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Church Missionary Society NSW & ACT Ltd: 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Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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 Church Missionary Society NSW & ACT Ltd (CMSN&A) as an organisation that seeks donations[1]. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

Is CMSN&A registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
    • CMSN& A is a charity, according to Note 2 in its Financial Report 2015 (see below), that controls another charity, Church Missionary Society Trust Limited (the Trust).
      • It has not taken advantage of the ACNC’s group reporting concessions.
      • According to the Financial Report 2015 of the Trust, it is the trustee for CMSN&A.
        • How this is possible if CMSN&A is not a trust is not explained.
        • The same Report says that the Trust is also the trustee of Church Missionary Society – Australia Limited.
          • That charity is also not a trust.
        • If CMSN&A deems that it controls the Trust, then why not also Church Missionary Society – Australia Limited?
        • The Trust holds the real property of the companies yet there are no properties in its Balance Sheet.
  • Other registrations:
    • As a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
    • CMSN&A operates – according to the ACNC Register – in NSW and the ACT. But it is registered in none of the seven states, including NSW and the ACT, that have a licensing regime.
      • The law in this area is not straightforward and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.

What do they do?

  • There is no description on the website, but you can get a very good idea from the Annual Report.
    • ‘Strategies’ (page 4 of the accounts):
      • To raise awareness of world mission and educate Christian churches in NSW and ACT about the importance of God’s mission in the world.
      • To raise support of those being sent out. This is both financial support through charitable fund raising, and prayer support.
      • To communicate with supporters through letters, videos and publications in order to provide information about the needs of the church worldwide, the opportunities for involvement in world mission and to help people take their place in God’s world mission.
      • Providing resources for individuals and churches interested in finding out more about world mission.
      • To run and promote activities that reach a cross section of church members of all ages and differing circumstances.
    • ‘Principal activities’ (page 4 of the accounts)
      • CMS Summer School. CMS Summer School is an annual week long conference held in Katoomba and attended by up to 3,000 members and supporters of the company.
      • General Committee. This is an elected body of members and meets 5 times per year. As a representative group of our key stake holders, the General Committee gives feedback about the effectiveness of the work that is done in service of our missionaries and supporter base.
      • Youth and children’s camps. These are held each year in Katoomba for primary and secondary school students. The aim is to provide a fun environment where children also learn about God’s work in the worldwide church.
      • Conferences for retirees. These are aimed at older members and supporters.
      • Publications. A number of publications are produced to appeal to a variety of people and provide information on current activities as well as encouraging people to become more engaged with global mission through CMS. These include emails, videos and printed media such as letters, newsletters and magazines.
      • Visiting churches. Missionaries on “home assignment“ and staff of the company regularly visit churches, speak at church services and liaise with church leaders.
      • Meetings. Throughout the year, regional meetings are held throughout NSW and ACT to encourage and raise support in more rural regions. Members of staff of the company also meet on an individual basis with any person interested in being sent to serve overseas.
      • Fund raising. Charitable fund raising is carried out throughout the year. This is done mainly through our individual members and supporters as well as churches with whom we have an existing relationship and not by appeal to the general public

Do they share the Gospel?

  • No, not according to the above information.

What impact are they having?

  • No information found. (The performance indicators in the Directors’ Report do not include any impact measures.)

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

  • If ‘Missionary Support’ is defined as the money that goes to achieve the impact, then 34% is administration.
    • ‘Employment expenses’ are 19% of total expenses.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • Not for a donation to CMSN&A.
    • Nevertheless, the giving page that they use, the one belonging to Christian Missionary Society – Australia Ltd, does offer tax-deductible giving.
    • That they are collecting donations for another charity (see Financial Report 2015, below) and including them in revenue means that revenue is overstated.

Is their online giving secure?

  • Security is not mentioned.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (lodged just before the last day allowed, seven 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 nearly 15 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2015: Not quite – no outcomes are given.
  • Financial Report 2015: No
    • The directors say that CMSN&A has ‘no users who are dependent on its financial statements. This allows them to prepare the type of statements that do not need to comply with all the Accounting Standards. Elsewhere in the Financial Report they say that CMSN&A has 129 missionaries, 5802 individual donors, 445 donor churches, and 757 company members. Their decision implies that these thousands of users, plus all prospective users, have the capacity to ask CMSN&A to tailor a financial report to their needs. It is therefore very hard to see how this is a correct decision.
    • 19% of the $6.96 m donations revenue was ‘Contributions to Tax Deductible Funds’. As CMSN&A doesn’t have any such funds, this money must have been received for a third party. Revenue is therefore overstated by this amount.
    • The statement is called Statement of Comprehensive Income, but none is shown.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • No obvious concerns.
    • Consolidated ‘Cash and cash equivalents’ plus ‘Financial assets’ represents just over eight months’ revenue.

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 see the three points above under ‘Financial Report 2015’.

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

  • Not quite. CMSN&A is, at least according to the ACNC, long overdue in selecting an Entity Subtype.

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

  • Having been redirected from the CMSSA page to the ‘Give to CMS’ page, that is, to Christian Missionary Society – Australia Ltd’s giving page, your choices are:
    • ‘General Missionary Support’
    • ‘General Tax Deductible Gift’
    • ‘A particular worker’ (with a dropdown listing all the workers)
    • ‘Other’

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • The people shown here.

To whom are CMSN&A accountable?

  • Although not mentioned on their webpage, they are accountable as a Member of Missions Interlink[2].
  • They are also accountable to the ACNC.

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • When sent a draft of this review, they did not respond[3].

 

 

  1. Although CMSQN has no invitation to give on its own webpages on the Christian Missionary Society – Australia Ltd site, the invitation to give by the ‘parent’ remains accessible on those webpages.
  2. For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.
  3. Two of the ACNC Register omissions, plus a mistake on the ABN record, were corrected subsequent to the receipt of the draft review.
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