The Bible League Incorporated: 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The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has since been superseded.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 The Bible League Incorporated (TBL) as an organisation that seeks donations. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

(For the situation last year, read the review here.)

Is TBL registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
    • The website for TBL has a different name, Bible League International. This is the name of the US organisation[1].
    • The history on the website records that in ‘Bible League Australia and BiblesinAction (NZ)’ merged on 1 September 2012.
      • The New Zealand charity Bible League International New Zealand was registered three months later.
      • But there is no mention of a combined organisation under ‘Global Offices’ on the TBL website, nor in the Financial Report.
      • Each of Australia and New Zealand have their own information on the TBL website.
  • Other registrations:
    • As a NSW incorporated association (Y2857836). (Not, as it says on the Australian Business Register, an ‘Other Unincorporated Entity.)
    • TBL operates – according to the ACNC Register – throughout Australia. It is registered to fundraise in all states that have a licensing regime except for Western Australia and South Australia.
      • The law in this area is not straightforward and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.
    • If it’s ‘carrying on business’ outside NSW, as it appears to be, then it doesn’t have the required registration (an ARBN).

What do they do?

  • Not what the website or the Committee’s Report (in the Financial Report) says – that’s about the international effort. But what is said in the AIS 2015:
    • Fundraising through marketing to supply bibles.
  • See also ‘What choices do you have…?’ below.

Do they share the Gospel?

  • No.

What impact are they having?

  • No information found.

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

  • If we define ‘direct’ as ‘Distribution of Funds Received’ then 42% is administration.
    • ‘Employment expenses’ are 25% of total expenses.
    • It would be reasonable to ask TBL why it would not be more efficient for you to send your donation direct to the US organisation.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No
    • But if that’s critical for you, TBL say that there may be a solution:
      • However, businesses are able to gain some tax advantages by supporting the ministry through a business sponsorship.

Is their online giving secure?

  • eWay is used, so yes.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (and lodged relatively quickly, two and a half 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: Not quite.
    • No outcomes are given.
    • Two of the figures in the Income Statement do not match those in the Financial Report.
    • ‘Other names…’ is missing one of the business names.
  • Financial Report 2015: Questionable.
    • The directors have avoided having to comply with all the Accounting Standards by saying that TBL is not a reporting entity. This means that they believe that there are no users, present (including donors from all over Australia who gave a total of $3.20 m), or prospective, who rely on TBL’s financial statements.
      • The directors give no reason for the decision.
    • Except for one person, the directors of TBL are also the directors of Bible League International New Zealand, the New Zealand charity that was registered after the merger of ‘Bible League Australia and BiblesinAction (NZ)’ (see ‘Is TBL registered, above). This is a strong indicator of control by one of these charities, yet TBL’s accounts do not mention New Zealand[2].
    • There is no mention of the fact that this year’s accounts are for 12 months compared to 13 months last year.
    • Related parties are not disclosed.
    • The Statement of Financial Performance (again) doesn’t include ‘Other Comprehensive Income’.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • Last year’s strange result of exactly zero surplus or deficit was converted into a 1% deficit this year.
  • No obvious concerns with the financial structure.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • He gave a ‘clean’ opinion. To take the right amount of comfort for this finding, please read here and here. But
    • In accepting the engagement, he has implicitly agreed with the directors’ decision to produce special purpose statements.
    • He has not complied with the Auditing Standards in assessing the appropriateness of the directors’ choice of accounting policies.
    • He has omitted one of the financial statements from the scope of his audit,
    • See the points above under ‘Financial Report 2015’.

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

  • No:
    • TBL are long overdue, at least according to the ACNC, in selecting an Entity Subtype.
    • ‘Other Name(s) is missing one business name.
    • There is an argument for the country to which donations are sent – the US – to be included under ‘Where the Charity Operates’. And, because of the connection with New Zealand, that country.

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

  • The following areas for ‘My Gift to Plant Bibles’:
    • ‘Where Most Needed’
    • ‘India – Church Planting’
    • ‘Australia – Bringing Hope Behind Bars’
    • ‘Ethiopia – Planting God’s Word’
    • ‘Indonesis – Planting God’s Word’
    • ‘Mexico – eNews’
    • ‘India – eNews’
    • ‘Bibles for the Persecuted’
    • ‘Philippines- MICI Magazine’

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Not shown on the website, but you can see who they have listed with the ACNC under ‘Responsible Persons’ here.
  • Except for one, this list is the same as the one on the NZ Charities Register for Bible League International New Zealand.

To whom are TBL accountable?

  • Membership of Missions Interlink, an organisation that has a general accountability regime[3], is claimed on the website. Confirmed.
  • Membership of FIA, an organisation that has a fundraising code of practice, is claimed on the website. But TBL are (still) not in the list of members.
  • They are also accountable to the ACNC.

Are they responsive to feedback?

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

 

 

  1. There’s a charity with a similar name in Australia, but it’s not related to TBL, being a 100% subsidiary of this US organisation. It receives donations from the parent and after expenses (31% last year) distributes them in the Asia-Pacific region.
  2. It appears from The Charities Register that the accounting for the New Zealand charity is done by TBL.
  3. For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.