OMF International: mini charity review for donors

There is a later review, published in November 2018.

Mini charity review of OMF International (OMF) as an organisation that seeks donations. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

Is OMF registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • Other registrations:
    • As a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
    • OMF operates – according to the ACNC Register – in all states, and has a public invitation to give. But it is only registered to fundraise in NSW.
      • The law in this area is not straightforward – is an internet invitation ‘fundraising’ for instance? – and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.

What do they do?

  • There is no explanation on the Australian page on the international website.
    • Ministry comment: ‘We bring the love of Jesus in all its fullness to the peoples of East Asia for the glory of God.’
    • 53% of the Australian expenses are ‘Transfers to other OMF Affiliates’.
      • Ministry comment: ‘OMF International – a Company registered in Australia – is a member of a global association of sending and receiving mission bodies – all generally known as OMF International. These transfers are allocations for Missionary Expenses and Projects that are incurred overseas, arising from donations made in Australia.’
  • This is what they say in their Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2015:
    • Through the training, sending and support of missionaries in both Australia and internationally.
  • 38% of the expenses go to the undefined ‘Members Expenses’.
    • Ministry comment: ‘Member expenses cover the costs of OMF Missionaries while they are deployed in Australia, and also for retirement savings and other matters relating to Australians working overseas. Overall, this would mean these costs are spent in Australia and Overseas for the support of Missionary activity.

Do they share the Gospel?

  • From their answer to the FAQ on tax deductibility, yes.
    • Can’t check the objects in the constitution because Schedule B has been omitted from the copy of the constitution lodged with the ACNC.
      • Ministry response: They sent me Schedule B. The third object is ‘To promote and teach the Christian religion and to advance and develop the Christian teaching to and evangelisation of persons outside Australia.’ (The ACNC Register has not been updated.)

What impact are they having?

  • No information found.
    • Ministry comment: ‘We have over 120 adults (and their children) supported through OMF International as they work amongst the peoples of East Asia.’
      • Reviewer response: this does not answer the question of impact.

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

  • It is hard to tell from the information given on expenses. ‘General & Administrative Expenses’ are 9% of expenses, but what are ‘Members Expenses’ and are ‘Resettlement Expenses’ indirect rather than direct?
    • Ministry comment: ‘I hope you can revise this comment based on the above information I have assisted with.’
      • Reviewer response: the comment is on what is available publicly, and that is unchanged.
      • Refer to the Ministry response under ‘What do they do?’ for an explanation of ‘Members Expenses’. The direct versus indirect question remains.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • For one-off donations, yes. (PayPal is used.)

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (lodged four and a half months after their year-end).
    • 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 nearly nine months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2015: Not quite. There are no outcomes given.
  • Financial Report 2015: Not quite
    • There are a number of Notes missing.
    • The Statement of Income and Comprehensive Income does not show Other Comprehensive Income, misclassifying ‘Adjustment to Fair Value of Investments’.
      • Ministry comment: ‘I would be interested in you sending me what notes are required.  We have worked within the standards advised by of our auditors, and work closely with them to determine what level of detail we are required to disclose.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • Last year’s deficit of 5% of revenue was turned around to a 3% surplus.
  • No obvious concerns about the financial structure.

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.

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

  • Yes

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

  • On the first page, either ‘Support Workers’ or ‘General Support’.
    • On the next page for ‘Support Workers’ name the worker.
    • On the next page for ‘General Support’:
      • ‘An OMF Project’
      • ‘An OMF Field’
      • The OMF Australia’s General Fund
        • On the next page for ‘An OMF Project’ choose from ‘Theological Education’ or ‘Other OMF Project’.
        • On the next page for ‘An OMF Field’, name the field.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Not shown on the website page, but from the ACNC Register:
    • James Becker
    • Edwin Brooke
    • Kenneth Coleman
    • Peter Denham
    • Jeannette Kuswadi
    • John Loxton
    • James Mills
    • Arul Niles
    • Lydia Tan
    • Thomas Tokura

To whom are OMF accountable?

  • Not claimed on the website, but they are, apart from being accountable to the ACNC, accountable as a Member of Missions Interlink.
    • Ministry comment: ‘We do feel we are also accountable to our supporters and in particular the churches who send us workers. “Not claimed on the website” seems a bit narky.  What goes onto a regulator’s website, and what we willingly share with the public who ask, could be different things.
      • Reviewer response: That OMF doesn’t claim the membership on its website is a statement of fact.
      • For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • When sent a draft of this review, they responded quickly. Their comments have been included above.