The Christian charity Praxeis: a review

The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has since been superseded.  Please start with the updated review published in October 2017, and come back to this one as needed.

This is a charity review, a review for those with an interest in the Australian charity Praxeis.

It is structured according to the charity’s entry on the ACNC Register, and its purpose is to supply some information extra to what is there, information that may be helpful in your decision about Praxeis.

It is up to you to decide whether any or all of the information presented here is what you need in order to make that decision, and whether you should seek any other information, either from the charity itself or from other sources.

Ministry response

Prior to publishing this review, I sent my observations to the charity, on 6 June 2016, and invited them to comment. They did not respond.

Organisation of this review

  • The first part of this review is organised according to the headings in the Register entry. This is how to use this section of the review:
    1. For each heading in the register entry, first read the information under that heading.
    2. Then check if that heading is included below. (Headings for which there is no comment are not included. This also applies to the information in the Financial Report.)
  • There is then a more detailed comment on the Financial Report.
  • Lastly, there is a section Membership of accountability organisations

Sources

  • ACNC Register (including links)
  • Google search on the charity’s name.
  • Praxeis website.
  • Facebook. No other social media presence found, including LinkedIn.
  • State government fundraising licence registers.
  • No reviews yet on Glassdoor.

REGISTRATION DETAILS

Entity Subtype

  • A subtype consistent with sharing the Gospel.
  • Sharing the Gospel is integral to the objects in the constitution:
    • The Company has been established to pursue the mission of the Church in making disciples of Jesus Christ under His headship and following his leadership and teachings…

CHARITY DETAILS

Legal Name

  • Praxeis is a company limited by guarantee. It is permitted to omit ‘Limited/Ltd’ at the end of its name.

Other Name(s)

  • No business names are held, so Praxeis must operate only under its legal name.

Charity ABN

  • Tax deductibility: No, you cannot claim a tax deduction for a donation to Praxeis.

Charity Street Address

  • This is the address of Crossway Baptist Church. That church describes Praxeis as ‘a mission arm of Crossway’ (see Related Parties, later.)
  • No postal address on the website.

Email

  • There is an alternative on the website: connect@praxeis.org.au.

Phone

Website

  • From the Google search: www.praxeis.org.au.

ANNUAL REPORTING

  • AIS 2015
    • This is Praxeis’s compulsory Annual Information Statement 2015 (AIS 2015).
    • It gives basic financial information. If you think that this might be sufficient for you
      • The statements are not general purpose financial statements, as stated here, but those where the assumption is that anybody interested in the charity can request a financial report tailored to their individual needs.
  • Financial Report 2015
    • The Report was signed three months after the year end.
    • It was then lodged four months after that, right on the last day permissible (and that was after a generous extension by the ACNC).
    • The coverage of finances in this review is left until the financial report proper (see Latest financial report – detail, below). (Go straight there.)

ABOUT THE CHARITY

  • Statement of Faith
    • Nothing on the website.
    • But in the constitution, as Schedule 1 (Charity’s Document (sic), below).

Date Established

  • No history found, either on the website or on the internet.

Who the Charity Benefits

  • Vision and Mission
    • Some of the ‘hubs’ have their own vision as well.
  • Activities (What did Praxeis do?)
    • In the AIS 2015:
      • The principal activities of the company during the financial year were sharing the Christian message of Jesus Christ in order to make disciples of Jesus Christ, training Christians to plant churches throughout Australia and the world, assisting the leaders of planted churches to run and grow the church and providing ongoing ministry training, mentoring and support for church ministers and leaders.
        • The lack of specifics means that we can’t tell whether this is particularly about 2015. (And the AIS 2014 is, without explanation, blank, so can’t be checked.)
  • Outcomes (What did Praxeis deliver?)
    • Praxeis did not respond to the request in the AIS for its outcomes.
    • Nothing systematic found.
  • Impact (How were people’s lives improved?)
    • Nothing systematic found.

Size of Charity

  • Praxeis is $219K short of the threshold for the next size, the largest (‘Large’)

Financial Year End

  • This means that the next financial report is due by 31 December 2016 – or 31 January if the ACNC give their usual extension (to all charities). Before that the financial information on the Register will be up to 18 months out-of-date.
    • You may therefore need to ask for more up-to-date information.

WHERE THE CHARITY OPERATES

Operating State(s)[1]

  • Praxeis has a fundraising licence in none of these five states. Nor in the two others that have a licensing regime.
  • Praxeis has a general appeal for donations under ‘Give’ in its main menu, and a specific request under one of the ‘hubs’.
    • Apart from exemptions, whether it needs a licence depends on whether it is ‘fundraising’ in those states in which it operates, and whether those states, and the others, think that Praxeis, by calling for donations publicly, is ‘fundraising’ in their territory.

Operates in (Countries)

  • This listing matches the information under ‘Hubs’ on the main menu.

CHARITY’S DOCUMENT (SIC)

  • An Annual Report/Review can be lodged on the ACNC Register, but Praxeis hasn’t done this.
  • Nor is there one on the website.

RESPONSIBLE PERSONS

No. of Australian ‘responsible person’ positions[2]

James Hall             This function was still not working at the time of publication

Francis Hoe

Xiaoyue, Jiang

David Lawton

Brett Mitchell

Dale Stephenson

  • Two of these directors are also directors of Crossway Baptist Church, a related party.
  • Unless Jiang, the Secretary, is a member of the board, he should not be included on the Register.
  • The makeup of the board has not changed since 5 October 2015 (assuming changes have been notified to the ACNC).
  • The directors are not shown on the website.

(End of review of the ACNC Register information)

Latest financial report – detail[3]

  • The directors’ belief that ‘a special purpose financial report’ is acceptable, a choice that allows them to make less than a full disclosure about Praxeis’s finances and operations, is implicitly a statement that any user is able to command the preparation of a financial report tailored to their needs. That’s all the people who they speak to around Australia and all the donors and potential donors who read the website material. Do the directors realise they are saying this?
  • The relationship between Praxeis and Crossway Baptist Church is close, and Praxeis acknowledges that the church is a related party, but the nature of the relationship is not identified.

The Directors’ Report (page 1 of the Financial Report)

  • This is not required by the ACNC. (Nor is the Auditors (sic) Independence Declaration on page 5 of the Financial Report.)
  • Strategy for achieving the objectives: These don’t fit with the objectives very well.
  • Performance measures: this is too generic to be of any help to the reader.
  • Members (sic) guarantee: This, in combination with the constitution, says that the six current directors are the only members of the company. Is this correct?
  • Information on directors:
    • ‘Special responsibilities’: these should not include roles outside the company.
    • The strong connection with Crossway Baptist church is confirmed in the Financial Report.
  • ‘Company secretary’ is normally a separate section.

What was earned, what was consumed during the year – the Statement of Income & Expenditure and Other Comprehensive Income (page 6 of the Financial Report)

  • Note 3 should be against ‘Surplus for the year’.
    • Two of the three expenses in Note 3 are already disclosed in the body of the report, and the third, audit, should be the subject of a separate Note later on.
  • Revenue increased this year by 17%; however Employee benefits expense increased by 40%.

Revenue

  • Revenue $780K, including Note 2
    • Presumably ‘General Donations’ means those given without designation, but this is only 2% of revenue. The meaning of the other donation line items is not explained.
      • $150K out of $780K revenue is too large for ‘Other’. Especially as it is not a one-off – even more was received last year.
    • ‘In-kind Rental Income’ is not explained. What is rented out?
    • Note 1 (i) reports that some of the cash given to ‘ministry staff’ may not have made it into the company’s bank account.

Expenses

  • This list mixes the two permissible classifications of expenses.
  • Two disclosures that you might want, administration expenses and fundraising expenses, are not disclosed.
  • Employee benefits expense $565K
    • If part-timers averaged 50%, and the one casual 10%, of full-time hours, this total represents average benefits of $45K p.a.
    • This is 82% of expenses.
    • The next largest expense, Ministry expense, is only 9% of total expenses.
  • Ministry expense $62K
    • The whole charity is a ministry, so what is this item?
  • Gifts and donation expense $6K
    • Presumably this represents donations made by Praxeis to others.
    • It represents less than one per cent of revenue.

What’s left at the end of the year – the Statement of Financial Position (page 7 of the Financial Report)

  • Cash on hand $218K, including Note 4
    • This should be ‘Cash and cash equivalents’.
  • Other financial assets $281K, including Note 5
    • The combination of these term deposits and ‘cash on hand’ represents seven months of revenue.
    • Why is it necessary to have investments with a maturity longer than three months?
    • The inclusion of the three month term deposit is contrary to the policy for Cash on hand (Note 1 (d)).
  • Other assets $16K, including Note 7
    • Given the level of investments and the size of the charity, this seems a large amount. And it is over three times as large as last year.
  • Provisions $17K (current), $34K (non-current), including Note 9
    • The Note just repeats was is in the statement. What are these provisions? Employee benefits? (Those don’t appear to be anywhere elsewhere in the statement.)
  • Other liabilities $49K, including Note 10
    • As this money is owed to employees, why is it not included with employee benefits?
    • Why would $22K of staff benefits be payable to another charity?

Essential information to go with the figures – the Notes to the Financial Statements (page 10 of the Financial Report)

  • 1 Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
    • (a) Basis of preparation
      • Is it really the case that all those currently involved with Praxeis, plus all those who might become involved as a result of Praxeis’s promotions and website, can get a financial report tailored to their particular needs? (This is the implication of not producing general purpose financial statements.)
      • Better practice is to list the Accounting Standards complied with.
      • Missing:
        • functional and presentation currency,
        • registered office and principal place of business
    • (b) Plant and Equipment
      • There is only one class.
      • Depreciation, for this method, is more helpfully expressed as a number of years.
    • (e) Employee benefits
      • There is no distinction between short-term and long-term benefits.
    • Policy Notes normally included but not in these accounts:
      • New, revised or amending Accounting Standards and Interpretations adopted
      • Current and non-current classification
      • Trade and other payables
      • New Accounting Standards and Interpretations not yet mandatory or early adopted
  • 11 Reserves
    • A restricted / unrestricted split would be helpful.
    • There is no explanation of ‘the Telegul ministry’ or ‘the Genesis Foundation’, or why they should be separate reserves.
    • Staff Support Reserve $136K: As the employees will eventually leave, why is this amount not a liability?
  • 12 Contingent Liabilities
    • These amounts do not meet the definition of a contingent liability.
  • 13 Related Parties
    • The nature of the relationship with Crossway Baptist Church is not identified.
      • Praxeis is, according to the church itself, a ‘mission arm’ of the church.
      • Two of the six directors are directors of the church, another was a pastor there for 11 years, and a fourth is a pastor of Crossway North Baptist Church.
      • Does all this mean that the church, according to the Accounting Standards, controls Praxeis (and should therefore consolidate it with its own accounts)?
  • Notes normally included, but not in these accounts:
    • Critical accounting judgements, estimates and assumptions
    • Commitments (even if there aren’t any)
    • Events after the reporting period

An independent opinion on the financial statements – the Independent Audit Report…(the second last page of the Financial Report)

  • This report is a ‘clean’ opinion (read here and here to draw the right conclusions from this).
  • Completeness of Income: this unusual inclusion is called an ‘emphasis of matter’ paragraph. It means that the auditor thought that this matter is ‘of such importance that it is fundamental to users’ understanding of the financial report’ [AAS 706, paragraph 4, www.auasb.gov.au]. Note well the content.

Membership of accountability organisations claimed

(End of review)

 

 

  1. This is how the ACNC explains ‘operating locations’ in their application guide: ‘You need to give details about where in Australia your organisation conducts (or plans to conduct) its activities.’
  2. Because of the possibility of two (or more) directors having the same name on the register of responsible persons, it is not possible to be definitive about the number of directorships held.
  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.

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