The Archbishop of Sydney’s Overseas Ministry Fund: mini charity review

Mini charity review of The Archbishop of Sydney’s Overseas Ministry Fund (ASOMF) an organisation that seeks donations online[1], and is exempt from Australian income tax via its membership of Missions Interlink. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

For the previous review, see here.

Is it responsive to feedback?

  • I sent them a draft of this review on 18 August 2017. They…did not reply.

Is ASOMF registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • ASOMF is an unincorporated body, a trust fund, that was established by (redacted on the deed, but presumably the Archbishop of Sydney at the time) in 2000.
  • Not to be confused with the other three charities named as belonging to the Archbishop:
  • Given that Anglican Aid runs its own operations and its two trusteeships from the one office, reports on them in its Annual Report as one financial entity, and all three charities have the same directors, one wonders, again, why
    • they don’t present consolidated financial statements, especially as the canon law governing their financial reporting requires a ‘charities group status report’ for Synod using the criterion for consolidation that is in the Australian Accounting Standards, and
    • they don’t take advantage of the ACNC Act’s group reporting provisions, thus simplifying their reporting requirements to the ACNC (both Annual Information Statement (AIS) and Financial Report).
  • ASORAF operates, per the ACNC Register, only in New South Wales. As a ‘religious organisation’, it is exempt from the fundraising licence requirements in this state.
    • It is not licensed in any of the other six states that have a licensing regime, either in its name or in the name of its trustee. The ACT doesn’t require one from charities any longer, but elsewhere? 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?

  • The trust deed is very general: ‘the development of ministry by providing assistance to persons and organisations’: The website, the second last section here, is a little more specific. But the AIS is 2016 is very helpful:
    • In 2015-16 the Overseas Ministry Fund helped almost 300 students access theological education by the provision of bursaries and scholarships. We primarily assist students in Africa, and also in Asia and Cuba. Most students attended colleges and universities in their home countries, but some received assistance to travel overseas to study. In addition to core theological subjects, students are offered a wide range of subjects that have wide community benefits, including literacy training and leadership development. These skills are invaluable as students return home to lead churches in poor and underdeveloped communities. The education that the students receive benefits local communities as well as local churches. See for the current application of this.

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?

  • Defining ‘direct’ as ‘Grants Paid’, ‘administration’ was 24% of expenses.

Do they pay their directors?

  • There is no line item ‘directors’ fees’ (or similar) in the expenses.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • ‘SecurePay’ is used, so yes.

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • The Notes to the Financial Statements give a description (country and purpose) of each project and the amount sent to each.

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

  • The donation form gives 20 options, under ‘I would like my donation to go to’, without saying which of the three charities they belong to. There is also a separate section ‘I would like to donate to this specific project’ (with no explanation as to why this is needed.)

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (six months after year end, a week later than last year.)

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016: Yes
    • In response to the review last year, Anglican Aid said that they would consider taking advantage of the group reporting provisions of the ACNC Act. There has been no change.
  • Financial Report 2016: Yes
    • ASOMF’s status as a ‘Basic Religious Charity’ means that is a voluntary submission.
    • The Note on related parties
      • does not mention the third charity in the office.
      • omits five of the directors.
    • There is no explanation as to how a charity can be run without any property, plant and equipment.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • Last year’s deficit of 27% of revenue was turned into a surplus of 28%, largely due, it appears, to the transfer of some projects to Anglican Aid in its own right (that is, not as trustee).
  • Almost no liabilities means a sound financial structure.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • The auditor, Warwick Shanks, of KPMG, gave a ‘clean’ opinion.
    • To take the right amount of comfort for this finding, please read here and here.

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

  • Yes
    • The trustee has not taken advantage of the ACNC’s group reporting provisions.
    • ASOMF continues to choose not to lodge, on the Register, the Annual Report that includes its activities, that is, the annual report of Anglican Aid.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Those people listed on the website.
  • A listing that matches the one on the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’):
  • There are 10 directorships recorded for each of ‘Douglas Marr’, ‘Peter Rogers’, and ‘Robert Stewart’, and nine for ‘Emma Penzo’. Apart from the first person, all have increased by one over last year. The Register only covers charities, not all not-for-profits, and of course doesn’t include for-profit organisations.  Therefore, if after eliminating the charities for which ASOMF’s Douglas, Peter, Robert and Emma are not a director, you are left with the total being more than a handful, it would be legitimate for you to question whether their ability to discharge his fiduciary responsibilities is threatened. Especially if they also have a full-time job.

To whom is ASOMF accountable?

  • The footer of the website that includes ASOMF information says that Anglican Aid, without specifying in what capacity, that is, in its own right, or as trustee of one or other of the other two charities, is a
    • ACFID MEMBER’. Membership of Anglican Aid, confirmed.
    • CMA STANDARDS COUNCIL ACCREDITED FOUNDATION MEMBER’. Membership of Anglican Aid, confirmed. (But the link on the website is broken.)
    • (member of) Micah. Membership of Anglican Aid, confirmed.
      • No accountability.
    • missions interlink ACCREDITED MEMBER’. Membership, the name of ASOMF, confirmed.
      • For one view on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.
    • REGISTERED CHARITY’. Confirmed.

 

 

  1. This is the website of Anglican Aid, ASOMF’s trustee. If you roll to the bottom to the bottom of the page, you will see that this form covers three charities, one of which is ASOMF.
  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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