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A charity review of Bible College of Queensland (BCQ), an organisation that seeks donations online and is an Associate member of Missions Interlink. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)
The previous review, in 2016, is here.
Are they responsive to feedback?
- BCQ does not, on its website, invite feedback.
- I sent them a draft of this review. Like last time, they…did not respond.
Is BCQ registered?
- As a charity, yes.
- BCQ is a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
- It is permitted to omit ‘Ltd/Limited’ at the end of its name.
- It has three business names, Brisbane School of Theology, Bible College of Queensland, and Centre for Asian Christianity.
- BCQ operates in Australia, per the ACNC Register, only in Queensland. It solicits donations via the internet.
- It has a fundraising licence only in Queensland. Whether it needs one in the other four states that have a licensing regime for charities depends on whether those states think that BCQ, by calling for donations on their website, are ‘fundraising’ in their State.
- BCQ does not, per the ACNC Register, operate overseas.
- Why then the membership of Missions Interlink, ‘the Australian network for global mission’?
What does BCQ do?
- It’s in the name. For how they do it, start here.
- To students, undoubtedly. But the grant of tax-deductible status suggests that the use of the money raised shouldn’t include proselytising.
What impact are they having?
- Nothing systematic found.
What do they spend outside the costs directly incurred in delivering the above impact, that is, on administration?
- The expenses are insufficiently disclosed to allow an estimation of this.
Do they pay their board members?
- This is not permitted under BCQ’s constitution.
- There is insufficient information about the expenses to check for these payments.
Can you get a tax deduction?
- Their ABN record says that you can. Both to BCQ itself, and to either of its two funds, Qld Bible Institute College Building & Maintenance Account, and Bible College of Queensland Library Fund.
- But this is contradicted by the existence of a giving option (see below) that is not tax-deductible.
Is BCQ’s online giving secure?
- Mycause.com.au is used, and security is not mentioned on their first page.
Is the reporting up-to-date?
- Yes (five months after their year-end, over two months 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 14 months in the past.
Does BCQ’s reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?
- AIS 2016: No
- ‘Other income’ is incorrect. (With a consequence that ‘All other revenue’ and ‘Total revenue’ are also incorrect.) It matches neither the ACNC’s definition, nor the accounts.
- No outcomes are reported.
- Financial Report 2016: Yes?
- The items classified as ‘Other income’ are as much revenue as the items included under ‘Revenue’. Revenue is therefore understated by $201K.
- There is still no explanation for the non-standard practice of separating ‘Building Improvements’ and ‘Building development costs’ from ‘Buildings’.
- The disclosure of revenue still includes a combined revenue figure for ‘Student fees, board and functions’ $1.23m.
- For other observations, see this footnote.
What financial situation was shown by that Report?
- The surplus as a percentage of revenue (adjusted – see above) was still negative, at 3%, but down from last year’s 8%.
- The wages bill is unchanged from last year’s 70% of expenses.
- From the workforce disclosed in the AIS 2016, and assuming the casuals average 10% of full-time and the part-timers 50%, this represents an average package of $69K p.a.
- The margin of current assets over current liabilities (working capital), declined from 1.8 times to 1.3 times.
- The holding of land and buildings means that the long-term financial structure is sound.
What did the auditor say about the group’s last financial statements?
- The auditor, Liam Murphy, for PKF Hacketts Audit, gave a ‘clean’ opinion.
- Before you decide how much comfort to take from this opinion, read about audits here and here.
If a charity, is their information on the ACNC Register complete/correct?
- Except for the omission of one business name, yes.
What choices do you have in how your donation is used?
- ‘Give a gift to our General Fund to be used where it is needed most (not tax-deductible)’
- ‘Support our Centre for Asian Christianity as we equip Christians for contextual Asian ministry’
- ‘Make a tax-deductible gift and invest in our Library Fund’
- ‘Make a tax-deductible gift and invest in our Building Fund’
Where were your (net) donations sent?
Who are the people controlling BCQ?
- Shown on the website here.
- Which are the same people shown on the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’):
- The board is responsible to the members. There were 21 of these at 31 December 2017 (Directors’ Report, Financial Report 2016). As directors must be members (the constitution), 12 outside the board provides some accountability.
To whom is BCQ accountable?
- As a charity, to the ACNC.
- Not claimed on the website, but BCQ is a member of Missions Interlink, an organisation that has standards with which BCQ must comply.
- For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.
- BCQ, as a company, is still accountable for some things to ASIC.
- “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. ↑
- If interest is accrued (Note 1 a), why is the revenue identical to the cash amount?There is still no item in ‘Cash Flows from Operating Activities’ that includes the donations.Neither fundraising nor administration costs are disclosed.There is still no explanation for the unusual item ‘Rental of communication tower’ (7+% of revenue).One of the items of ‘Property, Plant and Equipment’ is still ‘Plant and Equipment’. What’s in it?The figure for provisions in Note 10 does not match the figures in the Statement of Financial Position.
We are still not told (a) the functional and presentation currencies, and (b) whether the directors have the power to amend and reissue the financial statements.
There’s still no policy Note ‘New, revised or amending Accounting Standards and Interpretations adopted’ ↑