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Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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


The name in the ACFID membership list links to the website for ‘Good Return’’. Here they seek donations from the public. More prominent, though, is their invitation to you to lend to them.

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 charity’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, and
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here’s the results for ‘Good Return’, with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[1]

1.  A search on the ACNC Register for ‘Good Return’ gives this result:

I’ve no idea why the first one comes up when other charities with ‘Goo’ in their name don’t. The second one is ‘Good Return’. This is because World Education Australia Limited have recorded that ‘Good Return’ is one of the two names by which it is ‘Also known as’.

It has both names registered as business names.

_ ________________________________________________________

2. There is nothing to suggest that Good Return raises funds door-to-door or in public places.


3.  The web address begins with a closed padlock symbol, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above].

Security is not mentioned on the pages where you enter personal information.


4.  Good Return’s ABN record (via the ACNC Register record) says that it is entitled to receive tax-deductible gifts, both as a Public Benevolent Institution, and for its fund, World Education Australia Overseas Relief Fund.

Other than in the financial statements, the fund is not mentioned on the website.

Tax deductibility is not mentioned on any of the lending or giving pages.


5.  The use of your donations

As context, read here what Good Return does.

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

One of the first things you might do with a financial report is to look at what the auditor said. In the case of Good Return, you will see that the auditor, Julia Gunn of KPMG, has continued the long-standing practice of giving a qualified audit opinion:

The auditor doesn’t identify either the nature or magnitude of these ‘cash donations’. The closest item in the statements is ‘Monetary donations’ $533K. Is it these, or some subset?

The directors do not say why ‘it is not practicable to maintain controls over the collection of cash donations’. Why are they willing to accept this situation even though most charities with similar collections can avoid a qualified audit opinion?

What this qualification is saying is that you can take no comfort from either the directors or the auditor that the cash donations (however defined) given to Good Return made it into the company’s bank account.

Other issues with the Financial Report

  • The directors have produced consolidated financial statements. This is because they believe that their DGR Name, World Education Australia Overseas Relief Fund, is an entity controlled by Good Return[2].
  • No explanation is given for how Good Return can operate for at least two years now without any ‘Property, plant and equipment’.
    • Was the annual review of the depreciation method, as required by the applicable Accounting Standard, performed?
      • And for the intangibles?
  • Classifying ‘Special purpose funding’ as a liability is not explained. Especially when the Note 1(b) says that ‘Monetary donations are recognised as revenue when the money is received.’
  • No explanation is given for ‘Remuneration of auditor’ being zero for the last two years.
  • The 21% increase in ‘Key management personnel compensation’ is not explained.
  • $106K of the $107K ‘Other income’ is classified as ‘Other income [Note 2 c].


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

Kathryn Jordan

Sondra Cortis

Gordon Cairns

Clay O’Brien

Daniel James MacNeil

Damien Woods

Sonia Higgins

Shane Nichols

Both listings of the current board, the website and the ACNC Register, show that Sonia has since been replaced by Lisa Cotton.

The use of your donations

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

Cash spent

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

No further information is given on this figure.

Resources consumed (i.e. accrual)

This, from the Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Income, is how the activities translated into expenses (with last year’s figures in the second column):

None of the items are defined.

Here’s the extra information in Note 3a:

Where overseas is not disclosed. Nor is the name of the organisation to which the money was sent. (It is arguable that the level of disclosure doesn’t meet the requirements of paragraphs 85 and 112 of the Accounting Standard Presentation of Financial Statements[3]).

There is nothing in the Financial Report 2019 on how Good Return ensures that (a) the money reaches the overseas organisation, and (b) it is used for the purposes given.


  • Nothing systematic found.

Charity response

Good Return values feedback.

We sent a draft of the first version of this review to them on 25 March 2020. They had not responded by 20 April. A draft of an updated version was sent to them on 21 April. They received the email but did not respond.



  1. 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?

  2. From the Directors’ Report [Financial Report 2019]: But is it an entity? I don’t think so:

    [AASB Glossary, www.aasb.gov.au]

    This is because it is merely a part of Good Return, a fund that they established so that they could receive tax-deductible donations:

    The Australian Business Register, the home of the register of ABN’s, shows that the fund doesn’t have its own ABN, being a ‘DGR Name’ belonging to Good Return.

  3. AASB 101, www.aasb.gov.au.