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‘CMS’ Queensland with northern NSW: charity review

Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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.

This is a review[1] in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink’, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission’[2] (and a means for a Member to get income tax exemption when it might not otherwise be available[3]). ‘Church Missionary Society (QLD & NNSW)’ ‘is one such member.

The link from the Missions Interlink membership is broken, but a Google search gives a website in the name ‘CMS QNNSW’. Here they seek online donations.

Covid-19 no separate message on the website.


Given what Missions Interlink does, ‘Church Missionary Society (QLD & NNSW)’ is probably a charity.

The charities’ regulator, the ACNC, in their article, Donating to Legitimate Charities, gives “some things to consider to help you make sure your donation is going where it is intended”:

  1. Check the charity’s name.
  2. Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
  3. Be careful of online requests for donations.
  4. No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here’s the results for ‘Church Missionary Society (QLD & NNSW) with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’sWhat should I consider when deciding which charity to support?’[4]

1.  A search on the ACNC Register of charities gives no result in that name; going to just ‘Church Missionary Society’ gives a charity, in a slightly different name, Church Missionary Society Queensland With Northern NSW (CMSQNNSW).

  • CMSQNNSW, an incorporated association, appears to have been registered without the normal obligatory ‘Inc’ or ‘Incorporated’ on the end of its name.
  • CMSQNNSW has the ARBN that it requires because it operates across states.
  • Neither of the names it uses on the website, ‘CMS QNNSW’ or ‘CMS QLD & NNSW’ have been registered as a business name.


2.  There is nothing to suggest that CMSQNNSW fundraise door-to-door or in the street.


3.  The web address begins with a closed padlock symbol, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above]. But there is nothing about security on the giving page.


4.  The Australian Business Register (linked from CMSQNNSW’s ACNC Register record), says that the charity is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts. We have seen above, however, that CMSQNNSW is a ‘legitimate charity’.

The Register information does not match the information on the giving page:

This is because, as you can see from the bottom of this page, you are giving to another charity, Church Missionary Society – Australia Ltd (CMS-A).  No explanation is given for this.


5.   The use of your donations

As context, what do CMSQNNSW do? Neither their Register entry, nor their AIS 2019 give the answer – they are about CMS-A – but there two paragraphs on the website.

The audited account of how a charity uses donations is the Financial Report on the ACNC Register.

Directors have a choice between two kinds of reports, special purpose or general purpose. The requirements of the former are less onerous than the latter.

CMSQNNSW’s auditor, Daniel Gill, is a partner in Pilot Partners. This is what his professional body, Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand, has to say about the choice between the two types of reports[5]:

With 9 employees, 105 volunteers [AIS 2019], $1.54 million in donations from individual and churches across two states [Financial Report 2019], and missionaries in various countries, it is hard to see how a special purpose report is the right choice. But that is the choice that the directors of CMSN&A made.

And the auditor, a Chartered Accountant, agreed with them.

One of the implications of their choice is that you can ring CMSQNNSW’s office and request that they prepare financial statements that answer the question or questions you have about the charity. I strongly doubt that they will agree[6]. And if they don’t then the accounts presented by the directors are not for you. In fact, by preparing special purpose statements, they imply that you don’t exist[7].

Other issues with the Financial Report

  • The most prominent thing on the cover of the Financial Report is the logo of the auditor, Pilot Partners, and a large image that appears to be associated with them. Then every page of the Report, except the first, has the same logo at the top of the page. As the Report belongs to CMSQNNSW, and independence of the auditor from the client must be both actual and perceived, this is inappropriate.


Here are the directors who approved the Financial Report 2019:

Mark Fairhurst

John Hagidimitrou

Martin Hawkins

Ron Herbert

Audrey Jordan

Peter Kidd

Colin Law

Johnson Leung

Sheila Milton

Joy Palmer

Gus Robinson

Susan Smith

Robert Stanley

Mike Upton

Simon Waller

Selena Yen [Branch Council’s Report][8]

The current members are not shown on the CMSQNNSW website. The listing on the ACNC Register shows that Milton and Palmer have gone from the board.

The use of your donations

If you are still prepared to consider a donation to CMSQNNSW, here is how the donations were used:

Cash spent

From the Statement of Cash Flows (with last year in the second column):

It’s two lines more than most charities have, but because no further information is given on these figures, we don’t have enough information to know where the cash went.

Resources consumed (i.e. accrual)

This, from the Statement of Profit or Loss and Other Comprehensive Income, is how the activities translated into expenses[9] (with last year in the second column):

There is no explanation of the largest item, ‘Missionary Support to CMS – Australia’ in the audited accounts. But this is in the Branch Council’s Report:

There is no comment (in either place) about the control (if any) that CMSQNNSW has over the amount that has to be paid to CMS-A.


Nothing systematic found.

Charity response

Both Members and Associates have to accept a set of standards, the introduction to which includes this statement:

We sent CMSQNNSW a draft of this review on 20 April. At the time of publication, over two weeks later, they had not responded.



  1. See here for the previous review.
  2. https://missionsinterlink.org.au/about/
  3. Focus on the nature of the charity’s work, its beneficiaries and the impact the charity is having in the community. Is it clear what the charity is trying to achieve and how its activities work towards its objectives? Would you like to spend your money, or time if volunteering, to support these objectives? Is the charity being transparent about its activities? [A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering].
  4. Enhancing Not-for-Profit Annual and Financial Reporting, March 2013, accessed from their website March 2020.
  5. The accounting profession says that you are therefore ‘potentially interested in the information provided in general purpose financial reports’. [From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au].
  6. The directors omitted to state whether or not CMSQNNSW was a ‘reporting entity’ and why.
  7. The directors are accountable to the members. The number of members is not disclosed.
  8. Question to CMSQNNSW: why alphabetical right up to the last two expenses?