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Darwin Baptist Church

Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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 in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink’, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission’[1]. Members must sign up to a set of standards, and this, at least on paper, makes them a better bet for your givingno  (or other involvement).

‘Darwin Baptist Church’ is one such member, an Associate.

The website linked from the Missions Interlink membership goes to a website in the name ‘Darwin Baptist church’. Here they offer online giving.


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 organisation’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 ‘Darwin Baptist Church’, with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[2]

Question 1

A search of the Register of charities gives a registered charity in the name Darwin Baptist Church Inc. (DBC).

DBC has business names registered. It should therefore be using the full name with the public. On neither its website nor Facebook is it doing this.

Question 2

As a church, one would not expect DBC to use door-to-door or street fundraisers.  And there is nothing to suggest that they do.

Question 3

The web address begins with a closed padlock symbol, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above[3]]. Two online giving services are offered on the giving page. Tithe.ly and Giveway. On neither of the subsequent pages is there information about the security of your information.

Question 4

It would be unusual for a church to be entitled to receive tax deductible gifts, and indeed ‘Will my donation be tax deductible?’ [DBC’s Register entry] says that it isn’t.

There is nothing to contradict this on the website.

Question 5

The context

Vision, values and beliefs

‘Ministries’: from ‘Church Ministries’ in the main menu:

Sharing the Gospel[4]?



DBC’ AIS 2019 says it operates only in the Northern Territory. However, by sending money overseas, shown in the AIS 2019, they also ‘operate’ overseas.

The Financial Report 2019 does not identify the country or countries[5].

How activities translated into dollars spent

The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report 2019 on the ACNC Register.

  • The cover of the Report implies that he is also the author of the Report. If this is the case, you can ignore the audit report.

The directors – ‘People responsible’, below – signed a declaration [Financial Report 2019] that

For this to be true the financial statements had to comply, at a minimum, with the Australian Accounting Standards (AASs) [www.aasb.gov.au].

But there are material deviations from these Standards:

  • Two of the four financial statements required by the Accounting Standards re missing.
  • The Statement of Income and Expenditure is materially divergent from what is required by the Accounting Standards.
  • In the Balance Sheet:
    • The treatment of buildings is contrary to what is required by the Standards[6].
    • It is likely that ‘Special Offerings/Gifts’ should not be included as liabilities.
  • There is only one Note in the Notes to and Forming Part of the Accounts, and that is grossly deficient.
  • The directors have not used all the Accounting Standards required by law.

So, no, the Report doesn’t ‘present fairly’.

In addition, the Committee members’ choice of special purpose financial statements, as opposed to general purpose[7], is highly questionable[8].

If you are still prepared to rely on such a Report, you should know that the auditor, David Martin, Chartered Accountant, did not give the Report a ‘clean’ opinion:

The reason for the less than ‘clean’ opinion was that he deemed it not ‘practicable’ to test whether all the cash received by DBC made it into the accounting records:

He doesn’t say why it wasn’t ‘practicable’, nor how much of the revenue is involved. But the amount is enough to cause him to conclude that there is a material misstatement in the Report.

The Committee members don’t mention of this deficiency in the Report – which is a concern.

People responsible

From the Statement by the Executive Committee [Financial Report 2019], these were the people responsible for the accounts:

Malcolm Sercombe

Debbie Beutel

Bevan Richardson

Mark Elkington

Dot Meakins

Joshua Ingrames

Neal Watson

Is it this Neal Watson?

Since then, Debbie, Mark and Joshua have been replaced by

Stephen Fletcher

Prossor Jeffrey (the wrong way round?)

Holden Russell

This is from the ACNC Register – DBC doesn’t show the Committee on its website.

The use of donations

If, after all the above information, you are still prepared to rely on the Report, the Statement of Income & Expenditure (sic) shows the expenses for 2019:

Employees 405K

‘Operations and Finance’ 110K

‘Missionary Support’ 63K

‘Training and Resources’ 11K

‘Children and Youth’ 10K

‘Miscellaneous’ 10K

‘Discipling and Pastoral Care’ 8K

‘Outreach and Mission’ 7K

‘Church Property’ 6K

Total 633K[9]

  • The AIS 2019 shows that the 405K, 64% of the expenses, was seven employees:

  • ‘Missionary Support’ was 10% of the total and declined $9K.
  • Employees, administration and property comprised 82% of the total.


Nothing on impact was found.

DBC’s response

The introduction to the Mission Interlink standards (see above) includes this statement:

We sent them a draft of this review. They…did not respond.




  1. 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.
  2. 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].
  3. ‘https’ does not, as implied by the ACNC, appear in all browsers.
  4. ‘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].
  5. Contrary to what they report in their AIS 2019.
  6. Contrary to the law, the Committee members don’t say why they made this choice, but it implies that all the people and organisations that have a need, or might need, DBCs statements, have the ability to ring up DBC’s office and commission a tailored report.
  7. Our rounding with the individual items means that they do not equal this total from the accounts.