Care: At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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 email@example.com.
This is a review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink’, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission’. Members must sign up to a set of standards, and this, at least on paper, makes them a better bet for your donations (or other involvement).
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”:
- Check the organisation’s name.
- Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
- Be careful of online requests for donations.
- No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
- Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.
A search of the Register of charities gives a registered charity in the name Crossway Baptist Church Inc (Crossway). The Register entry shows that Crossway is a member of an ACNC Group. These are the members of that Group:
They are grouped because Crossway controls the other three.
Crossway holds no registered business names, so should not be trading under anything other than its full name.
Although they fundraise, as a church one would not expect Crossway to use door-to-door or street fundraisers. And there is nothing to suggest that they do.
The web address begins with a closed padlock symbol, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above]. But on the giving pages there is nothing about the security of your personal information. (The Pushpay logo is at the bottom of each page. On the Pushpay website information about security is relegated to the footer.)
‘Will my donation be tax deductible?’ [Crossway’s Register entry] says it operates two funds that allow it to do offer a tax deduction:
Although the Financial Report 2019 says (Note 1 (o)) that Crossway ‘operates’ the two tax deductible funds above, there is no further information about them, and nothing on the website.
From the information in Question 1 (above), and the lack of any mention of the ‘Crossway CRE Fund’ on the website, it appears that this fund has been converted into a company. There is no mention of giving on that company’s webpage.
The other Fund appears not to be used any longer.
With the above explanations, the giving page then makes sense:
But the reporting of the donations [Note 2, Financial Report 2019] does not match the above information:
‘General Offerings’ 6.39 million
‘Donations Community’ 1.85 million
‘Christmas Appeal income’ 304K
‘Missions income’ 201K
‘Welfare fund income’ 72K
There is no explanation of these items.
Other than the identification of the Kingdom Fund as being part of Crossway, there is no information on it in the Financial Report 2019.
Activities: see ‘Ministries’ in the main menu.
- One of these ‘ministries’ is ‘Praxeis’. This is confusing:
- Although not mentioned anywhere, this is a separate registered charity.
- But they operate from the same address, and the Senior Pastor of Crossway is on the Board of Praxeis.
- And a report on its activities and results is included in Crossway’s Annual Report
- But it is not included in the ACNC Group (see above).
- And the relationship is not disclosed in the Financial Report 2019.
- A footnote to the statistics implies that Praxeis is a separate organisation.
As for what Crossway did in 2019, see the 2019 Crossway Annual Report.
Sharing the Gospel?
Crossway operates in Australia, per the Register, in all states except the Northern Territory and the ACT. But there are only ‘campuses’ in Victoria. Nothing could be found to support the inclusion of the other five states.
How activities translated into dollars spent
The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report 2019 on the ACNC Register.
The directors (unidentified) signed a Statement by Members of the Board that included this declaration [Financial Report 2019]:
For this to be true the financial statements had to comply, at a minimum, with the Australian Accounting Standards (AASs) [www.aasb.gov.au]. In turn, this means that the directors must present you with sufficient information to understand the full situation and performance of Crossway.
But there are material deviations from these Standards. So, no, the Report doesn’t present a ‘true and fair view’.
Special purpose financial statements
First up, they chose the lower-standard financial statements (called ‘special purpose’). This means that the directors can report less than they otherwise would have had to.
General purpose financial statements are the type that are designed for users who cannot ‘command the preparation of (financial) reports tailored so as to satisfy specifically all of their information needs’. Can you ring the Crossway office and get them to do this for you? I doubt it. Even if you can, can all the 2134 members [Annual Report]? It stretches credulity to think that they all have this kind of power.
This means that special purpose statements was the wrong choice.
The auditor, Jeffrey Tulk, a Principal in Saward Dawson, agreed with the Board’s choice. This is a highly questionable decision, both because of the argument given above and this opinion of his professional body:
- In addition to the 2134 members, there are many other stakeholders of the Crossway charities.
- Most of the stakeholders are not involved in the management of Crossway (the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2019 discloses a paid workforce of 128).
- Crossway’s community impact is large.
- Over 87% of its revenue came from donations.
Given this, special purpose statements again look completely unsupportable.
The disclosure of the expensesis an inadequate communication of how $11.45 million of resources were consumed:
- There is no obvious logic to the order of the expenses.
- None of the expenses are explained. And some of them are far from industry standard terms.
- What is ‘Generational Ministry expense’? And ‘Experience expense’?
- What is the difference between the two coaching expenses?
- It is a mixed classification (function and nature).
- Administration and building expenses have been combined.
- Yet ‘Depreciation and amortisation’ is separate.
- There is little match between the expenses and the way Crossway says that it is organised (in its Annual Report):
The evidence points to a false declaration of a true and fair view.
The logo of the auditor, Saward Dawson is on the cover of the Financial Report 2019, and more prominently than Crossway’s information. Given the importance of independence of the audit function, this is inappropriate.
The auditor charged $26K (no change from the previous year).
One of the board members had a conflict of interest in 2019, the management of which was not disclosed:
The use of donations
If you are still willing to rely on the accounts, the Statement of Income & Expenditure and Other Comprehensive Income shows the expenses for 2019. These were the ones that were over $250K:
Administration & Facility expense 2.90 million
International ministry expense 1.72 million
Generational Ministry expense 1.43 million
Depreciation and amortisation expense 1.11 million
Experience expense 764K
Building a Discipleship Culture, Missional Communities & Prayer expense 629K
Care & Community Life Ministry expense 490k
Cafeteria expense 455K
Coaching expense 353K
Counselling expense 333K
Coach program expense 314K
From the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2019:
The employees cost $6.32 million ($5.46 million the previous year) [Note 3, Financial Report 2019].
- That’s an average of $82K per FTE employee.
Money given to ‘other missions’ was $49K. Less than ½% of total expenses. Only one expense was smaller.
The amount ‘set aside for the purpose of reaching the unreached people group of the 10/40 window’ (the Strategic Missions Reserve) is 20% of the created reserves, and ½% of equity.
The directors in office at the time of the approval of the accounts are not identified, but these are the Responsible People now:
Dale Stephenson (Senior Pastor)
Scott Pilgrim (Executive Pastor)
He is also the Executive Director of this charity.
See this review.
The introduction to the Mission Interlink standards (see above) includes this statement:
We sent them a draft of this review. They…did not respond.
- https://missionsinterlink.org.au/about/. And a means for a Member (not an Associate) to get income tax exemption when it might not otherwise be available. ↑
- 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]. ↑
- This is the current campaign: ↑
- ‘https’ does not, as implied by the ACNC, appear in all browsers. ↑
- ‘When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett says this about sharing the Gospel: ‘A host of contextual issues determine the best manner and the appropriate time to present the gospel verbally, particularly in militant Muslim or Hindu settings. But without such a presentation, it is not possible for people to be personally transformed in all their relationships, which is what poverty alleviation is all about [Kindle Locations 1262-1264, Moody Publishers]. ↑
- Enhancing Not-for-Profit Annual and Financial Reporting, March 2013, accessed from their website March 2020. ↑
- From the Statement of Income & Expenditure and Other Comprehensive Income [Financial Report 2019] (with the previous year in the second column): ↑