This is a review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink’, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission’ (and a means for a Member to get income tax exemption when it might not otherwise be available). 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 website linked from the Missions Interlink membership goes to a website in the same name. Here they provide an online giving facility.
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, and
- Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.
A search on the ACNC Register for ‘Full Gospel Assembly Melbourne’ (FGA) gives a registered charity in that name.
- They are using abbreviations of this name (e.g., on Facebook) without the necessary registration.
The above ACNC search shows another charity, one that is controlled by FGA: The Trustee For Full Gospel Ministry Melbourne School Building Fund.
- There is a separate giving page for this Fund.
There is nothing to indicate that FGA uses either door-to-door or street collectors.
The (Edge browser) “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].
- There is no information about the security of your credit card and other information on the ‘Online Giving’ page.
The Australian Business Register (linked from FGA’s ACNC Register record), says that FGA is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts.
But the similar record for the other two charities say that they are eligible.
- Vision and mission
- They have three ‘affiliated’ churches, churches that they ‘planted’.
- Activities: see ‘Ministries’ in the main menu.
Sharing the Gospel
The audited account of how FGA uses donations is the Financial Report on the ACNC Register.
The directors signed a declaration [Directors’ Declaration, Financial Report 2019] that
The ACNC, the administrator of the Act, says
FGA’s statements do not comply with these Standards, nor do they give a true and fair view. Therefore, the Committee (see below for who they were) have made a false declaration (and the auditor has given an inappropriate opinion):
- The directors state that none of the Standards are applicable to FGA. This is not true.
- The directors label three of the statements ‘consolidated’ yet neither state the basis of the consolidation nor identify the entities controlled.
- Neither the directors nor the auditor comment on the fact that the extremely poor working capital (short-term assets are only 12% of short-term liabilities) raises the question of whether the going concern assumption is correct.
- For a charity controlling two other charities, operating in two countries overseas, with 13 employees and 278 volunteers, professional management, and a turnover of $1.44 million, the directors’ choice of the lower standard special purpose financial statements is stretching credulity.
- One of the four required financial statements is missing (even though the auditor says that it is included).
- The directors have used an outdated format for their income statement (and consequently omit a section).
- Their classification of the expenses is incorrect.
- Despite saying, in Note 1, that FGA’s accounting policies are ‘described below’, they have not been included.
- Most of the required Notes are missing.
- The directors have included, without explanation, two extra declarations in the Report. One of them competes with the declaration that is required by the ACNC, while the other is of no value.
- The auditor,
- either did not notice the above errors or else thought them immaterial
- Either way, a ‘clean’ opinion is not appropriate
- signed his report nearly two weeks before the directors signed the accounts
- says that they are consolidated financial statements, but allows the directors to make no mention of consolidation or the controlled entities
- says that his audit included a ‘consolidated statement of changes in equity’ and a ‘summary of significant accounting policies’, yet neither are included in the Report
- makes no reference to the going concern assumption even though the directors have ignored the perilous working capital position (see above)
- includes paragraphs that reference non-existent material.
- either did not notice the above errors or else thought them immaterial
Who was responsible?
The first two of the current directors below signed the statements in the Financial Report. We don’t know who else was responsible for the accounts, but it may well have been the others below.
Cheng Hon Kee
Is it this Jean-Paul Seow?
Is it this Roger Seow?
Yong Chai Goh
The directors are responsible to the membership of the association. We are not told the number of members.
How FGA uses its revenue
If you are still willing to trust the accounts, here’s what the directors say the expenses were that were over $50K (in a total of $1.41 million):
‘Salaries & Benefits – Pastoral Staff’ 524K
‘Depreciation – Fixed Assets 235K
‘Office Expenses’ 134K
‘Tithes to Mission Fund’ 100K
‘Disbursements from Missions Fund’ 93K
‘Disbursement from IPIN Fund’ 54K
‘Loan Interest’ 50K
‘Pastoral Ministries’ 50K
Nothing systematic on impact found.
FGA do not invite feedback or complaints.
But the introduction to the Mission Interlink standards (see above) includes this statement:
We sent them a draft of this review. This was their response:
“Thanks for sending us a copy of your draft review. We take our responsibility to governance and compliance seriously and will consider all the issues you raise and, if appropriate, will make any relevant changes.”
With this commitment it is it is difficult to see how the accounts could be in such a poor state.
- https://missionsinterlink.org.au/about ↑
- https://missionsinterlink.org.au/membership/benefits ↑
- A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering:
- 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?
- This entity was incorporated in 2008, but until it registered as a charity in 2020 had no tax concessions. ↑
- ‘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]. ↑
- The implication of their choice of special purpose financial statements, rather than the type that is designed for those who are dependent on a regulator to get the information they need, is that all users can get a tailor-made report from FGA. Highly unlikely. ↑
- The ACNC has previously – the Fact Sheet is no longer on the site – explained impact this way: “Every charity has a mission that is associated with producing a public benefit. As this mission is pursued, the changes produced in individuals and their communities can be referred to as the charity’s ‘impact.’ If you are donating to a charity, you may wish to make sure that your donation is creating the greatest impact possible.’ There is no reason why this wouldn’t still be their view. ↑