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Asia Evangelistic Fellowship International Inc.: mini charity review for donors

Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.  Use the ‘Search charity names’ box to see if there is a later review.  If the latest review has a message like this, you are welcome to make your case for an updated review via email to ted@businessbythebook.com.au.

Mini charity review of Asia Evangelistic Fellowship International Inc. (AEFI), 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, they provided comments.

Is AEFI registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • Other registrations:
    • As a WA incorporated association (A1007002D).
    • Apart from its office in WA, AEFI operates, at least per the ACNC Register, in NSW and Victoria. AEFI also has an invitation to give on the internet.
      • It does not have the registration necessary, an ARBN, to operate interstate.
      • It does not have a fundraising licence in any of the seven states that have a licensing regime[1].
    • Business name, AEF International.

What does AEFI do?

  • The website says that they do evangelism, community development and ‘media ministries’.
    • There aresome 150 national missionaries in 9 Asian countries’.
    • And training schools – Asia College of Ministry (ACOM) – in four of those countries.
    • Plus, Destiny Radio.
    • But the website doesn’t make it clear to what extent it is AEFI that does this work as opposed to local AEFI organisations – or partners.
  • The AIS 2016 says that AEFI simply raises money:
    • Funding support to aid evangelism, church planting, medical assistance, schooling, orphanages, training programs.
  • The Profit & Loss Statement supports the AIS 2016 view.
  • The resolution is mostly likely in the fact that AEFI is both, without distinction in its public material,
    • the coordinating body for ‘the autonomous chartered national organisations and donor bases known as Asia Evangelistic Fellowship and other organsations started by/or affiliated with AEFI’ [the constitution, paragraph 6],
    • and the Australian Asia Evangelistic Fellowship body.
  • Ministry comment:
    • ‘The work that is carried out in the ten Asian countries is done by the people living in those countries. AEFI’s mission has always been to train Asians to reach Asian through evangelism, church planting, community development, establishing primary and secondary schools to provide education for marginalised children, and orphanages for homeless children. AEFI’s role is to set and implement the vision, identify key local leadership, establish local boards, raise the funds from our donor bases to support these projects as well as send trainers periodically  from Australia, Singapore, USA and other countries to provide the training and leadership in the various activities that are undertaken to enable these local AEF field bases to provide cost-effective outcomes.’

Does AEFI share the Gospel?

  • Yes.

What impact are they having?

  • Nothing systematic found. Some anecdotal evidence under ‘News And Events’.
  • Ministry comment:
    • ‘Typically our Annual Reports contain information about the impact of our ministry and these are made available to donors.’

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

  • If we define ‘direct’ as the money sent overseas, it cost them $101K to send $205K.
    • That’s 33% on administration.
      • 21% of this administration ($21K) was for ‘Travel & accommodation’.
    • It would be reasonable to ask them why if would not be more efficient for you to send the money direct to the destination.
  • Ministry comment:
    • ‘AEFI gives all donors the choice of where they would like their donations to go to, some only want to give to our schools and orphanages, some want to support a worker and his family, others only want to give for training new pastors, etc. Our website states that 90% of all designated funds go to the work in our fields, in fact it is higher that 90%, the balance (less than 10%) is used to meet administrative costs of ensuring the most effective use of the donations. 

Some people are happy for AEFI to use the money wherever it is most needed, this is called the general fund. The general fund is mainly used to meet the administrative expenses of running the organisation including the salary of the office administrator which is less that $15,000 per year.Our International Director’s role includes undertaking regular visits to all 10 countries and three donor bases (this amount includes the travel costs for our Training Coordinator as well who trains our local trainers at 4 Bible colleges). Therefore, the amount is most reasonable considering the number of countries our two directors have to visit. They only travel by economy class and where possible, stay in people’s homes,  AEF properties or low budget hotels. Our International Director’s role is extensive and it is because of his regular monitoring of local leadership and projects that donors have over the years, developed confidence in AEF’s ministries.Now, our International Director’s salary is met entirely by individuals who want to support him and his family (this is clearly reflected in the financial statement as Personal support under income). Therefore, individuals and churches have elected to donate to him through AEF International because they believe in the work that is being undertaken and they know that without his role, the work in Asia would be seriously jeopardised.

Every donor to AEF International knows it is not a charity for tax deductible purposes and so it is essential that we are very good stewards of the donations that are received, I hope the above explanation shows that we are achieving this end.’

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is AEFI online giving secure?

  • Nothing said about security on the first page.
    • PayPal is one of the options, so is you use this then, yes, giving will be secure.
  • Ministry comment:
    • ‘We will check this with the website manager and put a statement there confirming that this is the case.’

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (six 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 six months in the past.
  • Ministry comment:
    • ‘Up to date financial information is always available to prospective donors who require it.’

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016: Except for the omission of outcomes, yes.
  • Financial Report 2016: No – totally inadequate. Still.
    • It is well short of what’s required by (a) AEFI’s own requirements (the constitution), (b) Mission Interlink’s standards (it is a member), and (c) the ACNC’s standards.
    • More is missing than is included:
      • Two of the four required financial statements.
      • No Responsible Persons Declaration.
      • No Notes
    • The two statements that are included do not comply with the Accounting Standards – or, in some cases, basic accounting.
      • Including no prior year figures.
    • The auditor, Ernest Painter, has produced an audit report that has almost nothing in common with the contents of one prepared per the Australian Auditing Standards.
  • Ministry comment:
    • ‘In 2017 AEFI will be reviewing its governance including a revision of its current constitution, as well ensuring that its financial reporting meets the requirements of all regulators.’

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • The surplus as a percentage of income was 5%. (No prior year figures for comparison.)
  • Nowhere is there any information about who received the money sent overseas, nor what controls there were to ensure that it was spent on the intended purpose.
  • ‘Employment Expenses’ are 55% of the total.
  • 15 months’ worth of income is held in cash and short-term investments.
  • No obvious concerns with the financial structure – but see the comments under ‘Financial Report 2016’, above.

What did the auditor say about AEFI’s last financial statements?

  • He said that ‘In our view the attached Financial Statements namely Balance Sheet & Profit & Loss Statement may be relied upon by the members.’ However, the fact that his audit report deviates so far from what is required by the Auditing Standards means that you would be entitled to put far less confidence in that opinion than you would normally.

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

  • Yes
    • But a PO Box number is not a ‘Street Address’. It’s not on the website either.

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

  • “General’
  • ‘AEFI Futures Fund’
  • ‘Nepal Earthquake Appeal’
  • ‘Solid Rock Cambodia Hospital’
  • ‘Support the General work of AEFI’ – duplicating the first choice
  • ‘Support a Missionary Trainee’
  • ‘Support a Child
  • ‘Support a Community Project’
  • ‘Support a National Worker’
  • There is a brief description of these, except for ‘Support a Community Project’, elsewhere on the website (either here or the main menu item ‘Support Us’).

Who are the people controlling AEFI?

  • Per the listing under ‘Responsible Persons’ on the ACNC Register:
    • Gilbert Cann
    • Lindsay Casey
    • Raymond Dallin
    • Keith Ireland
    • Jonathan James
    • William Wasserman
    • Kevin Watts
    • Lorraine Wylie
  • Only Raymond Dallin is in the listing on the website.
    • Jonathan James is there too, but as the ‘International Director’, not as a board member.
    • The third person there is the ‘President’, but of what he is the president is not specified.
  • The governance required by the constitution is more complicated:
    • An International Council, a Board of Directors and an International Director shall govern the Corporation.’
      • Their membership of the International Council is not disclosed.
    • Although the members of AEFI are ‘the autonomous chartered national organisations and donor bases known as Asia Evangelistic Fellowship and other organisations…’, it is the International Council that appoints both the Board of Directors and the International Director.
      • Shouldn’t, therefore, the responsible persons on the ACNC Register be the members of the Council?
  • Ministry comment:
    • ‘All the people listed as responsible persons are board members. The President is the President and board member of AEFI. This is clearly established in the constitution. He has a non-executive role and was chosen because of his standing in the Christian community. He represents AEFI in all official functions and is also our key promoter and  deputationist. He is also part of the international leadership team and a member of the international board.
      The constitution is being reviewed in 2017 to ensure it meets our current needs and those of the regulatory bodies’

To whom is AEFI accountable?

  • Not claimed on the website, but AEFI is a member of Missions Interlink.
    • Missions Interlink is an organisation that has standards[2] with which AEFI must comply.
  • AEFI is also accountable to the ACNC.
  • Ministry comment:
    • ‘We are happy to state on our website that we are a member of Missions Interlink and also accountable to ACNC. We are accountable to our donors and we give them up to date ( monthly, quarterly and annual reports) as to the impact of our ministry  and  where their money goes.’

 

 

  1. The law in this area is not straightforward and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.
  2. For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.
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