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Global Mission Partners Ltd: 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Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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 review[1] in the series ‘Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) Members’. ACFID ‘is the peak body for Australian non government (sic) organisations (NGOs) involved in international development and humanitarian action.’ It requires Members to adhere to a Code of Conduct. ‘Global Mission Partners’ is one such Member.

Covid-19

The name in the ACFID membership list links to the website for ‘GMP’/’Global Mission Partners’. Here they seek donations from the public.

Nowhere do they explain how this request fits with the fact that they are keeping nearly three years’ worth of 2019 donations ($6.57 million) in long-term financial assets.

Charity comment: “The three years of donations  – represent bequests and reserves tied to specificities purposes that cannot be used for general purposes.

Reviewer’s response:

      • The Statement of Financial Position merely shows ‘Reserves $8.73 million’.
      • A Note says that these reserves are of two types, asset revaluation reserve and ‘the specified reserve’. The brief description that follows identifies the reserve as a discretionary reserve created by the board, not restricted funds.
      • The purpose of the assets behind this reserve is not disclosed.

Given what Missions Interlink does, ‘Global Mission Partners’ is probably a charity.

Charity comment: “Charity status is determined by the ACNC and not by Missions Interlink.”

Donors

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 Global Mission Partners, with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[2].

1.  A search on the ACNC Register of charities for ‘GMP’ gives no result. Nor is it a registered business name.

Global Mission Partners’ gives this result:

Which one is the ACFID member?

Charity comment: “GMP is clearly the ACFID Member.”

From the website address on each Register entry, it appears to be the second.

Global Mission Partners’ is the name that Australian Churches of Christ Global Mission Partners Ltd (GMP) has recorded on the Register as an ‘Also known as’ name. (The name is a registered business name.)

So, what’s the first charity above? This is a public benevolent institution established in June 2019 by GMP. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of GMP. It solicits donations separately to GMP[3].

Charity comment: “GMP Extend – a separate company – allows us to have some greater flexibility in making tax deductibility available to projects that do not satisfy OAGDS Guidelines – for example the Bushfire Appeal.”

2.   There is nothing to suggest from its website that GMP raises funds door-to-door or in public places.

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3.  GMP’s ‘Donate’ page has closed padlock at the beginning of the URL in the address bar, so the site is secure. Although the page where you fill out your information has a bold ’Secure Checkout’ at the top, there is no support for this claim.

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4.  The ABN record says that a tax deduction is only available for a donation to a fund operated by GMP, Churches of Christ Overseas Aid. The ‘Give Now’ page has two tax-deductible offerings, but neither mention this fund.

Charity comment: “We will review the way COCOA is identified as the Tax Deductible fund on the website – it is clearly indicated on the formal receipt.”

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5.  The use of your donations

Objects / Mission /Purpose

The only reference to these on the website[4] leads to the constitution:

  • The ‘GMP family’, in the website footer, shows that there is a fourth program, ‘embody’.

Embody has a separate website.

Charity comment: “Several of your questions are answered in the narrative of the full Annual Report – e.g. the focus and purpose of embody.”

GMP has two of these four registered as a business name[5]. Why not the other two?

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Activities

From GMP’s ACNC Register entry:

This location map shows how this translates into projects. The filter ‘By type’ on this page omits embody from the four types identified above, but adds a new one, ‘Emergency appeal’.

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Sharing the Gospel?[6]

Not directly, but through some of the non-overseas aid partners, yes.

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How the donations were used

One of the first things you might do with a financial report is to look at what the auditor said. In the case of GMP, you will see that they have continued their long-standing practice of giving a qualified audit opinion:

So, in the first sentence, the auditor, Graeme Rodda (for Moore Stephens), says that GMP ‘maintains effective internal controls over donations and other income raising activities’. Then he immediately contradicts this, saying that ‘it is not practicable to maintain’ some of these controls.

The income raising that lacks controls is the income raising that is conducted by people other than GMP ‘staff or designated volunteers’.

These non-GMP people are not identified. In their comment on an earlier review, GMP said that these people were ‘(church) congregations that take up offerings on our behalf’. But why would GMP need controls over this activity? To think so implies that it is a GMP fundraising activity, that it is GMP revenue while in the church’s hands. For this to be the case though, GMP would have to have control over these donations, an enforceable right to require the church to send the donations to GMP. But they wouldn’t even know that an offering had been taken, let alone how much had been given[7].

So, I can’t see that the audit qualification is warranted.

What is an issue though, is the fact that the auditor says that this issue meant that he had to restrict his audit of all fundraising activity, not just the church-based activity, to what had been entered into the books. Why?

Taking this as written means that you can take no comfort from the audit that the donations given to GMP were entered into the accounting records.

Other issues with the Financial Report

  • It does not mention the subsidiary.
  • It does not mention the fourth program, embody.
  • ‘Available for sale financial assets at fair value’ is the only disclosure for $6.13 million of assets.
  • The 278% increase in ‘Land & Buildings’ is not explained.
  • The relationship between GMP and the ‘State Conferences of Churches of Christ in Australia’ and ‘The Council of Churches of Christ in Australia’ [constitution, paragraph 7].
  • Note 2 (e) says that ‘Land and buildings are measured using the revaluation model’ but Note 7 says that they are ‘At cost’.
  • Neither revenue nor expenses are identified in the Statement of Profit or Loss and Other Comprehensive.
  • It has the cover and back of the Annual Report 2018/19.

From the Directors’ Report [2019 ‘Financial Statements’], these are the people who were responsible for the Financial Report 2019:

Barrie Yesberg

Janet Woodlock

Roger Bawden

John Gilmore

Gordon Buxton

Mark Stevens

Sean Kum

Rod Cousins

Sara Tan

The ACNC Register shows that Mark Riessen, Symon Pratt and Vandana Thavare have replaced Woodlock, Stevens and Cousins. (The current board is not shown on the website.)

The use of your donations

Should you still be happy to consider a donation to GMP, let us look at where the donations went.

Cash spent

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

No further information is given on this figure, so we don’t have enough information to understand 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 (with last year in the second column):

The total of these expenses is $3.76 million.

There is no explanation of what is included in each of these items.

Note 17 (Notes to the Financial Statements) gives a breakup of the expenses between ‘International programs’ and ‘Domestic programs’ for each of ‘ICP’, ‘COCOA’ and ‘IMA’. It is not reproduced here because

  • None of the acronyms/initialisms are explained.
  • None of the figures for the line items match those in the Statement of Profit or Loss… (above).

There is no information given on the destination of the funds. The fact that GMP consider this information to be useful for donors is shown by the reporting of the country for most of the ‘Program’ funds and the name of the organisation for the ‘Associate Partners’ in the (other) Annual Report 2018/19. It is not reproduced here because the totals don’t match those in the financial statements.

There is also no description, in the financial statements, of the measures taken to ensure that the funds (a) reach the intended local partner, and (b) are used for the purpose for which they were given.

Impact

For the first time this year, GMP have produced an ‘Impact Report’. However, this is merely an extract of some of the pages from the usual annual report, and that document contains no systematic study of impact as conventionally defined.

Charity response

GMP welcomes feedback:

We sent GMP a draft of this review on 20 April 2020. John Gilmore, the Executive Officer, sent this response:

Dear Ted

Your review of GMP is noted and as in the past we will consider your assessment.

GMP is clearly the ACFID Member.

Charity status is determined by the ACNC and not by Missions Interlink.

GMP Extend – a separate company – allows us to have some greater flexibility in making tax deductibility available to projects that do not satisfy OAGDS Guidelines – for example the Bushfire Appeal.

Several of your questions are answered in the narrative of the full Annual Report – e.g. the focus and purpose of embody.

The three years of donations  – represent bequests and reserves tied to specificities purposes that cannot be used for general purposes.

We will review the way COCOA is identified as the Tax Deductible fund on the website – it is clearly indicated on the formal receipt.

Regards

John

These comments have, where relevant, also been incorporated in the text of the review, above.

 

 

  1. See here for the previous review.
  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. Given the relationship, why is there just one reference to ‘GMP Extend’ on the GMP website?
  4. The ACNC doesn’t required disclosure of the object, mission or purpose of a charity on the Register.
  5. ‘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].
  6. See, for example, paragraph 13, Guidance Statement GS 019 Auditing Fundraising Revenue of Not-for- Profit Entities, www.auasb.gov.au, and Example 7A in AASB 1058, www.aasb.gov.au
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