not need to comply with the ACNC legislation.
      • NBC’s doesn’t comply because it deviates materially from what is required by the accounting profession.
        • For instance, there are no Notes to the accounts or Directors’ Declaration, and there is significant confusion over the reporting framework.
    • The reviewer has also deviated materially from the requirements of his profession.
    • Ministry comment: ‘The committee will work to better understand and improve accounting practices’.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • 44% of the expenditure went on the one full-time employee (Annual Information Statement (AIS)2017).
  • The next highest expenditure was ‘Missions’ plus ‘Love Offering’, 28%.
    • Much more than this could have been given – NBC again has a substantial sum in the bank ($149K).
      • No explanation is given for holding such a large sum.
  • The only other figure greater than $5K was ‘Music Ministry’, $17K (11%).
    • This seems a disproportionately large amount.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • The auditor, Doug Burgess, Chartered Accountant, of BLM Accounting Services, concluded that
    • Based on our review, which is not an audit, nothing has come to our attention that causes us to believe that the annual financial report…does not present fairly, in all material respects, the Church’s financial position as at 30th June 2017 and of its financial performance for the year ended on that date in accordance with the Australian Accounting Standards as noted in note 1 (sic).
      • There is no ‘note 1’.
      • If not an audit why this stamp on the financial statements?

      • Under ‘Scope of Review’ he says that ‘With the exception of trade creditors the statements have been prepared on a cash bais (sic)’. This basis is not one that is recognised by the Standard-setters, and there is therefore no way that the statements ‘present fairly’ as he claims.
    • This review falls so far short of the accounting profession’s requirements for a review that it is difficult to have any confidence in his opinion.

If a (registered) charity, is their page on the ACNC Register complete / correct?

  • No:
    • A PO Box number is not a ‘street address’.
    • The constitution contains neither of the two clauses necessary to make NBC a not-for-profit.
    • ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’ are missing (but the ACNC says that neither are compulsory.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Per the website:

  • Which listing has little correspondence with what is shown on the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’):
  • Ministry comments: (1) ‘The committee is looking to have the web site better maintained and will aim have any needed changes incorporated. (2) There have been changes to the leadership team over the past few months and the web site update was missed.  Thanks for outlining that.

To whom is NBC accountable?

  • As a charity, to the ACNC.
  • And to the ACT regulator of incorporated associations.

 

  1. 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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