This is a charity review of World Outreach Ltd (WO), an organisation that seeks donations online (via both its international organisation, World Outreach International and its controlled trust, Partners in Development Trust Fund), and is a member 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?
- There is no website, so feedback and complaints cannot be invited, nor accountability discussed.
- I sent them a draft of this review. Like last year, and the year before that, they…did not respond.]
Is WO registered?
- As a charity, yes.
- It is a member of a reporting group, World Outreach Ltd_ACNC GROUP (WO Group), with its charity World Outreach as the operator of a PBI (WO PBI).
- There is another charity that is controlled by the same ‘Responsible Persons’ (see below), and that is part of the family: Partners in Development Trust Fund (PID). Why is this charity not included in the ACNC reporting group?
- Because it is a very small charity, I have not gone to the trouble of including it in this review.
- WO is a public company, a company limited by guarantee. (Not, as it has said for at least three years now on the ABN record, an ‘Other Incorporated Entity’.)
- It does not have the provisions in its constitution to allow it to omit ‘Limited/Ltd’ at the end of its name.
- WO operates, per the ACNC Register, in New South Wales, Northern Territory, and Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia. This doesn’t agree with the list for WO Group.
- It has an online invitation to give.
- WO has a fundraising licence only in Queensland. It does not explain why it doesn’t have a licence in the other five states that have a licensing regime.
What do they do?
- There is no clear description anywhere of what WO Group does:
- There is no website – and no description of WO Group’s activities on the website of World Outreach International.
- The AIS 2017 for the Group gives a long description of activities that, when seen against what is disclosed in the Financial Report 2017, is unlikely to be about WO Group.
- The Directors’ Report (in the Financial Report 2016), is again unhelpful:
- The principal activities of the company during the financial year were that of a charitable organisation. (There are more than 54,000 such organisations in Australia.)
- WO operates, per the ACNC Register, in 12 countries overseas, WO PBI in none. This doesn’t tally with the WO Group’s listing of only nine countries.
- Including a country merely if funds are sent there is valid. However, does WO send money to all these countries, or rather to World Outreach International?
- From the objects in the WO constitution they should do:
- (a) to propagate the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ through all available means throughout Australia and the rest of the world
- (b) to send missionaries and to employ national workers in different countries where the companies (sic) mission work operates or will operate….
- But it is doubtful that they do this themselves, most likely just being a fundraiser.
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?
- WO Group: If we define ‘direct’ as grants and donations made – and this ignores the fact that not all that money would go to or be spent on beneficiaries – then ‘administration’, from the audited statement, is 100% of expenses.
- But from the AIS 2017, it is 29%. The reconciliation is in the additional (unaudited) statement that shows that $312K for ‘designations’ was deducted before reporting the revenue figure.
Do they pay their directors?
- There is no prohibition in the constitutions, but there’s nothing the two income statements to suggest that they do.
Can you get a tax deduction?
- No, not for a donation to WO.
- But yes, if you donate to WO PBI, the World Outreach Ltd Benevolent Fund.
- This is not quite what the website says:
Is their online giving secure?
- The first page of ‘Make a Donation’ in ‘The Blessing Centre’ doesn’t mention security.
- The page for Australian dollars says that eWay is used.
What choices do you have in how your donation is used?
- On the first page (‘The Blessing Centre’), there are nine categories, each with multiple (sometimes overlapping) options.
- Theses donations are in US dollars. When you get to the donation form, there is a small message: You can also choose to pay in Australian Dollars via eWAY…’.
Where were the (net) donations sent?
- This is not disclosed.
Is their reporting up-to-date?
- Yes (a month late, seven months after their year-end, and a week later than last year).
- 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 10 months ago.
Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?
- Group AIS 2017: No
- There is little support for the claim that their international activities include ‘Operating overseas including delivering programs’. (There is a separate line about transferring money overseas.)
- The ‘Description of group’s (sic) activities and outcomes’
- Is not supported by the other publicly available information; that information suggests that the description is about World Outreach International, not WO Group.
- No outcomes are reported.
- Neither the states nor the countries listed match those on the Register.
- How can one full-time plus two part-time employees equal three full-time equivalent staff?
- None of the figures in the ‘Comprehensive Income Statement Summary’ match those in the first of the two profit and loss statements.
- Group Financial Report 2017: No. Like last year,
- Two of the four statements are materially non-compliant with the Accounting Standards.
- None of the Accounting Standards that are required to be followed have been followed.
- Without explanation, there are two statements named Statement of Profit or Loss and Other Comprehensive Income.
- There is no mention of the fact that the statements cover two charities, not one.
- And should cover three (Partners in Development Trust Fund).
- Revenue, due to the omission of ‘designations’ (grants made), revenue is over three times larger than the amount reported.
- Neither of the items that are classified as liabilities appear to meet the definition of a liability.
- The decision to say that there are no users, either present or prospective, who are dependent on general purpose financial statements is, given WO’s reach and donation income, questionable.
- There are many other deficiencies in reporting.
What financial situation was shown by that Report?
- The directors continued comfort with the Financial Report in the face of the issues above means that I am not comfortable making a comment on this.
What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?
- The auditor, Nathan Boyd, Chartered Accountant, of Boyd Audit, gave a ‘clean’ opinion. Looking at the issues identified above, he shouldn’t have done. Little comfort can be taken from his work – especially as there are several significant mistakes in his actual report.
If a charity, is their information on the ACNC Register complete/correct?
- WO Group: The state shown doesn’t match the information given by WO and WO PBI.
- WO: Almost – ‘Email’ is incorrect.
- WO PBI: No
- ‘Date Established’, ‘Size of Charity’, and ‘Operates in (Countries)’ is blank.
- The address under ‘Email’ is incorrect.
Who are the people controlling the organisation?
- For both charities, from their ACNC Register entries (under ‘Responsible Persons’):
- Bruce Hills (the International Director of World Outreach International)
- Gail McDougall (the ‘Office’ for the Australian ‘country office’)
- Grahame Orpin (Australia Country Director, with his wife)
- Thomas Searle
- This is one less than last year. Now there is only one non-executive director.
- The board is accountable to the members. The number of members is not disclosed.
To whom are they accountable?
- As charities, WO and WO PBI are accountable to the ACNC.
- WO, as a company, is still accountable for some things to ASIC.
- It is also is a member of Missions Interlink.
- For one opinion of the strength of that accountability, see the section Activities in this review.
- “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. ↑