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Mini-review of Bridgeway Publishing Foundation Trust (BP) as an organisation that seeks donations online, and is a member of Missions Interlink. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)
See here for last year’s review.
Is it responsive to feedback?
- When sent a draft of this review, on 19 June 2017, they one correction. Additional information was added as a result.
Is BP registered?
- As a charity, yes.
- BP is an unincorporated entity. It is a trust, governed by a trust deed.
- It operates (per the ACNC Register) in NSW, Queensland and Victoria. It asks for donations on the internet. It has no fundraising licences[i].
- BP trades under the name ‘Bridgeway Publications’. Although an ASIC search shows this name as being owned by three of the five directors, this appears to be a limitation of the ASIC system – BP have shown that it is owned by all five.
What do they do?
How Bridgeway works
The way Bridgeway works is that volunteer couples pack and post books and handle the correspondence with those who receive the books and those who sponsor them, but also encourage Christians here in Australia to pay for them. We have no staff, no office, no vehicles, no equipment, no independent funds. We all work from our homes, yet over the years we have been able to send over a million books to people all over Africa and Asia.
From time to time we get some additional gifts of money that we can pass on. Out of the thousands of people who’ve received Bridgeway books, we have over the years been gradually forming a group of people and ministries (more than seventy in number, and spread around more than twenty countries of Africa and Asia) who to us are special in some way and to whom we may send a gift of money every now and then. Nothing regular. This money comes from a variety of people, some anonymous, some who give to Bridgeway.
Do they share the Gospel?
- No. The trust deed says the fund is to help those who are already Christians:
- The Founder wishes to establish a non-profit fund exclusively for the purposes of providing money, literature, property and/or benefits to or for Christians, Christian Churches and Christian organisations in developing countries and nations.
What impact are they having?
- No information found.
What do they spend outside the costs directly incurred in delivering the above impact, that is, administration?
- No financial information is published. (No Financial Report is required due to BP size; no financial information is required in the Annual Information Statement because BP is a basic religious charity.
Can you get a tax deduction?
Is their online giving secure?
What choices do you have in how your (online) donation is used?
Is their reporting up-to-date?
- Yes (four months after their year-end).
Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?
- AIS 2016: Almost – no outcomes are reported
- The description of activities is the same as for 2014 and 2015. Last year BP said that this was because the activities do remain the same year to year.
- The usual financial information is absent because, as a Basic Religious Charity (see below), BP is exempt from supplying any such information (and chose not to submit it voluntarily).
- Financial Report 2016: NA
- Even if they weren’t a Small charity, and therefore exempt from lodging a Financial Report, they would still be exempt because of their status as a Basic Religious Charity.
- BP could have voluntarily lodged their report with the ACNC, but they chose not to.
- The trust deed requires an annual audit, and because the fund is a ‘non-profit public fund’ that solicits donations from the public, it seems reasonable that the public have access to the result.
- Although not mentioned by it on its website, BP is a member of Missions Interlink. One of their requirements is that members ‘have available for its members and supporters a clear and appropriate financial statement which has been approved by its auditor [Standards Statement, 4.1]. So again public access would seem to be reasonable.
- Last year BP commented that “We have no issue with fulfilling Mission Interlink’s requirements and have provided appropriate financial information on supporter’s requests in times past.”
What financial situation was shown in that Report?
What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?
If a charity, is their information on the ACNC Register complete?
- Even though BP supplies ‘money, literature, property and/or benefits’ to multiple overseas countries, it has decided that, for the ACNC’s purposes, it does not operate overseas.
- Last year they said ‘“We understand the need to be listed as medium size charity as a result of increased support in the last 2 financial years.” They have yet to make the change.
Who are the people controlling the organisation?
- Not shown on the website.
- Per the ACNC Register (‘Responsible persons’):
- Michael Conolly
- Gordon Cowell
- Donald Fleming
- Ian Fletcher
- Stephen Stathis
To whom is BP accountable?
- The law in this area is not straightforward – is an internet invitation ‘fundraising’ for instance? – and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions. ↑