The European Christian Mission (Australian Section) Incorporated: mini charity review for donors

The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has since been superseded.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 March 2018, and come back to this one as needed.

Mini charity review of The European Christian Mission (Australian Section) Incorporated (ECM) 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.)

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • When sent a draft of this review, the Administration Assistant said that XX would respond. But I heard nothing, even after reminding them that I was about to publish.

Is ECM registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • Other registrations:
    • As an ACT incorporated association (A 00256).
    • Its office is in NSW, and it operates interstate. It has the necessary ARBN registration (054 215 388)
    • Since it has no business name registered, ECM cannot operate under any name other than its full registered name, as above. Not
      • ECM Australia & New Zealand, ECM, and ECM Australia and New Zealand on its webpage.
      • ECM and European Christian Mission Australia on its Facebook page.
    • ECM doesn’t have a fundraising licence in either of the states in which it operates. Nor in any of the others that have a licensing regime[1].

What do they do?

Do they share the Gospel?

  • Yes

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?

  • The expenses are not classified to allow this calculation.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • PayPal is used, so yes.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (but the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2015 was lodged three months late, nine 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 10 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2015: No
    • No outcomes given.
    • The ‘Type of financial statements prepared’ is incorrect.
    • ‘Other Income’ and ‘All other revenue’ are incorrect.
    • ECM is no longer a Medium-sized charity based on this year’s revenue. It is now Large. Does ECM have ACNC agreement to stay at Medium?
  • Financial Report 2015: No
    • The Statement by Members of the Australian Council is not about ECM; rather it is about a combination of ECM and the New Zealand charity European Christian Mission.
    • The Report includes, without explanation, the financial statements for that New Zealand charity.
    • There is no audit report on ECM – it is a report on both charities.
    • The constitution lodged by ECM with the ACNC is a constitution for a combined Australia and New Zealand organisation, the webpage is for a combined Australia and New Zealand organisation, two of ECM’s directors are the only officers of the New Zealand charity, and the New Zealand charity’s ‘Street Address’ is ECM’s address. But there is no explanation of the lack of consolidated financial statements.
    • The financial statements for ECM do not show its correct name.
    • The directors decided to produce special purpose financial statements, rather than the type that comply with all the Accounting Standards. This type is only appropriate if no user, present or prospective, is dependent on standard financial statements to make decisions. Which is doubtful for an organisation that has 23 full-time employees, operates in two states, collected $1.42 m donations, and calls for donations on its website.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • The surplus was increased from a little over 0% of turnover to 24%. Or, without the unusually large bequest this year, to 2%.
  • $1.99 m is held in cash, cash equivalents and financial assets, an amount equivalent to two and a half times last year’s revenue. There is no explanation for holding this much.
  • No obvious concerns with the financial structure.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • He didn’t. His report says he audited two organisations, not just ECM.
    • Which means that the Audit Opinion and Basis of Accounting sections of the report do not match the scope.
  • Ignoring this, he gave a ‘clean’ opinion[3]. But
    • in accepting the engagement, he implicitly agreed with the directors’ decision to produce special purpose rather than general purpose financial statements (see above).
    • He makes contradictory statements about assessing ECM’s accounting policies.

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

  • Not quite – ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’ are blank.

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

  • ‘Where it is most needed’
  • ‘For a worker’
  • ‘For a project’
  • For the last two there is a place to name the worker/project. A list of workers is here, but the projects are not on the Australian webpage.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Those shown on the website here. The same as those listed under ‘Responsible Persons’ on the ACNC Register.
    • Two of these people are the only directors of the New Zealand charity.

To whom are ECM accountable?

  • ECM, on its webpage under ‘Partners’, says that it is an ‘Accredited Member’ of Mission Interlink. Confirmed.
    • Missions Interlink has standards with which members must comply[4].
  • ECM is also accountable to the ACNC.

 

 

  1. The law in this area is not straightforward and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.
  2. The description of ‘activities’ in the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2015 is identical to last year’s description, and omits the promotion and fundraising.
  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.