Wycliffe Australia: charity review

This is a review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission[1] (and a means for a Member to get income tax exemption when it might not otherwise be available[2], with a consequent accountability regime).

Wycliffe Australia’ is one such Member, and an organisation that seeks donations from the public.

Both Members and Associates have to accept a set of standards, the introduction to which includes this statement:

http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-20.png

The ACNC, in their article, Donating to Legitimate Charities, gives “some things to consider to help you make sure your donation is going where it is intended”:

  1. Check the charity’s name
  2. Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
  3. Be careful of online requests for donations.
  4. No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here’s the results for Wycliffe Australia, with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[3].

1.  There is no registered[4] charity in that name[5] (ACNC Register). The website that Missions Interlink links to is in the name ‘Wycliffe Bible Translators’. Searching the Register on that name leads to Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia[6](Wycliffe).

Wycliffe has not registered the name that it uses most prominently on its website. (Nor the other two names it uses there.)

2. NA

3. The “web address begins with ‘https’ and there is a closed padlock symbol next to the web address in the address bar”, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above]. For specific comfort when you are entering your information in order to donate, these logos are provided:

However, they are not linked to any information.

4. Although Wycliffe is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts, it is a registered charity.

Its ineligibility does not fit with the information under ‘Donate’:

No explanation of this inconsistency is given to online donors.

5.  The audited account of how the donations are used is the Financial Report 2017 on the ACNC Register. Within that there are two statements that give information on how the donations were used. Most donors think in terms of cash, so if that’s you, you might turn first to the Statement of Cash Flows. What you might now know though, is that you first should turn to the Notes to the accounts (Notes to the Financial Statements in this case) to check out the ‘Basis of preparation’.

Do you provide or give things to, receive things from, or have oversight of, or review, of the Wycliffe[7]? Perhaps you intend to donate or are one of the donors who gave some undisclosed amount[8] last year [Financial Report 2017]? Perhaps you are one of the suppliers or employees who shared in the $1.89 million of payments? [Financial Report 2017], or one of their 302 staff [AIS 2017]. If so, can you ring Wycliffe’s office and request that they prepare financial statements that answer the question or questions you have about the charity? I very much doubt it. You are therefore ‘potentially interested in the information provided in general purpose reports’.

You are therefore in the wrong place – I only have access to the published accounts of Wycliffe, and the directors[9] have again declared that you don’t exist:

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If Wycliffe is still in the running for your business –

  • The charity that they control, by being its only member, Wycliffe Relief and Development Foundation Ltd, is not consolidated by Wycliffe. (It is not even mentioned.)
  • The auditor, Matthew Hung, CA, of rdl.accountants, agrees with the decision that there are no users who are dependent on general purpose financial statements.
  • There are multiple giving options, but the report of resources consumed during the year (where your money went), shows just these two lines, without further explanation, for over 63% of the expenses:
    • ‘Operating expenses’ $1.20 million
    • ‘Program expenses’ $272K.
  • So, there is no information to give you comfort that the money that you will give will be spent on the purpose you gave it for.

Wycliffe did not respond to a draft of this review.

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Contact me if you need a more in-depth review.

 

 

 

  1. https://missionsinterlink.org.au/about/http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/word-image-21.png
  2. Focus on the nature of the charity’s work, its beneficiaries and the impact the charity is having in the community.Is it clear what the charity is trying to achieve and how its activities work towards its objectives?

    Would you like to spend your money, or time if volunteering, to support these objectives?

    Is the charity being transparent about its activities? [A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering].

  3. The ACNC implies, therefore, that it is a ‘legitimate’ charity. But this is not correct – as the ACNC itself points out, registration is voluntary.
  4. Nor an ABN or a business name.
  5. See here for last year’s review.
  6. From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au: http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/word-image-15.png  
  7. Presumably donations are included in the $1.31 million of ‘Operating income’.
  8. The people shown under ‘People’ here.

 

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