Care: At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a review in the series ‘Organisations accredited by the CMA Standards Council’. The CMA Standards Council is ‘a ministry of Christian Ministry Advancement’, with a mission “to help build faith and trust in Christian organisations, be they churches, charities, schools or otherwise, to enable them to achieve more effective outcomes. ‘FEBC Australia’ (FEBC) is one of these accredited organisations.
FEBC is also a Member of Missions Interlink, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission’. The review is therefore simultaneously a review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink.’
The specific comments that FEBC made in response to a draft of this review have been included below.
FEBC is an organisation that seeks donations online. 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 charity’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.
1. A search on the ACNC Register of charities for ‘FEBC Australia’ brings up a charity in the name Far East Broadcasting Co (Australia). This is because this charity has ‘FEBC Australia’ recorded as another name by which it is known.
3. The “web address begins with ‘https’”, and there is “a closed padlock symbol next to the web address in the address bar”, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above].
But on the giving page there is no mention of the security of your information.
4. The Australian Business Register (linked from FEBC’s ACNC Register record), says that the charity is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts.
Although this is supported by the initial page from the ‘Donate’ button, it is contradicted by this invitation on the next page:
The reconciliation lies in the fact that FEBC controls other entities, and these don’t have their own website. Two of these entities (there are three) have deductible gift recipient (DGR) status: FEBC Overseas Fund and FEBC Relief.
The Paypal button above leads to a form for FEBC Relief. There is no online donation facility for the other charity that has DGR status. In fact, it is not mentioned on the website.
5. The use of your donations
Objects / Mission
Ministry comment: ‘FEBC AU mission same as whole global assoc. – to inspire people to follow Jesus Christ … This indeed happens even here in Australia as people engage their hearts in God’s mission for the world, as they pray and give… it inspires them to walk closer, following Jesus. Our Christian life is a journey and we want to inspire people to follow Jesus in all of life. Bringing wholeness of life to people in disadvantaged communities allows this as does so many of our projects.’
The Constitution has ‘Company Objects’ but they are objects that are not pursued directly by FEBC, but indirectly by funding the work of overseas FEBC organisations.
From the (Group) Financial Report 2018:
That is, a fundraiser for (unspecified) ‘International Programs’ (see below).
The Annual Report 2017-2018 expands on this:
To see the activities that are funded overseas by the donations passed on by FEBC, read the Annual Report 2017-2018.
Sharing the Gospel[ix]?
No, not directly – FEBC funds the sharing of the Gospel overseas.
FEBC operates in Australia, per the ACNC Register, in every State.
Other than deductible versus non-deductible, none. ______________________________________________________
Ministry comment: ‘Finances in place are audited, approved by ACNC, the Board, and are above reproach – maximising ministry impact.’
Reviewer response: Financial statement audits have well-known limitations. No, finances are not approved by the ACNC – they don’t have the resources to check all submissions, let alone your internal procedures. There are many examples of Board’s approving things that later turned out to be wrong, unwise or capable of improvement.
The audited account of how donations are used is the (Group) Financial Report 2018 on the ACNC Register. Although the Report is entitled ‘Far East Broadcasting Co (Australia) and Controlled Entities’, it is not clear that it contains consolidated financial statements (‘consolidated’ is not mentioned). The AIS that accompanied the Report said that the Report was not ‘consolidated with more than one entity’.
From the Report:
So, no distinction between tax-deductible and non-tax-deductible money.
FEBC also receives revenue from the investment of past revenue, including donations, not used on spreading the Gospel. At 30 June 2018, it held $2.50 million in financial assets. No reason is given in the Financial Report for holding this much unspent when donations and bequests are normally around $1.6 million p.a.
The answer is in the annual reports of two of its leaders (in the Annual Report 2017-2018). FEBC says that it is a ‘faith mission’:
The Chairman counters this a little, saying that they have decided that this strategy poses an unacceptable risk:
This is the only information about where the cash went on operating activities:
Resources consumed (i.e. accrual)
The accrual section of the Report is more helpful:
What’s in each of these items is not given in the Report – nor in the Annual Report 2017-2018.
The employee benefits expense is not disclosed, but the Group AIS 2018 gives ‘Employee expenses’ as $372K, an average of $74K per full-time equivalent employee.
According to the ACNC Register, the people responsible for the reporting decision (and all other decisions), the ‘Responsible People’, are
Kuet Quen Ho
Peter Ronald Elliott, and
There is no explanation for the substantial spending on this item. What is the distinction between this and ‘fundraising’?
Destination of the ‘Funds to International Programs’
There is no disclosure in the Financial Report 2018 of the geographical destination of your funds. The Annual Report 2017-2018 (page 18) gives the percentage of an unspecified total for each of 17 countries plus ‘Shortwave broadcasts’.
How they ensured that the money was used for the purpose for which you gave it
There is no information on this.
Ministry comment: ‘All money is used effectively for the purposes given – and this is further reinforced by physical monitoring visits to ensure good governance in place and outcomes achieved.’
There is no information on the impact of the Australian dollars.
Although there are many accounts of outcomes for FEBC globally on the website, no systematic study of the impact of FEBC was found.
Please contact me if you need a more in-depth review.
- Link added by me. ↑
- Emphasis in original. ↑
- Under the name ‘Far East Broadcasting Co Australia’. ↑
- https://missionsinterlink.org.au/about/ ↑
- FEBC says thatNumber 8 of the CMA Standards Council’s ‘Nine Principles of Ministry Accountability‘ is ‘The organisation must be transparent and accountable to its stakeholders’. One of the nine ‘Standards’ that ‘fall under’ that principle is about openness and responsiveness to feedback:
With Missions Interlink, both Members and Associates have to accept a set of standards, the introduction to which includes this statement:
- See here for my last review. ↑
- 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]. ↑
- It has it registered as a business name (see www.asic.gov.au). ↑
- The ACNC provides for an annual report to be lodged on the Register, but FEBC has chosen not to do this. ↑
- Not only this, but the announcement of FEBC Relief Limited in 2017, read as if the existing DGR entity, FEBC Overseas Fund, didn’t exist; Note 17 in the Financial Report – a report that covers all four entities – shows that FEBC Overseas Aid (sic) Fund received $42,803 in donations in 2017-18. ↑
- The mission referred to in this report is the mission of FEBC International. For example, ↑
- Some of the dates on the ACNC Register are incorrect: FEBC did not last report on 8 February 2017, but on 11 March 2019 (as part of the Group); FEBC next report is not due 31 March 2021, but by 31 March 2020 (as part of the Group). There are similar mistakes for the other two charities in the Group. ↑
- FEBC’s information on the ACNC Register about activities is a combination of what FEBC does and what the overseas arms of FEBC does. The Group entry has the same mistake. ↑
- [ix] ‘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]. ↑
- As the Group is the larger of the two entities, its listing of 13 must be incorrect. ↑
- It appears from page 6 of the Annual Report 2017-2018 that for 16 of these, FEBC sends funds under a three-year funding agreement. ↑
- On the Register, five are missing and two are additional. ↑
- The disclosure of these assets does not comply with the Accounting Standards. ↑
- Although this level of disclosure may be compliant with the letter of the applicable Accounting Standard ( AASB 107), it is not consistent with either the intent of the Standard and paragraphs 14 and 19, or what is reasonable to expect from a major Christ-led charity that is reporting a true and fair view. ↑
- For a public company like FEBC, the members, if sufficient in number, and independent of management, can be a source of accountability on the board (and therefore management). FEBC has 47 members [(Group) Financial Report 2018]. ↑
- For the three without links, see page 20 of the Annual Report 2017-2018. ↑
- He is described as the ‘Public Officer’, the company’s representative to the Australian Tax Office, and one of the other directors is the Secretary, so is Kevin really a member of the board? ↑
- Unfortunately, the ACNC appears to have removed this article: ↑