SIM Australia: mini charity review for donors

The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has since been superseded.  Please contact me if you are facing a significant decision with this charity and an updated review would be of help.

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

(To see the situation last year, read this review.)

Is SIM registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
    • SIM controls another charity, SIMaid Trust, that is also registered as a charity. The Trust’s figures are included with those of SIM in its Financial Report (see below)[1].
    • SIM also consolidates two other organisation, International Christian Fellowship and Africa Evangelical Fellowship[2].
  • Other registrations:
    • As a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
      • It is permitted to omit ‘Ltd/Limited’ from its name.
    • According to their ABN record, not registered for GST. There’s GST in the accounts, so must be a mistake.
    • SIM has a licence to fundraise in all seven states that have a licensing regime.

What do they do?

  • See their website, here.
  • More succinctly, in the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2015 on the ACNC Register:
    • SIM Australia has been empowered by God to facilitate people, prayer and funds for Christ’s global mission. Praise God that in 2015, 196 SIM Australia missionaries and associates partnered with national believers and churches to share Christ’s love in 30 countries.
      • Comparing what they said in their AIS 2014, it appears missionaries increased by 77 – or does the 196 include inactive missionaries? – but without an increase in countries.
      • They also have members, associates and teams. See the AIS 2014 for last year’s figures.

Do they share the Gospel?

  • Yes

What impact are they having?

  • Nothing systematic under either ‘impact’ or ‘outcomes’ found on the website.

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

  • If we define ‘direct’ as all the costs to do with the missionaries, plus ‘Project Expenses’, the figure is 19% of expenses.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No
  • But you can if you give for one of the development projects run by SIMaid Trust.
  • SIM also promotes giving via Steer Incorporated.

Is their online giving secure?

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (lodged on the last day allowed, six 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 over 12 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2015: No.
    • The financial information is for the group, not SIM.
    • ‘Employee expenses’ do not include missionaries.
    • No outcomes are given.
  • Financial Report 2015: It contains all the required statements and reports, but
    • Despite the title, the Statement of Comprehensive Income is again missing the comprehensive income section.
    • Most of the other issues raised last year remain.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • They increased the surplus as a percentage of income from less than 1% to 6%.
  • ‘Cash’ and ‘Financial Assets’ represent 12 months’ revenue.
  • No obvious issues with either short-term or long-term financial structure.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • He gave a ‘clean’ opinion[3].

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

  • Yes

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

  • ‘Missionaries’ – 196 according to the AIS 2015
    • If you give to a missionary this way, does that go to the missionary, or to SIM who then pays the missionary a set amount?
  • ‘Projects’ – six (four of which are tax deductible)
  • ‘Where Most Needed’
  • ‘Heaven Sent Gifts’ – 16 gifts

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • According to the website, these people. According to the list on the ACNC Register though, under ‘Responsible Persons’, also Robert Cole (although as the Secretary, that’s probably incorrect).

To whom are SIM accountable?

  • Compliance with the standards of Missions Interlink[4] is claimed. Membership confirmed.
  • AEFS is also accountable to the ACNC.

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • When sent a draft of this review, they sent this response:
    • Thank you for sending through your updated review. The review was very helpful in identifying several aspects of our reporting which we agree need to be addressed. We are making appropriate changes. I would also want to reassure you that SIM strives to be completely transparent and positive in our response to feedback. As always we encourage existing and potential prayer and financial supporters of SIM projects and missionaries to direct any concerns, complaints or questions to the National Director.

 

 

  1. SIM has not taken advantage of the ACNC’s group reporting concessions. This means that its subsidiary must lodge accounts, something that it hasn’t done.
  2. Said to be dormant, no explanation is given why they remain registered 27 and 18 years after being taken over.
  3. To take the right amount of comfort from a ‘clean opinion’, please read here and here.
  4. For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.