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Mini charity review for donors: Middle East Christian Outreach (Australia) Inc:

Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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 Middle East Christian Outreach (Australia) Inc (MECO) as an organisation seeking donations. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

Is MECO registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • Other registrations:
    • MECO is a Victorian incorporated association (A0008890J).
    • The ACNC Register shows that it is operating in all eight states, but it does not have the required ARBN registration to allow it to operate outside Victoria.
    • It also doesn’t have a licence to fundraise in the seven states that have a licensing regime.
      • 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.
    • Despite its listing of MECO Australia under ‘Other Name(s) on the ACNC Register, this is not a business name that is registered to MECO.

What do they do?

  • The page for Australia on the MECO International site doesn’t give MECO’s mission, but the mission of the bigger body is to support Middle East Christians in sharing the love of Jesus Christ’.
  • MECO’s Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2015 describes the Australian activities in 2015 this way:
    • Partner in mission with Middle Eastern churches and communicate, in a variety of ways, the beliefs of the Christian faith. The major activities were to – select and support workers from Australia, – (sic) support and care for workers returned from the Middle East, and – (sic) publicise and promote the work of the Association throughout Australia.
      • With no intention of changing in 2016 [AIS 2015].
        • However, in March 2016 they announced a merger with SIM International.

Do they share the Gospel?

  • Assuming that ‘the beliefs of the Christian faith’ is not only about communicating to church members’, then yes.

What impact are they having?

  • They did not respond to the regulator’s request for outcomes in the AIS 2015.
  • Nothing found.

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

  • 56% of expenses in 2014-15, 52% the previous year. (2015-16 not yet lodged.)
    • And this assumes that 100% of the ‘Missionary Partnership’ expense goes on communicating Christian beliefs.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No.

Is their online giving secure?

  • Giving that they use PayPal, yes.

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

  • Two: ‘’General Funds’ or ‘Specified Support’ – although the page following that may break up ‘Specified Support’.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes. (Four and a half months after year end.)
    • But ‘up-to-date’ is a bit misleading – the latest accounts on the ACNC Register are for the year earlier that the one that should be reported on. This mistake means that the accounts there are for a year that finished nearly one and a half years ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2015: Apart from the lack of outcomes, yes.
  • Financial Report 2015: The ACNC would probably pass it but
    • The directors say that MECO ‘is not a reporting entity’, and therefore doesn’t have to comply with all the Accounting Standards, but they don’t say why. What they are effectively saying is that they have no users, either current or prospective, who rely on MECO’s financial statements.
    • The Notes to the accounts are not a complete set.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • No obvious issues in either profitability or financial structure.
    • But I wouldn’t rely on this – the accounts are already over seventeen months old.
    • Nor would I wait until they are updated on the Register: the ACNC doesn’t require them to submit their accounts for the year ended 31 March 2016 until 30 September 2017, by which time they will be up to two and a half years out-of-date.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • He gave a ‘clean’ opinion. To take the right amount of comfort for this finding, please read here and here.
    • But note that he approved of the directors’ decision to produce the type of financial statements that require less disclosure.

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

  • Almost. ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’ are blank.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Not mentioned on the website, so here they are from the ACNC Register:
    • Joshua Aylward
    • Annette Cook
    • Richard Coombs
    • Lorelei Edwardes
    • John Haig
    • Peter Thomas
  • The board is responsible to the members of MECO.

To whom is MECO accountable?

  • They are, apart from the ACNC, accountable because of their membership of Missions Interlink.
    • For one opinion on the strength of that accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

Is it responsive to feedback?

  • When sent a draft of this review, they did not respond.

 

 

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