Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor Incorporated: mini-charity review

Mini-charity review of Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor Incorporated (SAUP), an organisation that seeks donations on the internet, and is a member of Missions Interlink. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

For last year’s review, see here.

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • When sent a draft of this review, they…did not respond.

Is SAUP registered?

  • Yes, as a charity.
  • SAUP is a Queensland incorporated association (No. IA31696).
  • It operates, per the ACNC Register, in five states.
    • Four of the states require charities to register if they are ‘fundraising’.
      • SAUP solicits donations on the internet.
      • It has no fundraising licences[1].
  • It operates overseas, per the ACNC Register, in India.

What do they do?

  • SAUP is a ‘sending office’ of Servants.
  • The page for SAUP on the Servants’ website has this description of what it does:
    • If you’re interested in Servants and you live in Australia – you’re not alone! A network of us across the country promote the work of Servants, participate in discernment, prepare folk to make the move to a slum, and to make staying there as hassle-free as possible. The Servants Australia office is located in Brisbane at Windsor Road Baptist Church, and provides the hub for a number of volunteers. Individuals with skills, experience and interest in Servant alongside the poor (sic) are in each State, and at times are available for face-to-face discussions.
  • And this is what they did in 2016 (from the AIS 2016):
    • In 2016 our key workers in India were home on furlough or addressing visa issues. This meant that in 2016 our main work was in Australia, raising awareness of issues in Asian slums, making contact with people interested in working in this environment and providing support and guidance as they considered their options. This included presenting and running information events at a number of key Australian Christian conferences and gatherings, as well as one-on-one support and relationship building with individuals considering future work in this environment. We also spent time supporting our workers as they used their time in Australia constructively and considered their future options. This activity also included maintaining a small office at Red Hill to serve as a base for our coordinator and volunteers and for storing information
      • What is the status of these ‘key workers’ given that SUAP doesn’t have any full-time employees (AIS 2016)?

Do they pay their directors?

  • There is insufficient public information to say.

Do they share the Gospel [2]?

  • No

What impact are they having?

  • Nothing systematic found.

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

  • On the giving page on the website, prospective donors are told that
    • There are several ways you can contribute financially to Servants’ vision to see the urban poor and their communities transformed by Christ.  Servants offices are fully staffed by volunteers and overheads are kept to a minimum in keeping with our commitment to simplicity. Donations can be made for specific Servants project funds or in support of individual missionaries.* No administration fee is taken out of donations to Servants projects and 100% of your gift will be sent to the field [emphasis in original].
      • But in addition to nine volunteers, SAUP has an employee (AIS 2016).
      • SAUP made grants and gave donations that totalled only 17% of donations received (AIS 2016).

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No.
    • But SAUP promote a secular organisation, Global Development Group, as a means of getting a tax deduction:
      • Servants is an incorporated not-for-profit association in Queensland. We are presently not registered for Deductible Gift Recipient status therefore cannot issue tax receipts. However we partner with Global Development Group who provide tax receipts for the ‘Big Brothers and Big Sisters’ project in Cambodia, and ‘Lilok Organic Farm’ project in The Philippines. Other projects are currently in the process of obtaining tax deductibility status.
        • What does this facility cost SA?
        • Global Development Group is not a Christian organization, and would not be allowed to spread the Gospel via such projects anyway. How then can such projects meet the objects of SAUP?

Is their online giving secure?

  • PayPal is used, so yes.

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

  • The form for a donation via PayPal invites you to “enter name of missionary or project)”, but the names of these missionaries and projects are not given on the website.

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • We can only assume that they were sent to somebody or some organisation in India, the country shown on the ACNC Register.
    • The Indian Government requires all foreign contributions to be reported.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (on the second last day, seven months after their year-end, and at the same time as last year).
    • 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 over 15 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016: Almost – no outcomes are reported.
  • Financial Report 2016: NA
    • Because of its size SAUP doesn’t have to lodge a Financial Report.
    • Although SAUP is a member of Missions Interlink, and one of their requirements is that members ‘have available for its members and supporters a clear and appropriate financial statement which has been approved by its auditor [Standards Statement, 4.1], they did not choose to lodge one with the ACNC voluntarily. You could ask for it though.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • Not from a Report, but the AIS 2016:
    • Almost all the $75K income came from ‘Donations and bequests’.
    • Employees took 85% of the income (or 62% of expenses).
      • This is for one part-time employee (AIS 2016).
      • The presence of an employee does not match the statement on the giving page that ‘Servants offices are fully staffed by volunteers…’.
    • The $13K ‘Grants and donations made…’ represents only 17% of income (or 12% of expenses).

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • NA

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

  • Almost:
    • The website address is for the site that covers all the offices of the network worldwide. This is the page about Australia.
    • ‘Date Established’ is blank.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • The directors are not mentioned on the website. From the ACNC Register they are:
    • Jon Eastgate
    • Nathan Elmes
    • Kelly Otto
    • Ralph Reilly
    • The board is accountable to the members. The number of members is not available.

To whom is SAUP accountable?

  • Although it is an Australian association, another body, the ‘International Leadership Team (undefined), has the power to admit and the power to remove members (the constitution).
  • The page for Australia on the website claims membership of Missions Interlink. Confirmed.
    • For one view on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.
  • As a charity, accountable to the ACNC.
  • And to the Queensland regulator of incorporated associations.

 

 

 

  1. 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.
  2. “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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