Sowers International Australia Incorporated, charity 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The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has since been superseded.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 July 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 Sowers International Australia Incorporated (SI).

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

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 17 March 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. (Go straight there.)

Sources

  • ACNC Register (including links)
  • Google search on the charity’s name.
  • SI website.
  • Not on FaceBook or LinkedIn.
  • State government fundraising licence registers.
  • No reviews on Glassdoor yet.

REGISTRATION DETAILS

Entity Subtype

  • A subtype consistent with sharing the Gospel.
    • Is the message under the type an ACNC mistake?
  • The first object in the constitution is evangelism, pure and direct:
    • To win the lost to Christ by initiating and advancing effective local Church Open Air Evangelism (sic) in every opportune area [clause 2(1)].

CHARITY DETAILS

Legal Name

  • SI is a NSW incorporated association (No. Y1946305).

Other Name(s)

  • The absence of a business name here means that SI must use its full name on all documents and publications.

Charity Address for Service

  • I have no reason to believe that this doesn’t work.

Charity ABN

  • No tax deduction is claimable for a donation to SI.
  • SI is not currently registered for GST. This is not an issue until its revenue reaches $150K.
  • Charity Street Address

Postal address, from the website: PO Box 199 Casula Mall NSW 2170

Email

  • I have no reason to believe that this doesn’t work.

Phone

  • From the website: 02 9771 4473

Website

  • From the Google search: http://www.sowersinternationalaust.com/.

ANNUAL REPORTING

  • AIS 2015
    • This is SI’s compulsory Annual Information Statement 2015 (AIS 2015).
    • It gives basic financial information. If you think that this might be sufficient for you
      • ‘Donations and bequests’ includes $5K ‘Administration levy’ (an unexplained item) in the income statement.
      • ‘Grants and donations…’ is called ‘Overseas Ministry Operating Costs’ in the income statement.
  • Financial Report 2015
    • Although not required to submit a financial report to the ACNC (because of its size), SI is, as a member of Missions Interlink[ii] required to ‘have available for its members and supporters a clear and appropriate financial statement which has been approved by its auditor [Standards Statement, 4.1]
    • The Statement by Committee is not signed, so we don’t know when the report was finished.
    • It was lodged five months after year end.
    • 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
    • None on the website.
    • In the constitution: see Annexure 1.

Date Established

  • “SOWERS International formed a Board in Australia in 1993 to support Australian missionary candidates.”

Since 1994 the work of Sowers International in Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and more recently in Uganda and Kenya has developed and expanded under their leadership. The Gospel is being preached and hundreds are coming to Christ and joining local churches. Many new churches are being planted” [About Us].

Who the Charity Benefits

  • Vision and Mission
    • None found.
  • Activities (What did SI do?)
    • From the Description of charity’s activities and outcomes in the AIS 2015:
      • SOWERS conducted “The SOWERS Program” of evangelistic training and outreach
        • Note: nothing done toward the prime object (see Entity Subtype, above)
    • There’s a description of what SI does on its website.
    • And a detailed description of all five levels of The Sowers Program in the constitution.
  • Outcomes (What did SI deliver?)
    • SI did not respond to the request in the AIS 2015 for a description of its outcomes.
    • Some information here – but Sowers internationally rather than just Australia?
  • Impact (How were people’s lives improved?)
    • Some information here – but Sowers internationally rather than just Australia?

Size of Charity

  • SI is well under the cutoff for the next size of charity (Medium).

Financial Year End

  • This means that the next financial report is due by 31 December 2016. (or 31 January if the ACNC is generous again next year.) 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)[ii]

  • SI does not have a fundraising licence in this state.
  • SI calls for donations on its website.
    • It doesn’t have a fundraising licence in any of the other six states that have a licensing regime.
      • Apart from exemptions, whether it needs such a licence in these states depends on whether those states think that SI, by calling for donations publicly, is ‘fundraising’ in their territory.

CHARITY’S DOCUMENT (SIC)

  • There is no Annual Report/Review available on the ACNC Register.
  • Nor on the website.

RESPONSIBLE PERSONS

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

Peter Gazard

Paul Mosiejczuk

Selwyn Sexton

Delia Yap

Geoffrey Tomkinson     This function was not working at the time of publication

Christine Sexton

Wendell Merchant

Neil Clark

  • Is the Peter Gazard this one?
  • Presumably Paul Mosiejczuk is this one?
  • If Ella in the names here is Delia Yap, then this list matches the website.
  • Under ‘Position’
    • To comply with the constitution, there should be a Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, in addition to the Secretary and Treasurer.
    • The Public Officer is not a responsible person unless he is also a committee member.
    • Isn’t there something more descriptive than ‘Other’?

(End of review of the ACNC Register information)

Latest financial report – detail

  • This report falls considerably short of any reasonable interpretation of the Missions Interlink requirement (see Financial Report, above):
  • The is no audit report. (Were the statements even audited?)
  • The Statement by Committee is unsigned.
  • There is no reason given for the questionable decision – given the public invitation to donate and the dependence on donations – not to produce those statements that are needed by users (and prospective users) who can’t request tailor-made statements.
  • There is no explanation why Mission Funds held in Trust (100% of the liabilities) are classified as liabilities.
  • Nearly all the required Notes to the accounts are absent.
  • There is no Statement of Changes in Equity.
  • With the Statement of Income and Expenditure
    • The Net Surplus should be the figure before the transfer to reserves, not after.
    • The section ‘Other Comprehensive Income’ is missing.
    • There is no explanation for the absence of any employee benefits.
    • The only explanation for 95% of the expenses was that they were ‘Ministry Operating Costs’.

(End of review)

 

 

[i] Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, Australia’s national regulator of charities.

[ii] 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.’

[iii] 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.