The Christian & Missionary Alliance of Australia Inc: mini-charity review

Mini-charity review of The Christian & Missionary Alliance of Australia Inc (CMAA) as an organisation that seeks donations and that is a member of Missions Interlink[1]. (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, on 27 June 2017, they, like last year, didn’t respond.

Is CMAA registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • It also controls[2] at least six (6) other charities:
    • The Christian And Missionary Alliance Development Fund
      • No website of its own, and no mention on the CMAA site.
      • Its AIS 2016 describes its ‘activities and outcomes’ as ‘Investments on behalf of churches, attendees and entities of the Christian and Missionary Alliance of Australia.’
      • No Financial Report is required by the ACNC (‘Small” size); its AIS 2016 shows assets of $1.72 m and liabilities of $1.38 m.
    • The Christian And Missionary Alliance of Australasia Property Trust
      • No website of its own, and no mention on the CMAA site.
      • Its AIS 2016 describes its ‘activities and outcomes’ as ‘Properties were held in trust and administered on behalf of churches and entities of the Christian & Missionary Alliance of Australia.’
      • No Financial Report is required by the ACNC (‘Small” size); its AIS 2016 shows assets of $1.38 m (so not many properties), and liabilities of $38K.
    • Alliance College Of Australia
      • Although the website is still in this name, the ‘History’ section says that the College changed its name in 2016 to The Alliance Institute for Mission. They have yet to register this name.
      • The Financial Report 2016 falls well short of the ACNC’s requirements. (It shows a deficit of $10K and, perhaps to a strange definition of assets and liabilities, zero equity.)
    • North East Alliance Church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance of Australia
      • This church is in Modbury, South Australia[3]. It is a ‘Basic Religious Charity’ (and the ‘Entity type’ on the ABN record is incorrect, so as an unincorporated entity it is eligible for this status). As such, there is no financial information about it on the Register.
    • Cama Services (Australia)
      • No website of its own, and no mention on the CMAA site.
      • No Financial Report is required by the ACNC (‘Small” size); its AIS 2016 shows no transactions and assets of $10.
    • The Trustee For Cama Services Overseas Aid Fund
      • No website of its own, and no mention on the CMAA site.
      • The constitution is for an ACT incorporated association, Cama Services Overseas Aid. It established, and is the trustee of, the Fund.
      • No Financial Report is required by the ACNC (‘Small” size); its AIS 2016 shows $96K of donations, $93K grants made, and assets of $4K.
  • Other registrations:
    • As an ACT incorporated association (A 02382).
    • Still not registered for fundraising in any of the seven states that have a fundraising license regime. This includes the six states in which CMAA operates[4].
    • It appears to be doing business interstate, yet it still doesn’t have the required registration (an ARBN).
  • The information below, unless marked otherwise, is about CMAA only.

What do they do?

  • CMAA is a Christian denomination.
  • Between the video, and the ‘Events’, and ‘Ministries’ tabs on the home page, you should get the picture. Or this, from the AIS 2016:
    • The Christian & Missionary Alliance continued to strengthen its churches to be worshiping communities proclaiming God’s Word; discipling people of all nations, particularly where Christ has not been named; establishing local churches throughout Australia; teaching and training believers for the ministries of the Church at home and overseas; and establishing and nurturing churches related in fellowship with The Christian and (sic) Missionary Alliance around the world, dedicated to evangelism and missions.

Do they share the Gospel?

  • Looking at the ministries, one would presume so; often, though, I’d suggest that it is their churches, not them, who are sharing the Gospel.

What impact are they making?

  • Nothing found.

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

  • Given that the impact that they seek is done via seven charities that are not reported on in one set of financial statements, any calculation based only on CMAA may be unreliable.
    • For CMAA alone, if we define ‘impact’ as being delivered by ‘Overseas missions’, ‘Australian ministries’, ‘Leadership training’, ‘Events’ and ‘Fleet’, then the figure is 32%. If the impact is only delivered by a portion of each of these items, then the figure is higher – probably much higher.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • There is no comment about security on the first two pages in the giving process. Even on the third, one must assume that the methods shown are secure.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (lodged three 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 nearly 8 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016: Not quite. There are no outcomes given, and one of the figures in the Income Statement does not match those in the Financial Report.
  • Financial Report 2016: No
    • The lack of consolidated financial statements means that a true and fair view is not shown.
      • CMAA have not taken advantage of the ACNC’s group reporting concessions.
    • Also, the directors’ decision that CMAA, an organisation that controls six other charities, receives over a million dollars in donations, operates in six states, and appeals publicly for donations, has no users, either present or prospective, who rely on the financial statements to make decisions, is questionable. (The consequence is that they can produce special purpose financial statements, statements that do not have to comply with all the Accounting Standards.)

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • Given CMAA’s exclusion of controlled entities, no comment can be reliably made.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • The auditor, Joel Hernandez, of rdl.accountants, gave a ‘clean’ opinion[5]. However, given that he agreed with the directors’ decisions not to consolidate the six charities that CMAA controls, and to produce special purpose financial statements, you could legitimately ask ‘Why?’

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

  • Yes

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

  • Fiji Cyclone’
  • ‘Great Commission Fund’
  • ‘‘Why Jesus?’ Alliance Youth Camp’, and
  • ‘IMPACT 2017’.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Not shown on the website.
  • The ACNC Register, under ‘Responsible Persons’, says that it is these people:
  • The board is one short of the required number (Rule 15).

To whom are CMAA accountable?

  • Although they do not mention it on their website, they are a Member of Missions Interlink[6].
  • Accountable also to the ACNC.

 

 

 

  1. Missions Interlink is an organisation that, among other things, gives members income tax exemption even though they do not meet the “in Australia” test and do not have deductible gift recipient status. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)
  2. The constitution of the Development Fund provides that ‘The Development Fund shall only admit a person who is a member of the Church [CMAA] and who the Church Executive has nominated in writing to the Board [paragraph 2.3]. The constitution of the Property Trust provides that ‘The Governing Body [CMAA board] shall be entitled to appoint persons to be members of the Trust and shall also be entitled subject to Article 8 hereof to remove them from such membership [paragraph 7]. The constitution of the College provides that ‘The National Board of The Christian and Missionary Alliance shall appoint a standing committee (referred to as the Governing Committee for The Alliance College of Australia), in accordance with the Rules of Association, which shall have the responsibility of promoting, administering and controlling the program of the College.’ [paragraph 3]. With the North East Alliance Church, two of the three ‘responsible persons’ are on the CMAA board (and Both its ‘Charity Street Address’ and ‘Charity Address for Service’ are those of CMAA). The constitution of Carma Services (Australia) provides that ‘The Members of this Organisation shall comprise those persons hereinafter named as Members of the Board together with such other persons as may, with the written consent of The Christian and Missionary Alliance of Australia, hereafter and from time to time be admitted to membership by the Board….’
  3. To add to the strangeness of the relationship between CMAA and this church, the constitution on the ACNC Register is not for this, or any other church, but the one that applies to each CMAA ‘developing church’.
  4. The law in this area could be clearer – is an internet invitation ‘fundraising’ for instance? – and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.
  5. To take the right amount of comfort for this finding, please read here and here.
  6. For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.