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Hands at Work In Africa (Australia) Limited: 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Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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 a charity review of Hands at Work In Africa (Australia) Limited (HAW) an organisation that has two online invitations to donate (here and here), and is exempt from Australian income tax via its membership of Missions Interlink. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

For the previous review, see here.

Is it responsive to feedback?

  • I sent them a draft of this review. Like the previous two years, they did not respond.

Is HAW registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • HAW is a company limited by guarantee.
    • I think it would be judged that it has the necessary provisions in its constitution to allow it to omit ‘Ltd/Limited’ at the end of its name.
    • As it holds no business names it must use the name Hands at Work in Africa (Australia), when dealing with the public – not as it does on its webpages.
  • HAW operates, per the ACNC Register, in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. It holds a fundraising licence in all three of these states.
    • Apart from exemptions, whether it needs such a licence in the other three states that have a licensing regime depends on whether those states think that HAW, by calling for donations via the internet, is ‘fundraising’ in their territory.
  • Overseas, it operates in The Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe [ACNC Register].

What do they do?

  • From HAW’s webpages on the international site:
    • We are a group of Christians who help the local church in Africa to effectively care for the orphaned and vulnerable. We do this by supporting local Christian leaders, increasing the community’s capacity to provide care in an effective and holistic manner. Our ministry is to all those in need, regardless of race, class or religion.
  • The AIS 2017 makes it clear that this ‘support’ is by the transfer of money and goods.
  • There is no description on the webpages of the ‘local Christian leaders’ who are supported. The names of the projects are given in Note 4 of the accounts.

Do they share the Gospel[1]?

  • No
    • Nor presumably, because of the tax deduction given, do the recipients of the money.

What impact are they having?

  • Nothing found.

What do they spend outside the costs directly incurred in delivering the above impact, that is, on administration?

  • If we define ‘direct’ as ‘Project Expenses’, then ‘administration’ is 10% of expenses.
    • But what’s included in ‘Project Expenses’?

Do they pay their directors?

  • Under their constitution, this is prohibited.
  • Are there any directors’ fees included in the expense ‘Directors (sic) expenses’?

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • Yes

Is their online giving secure?

  • Online giving is via GiveNow, and they don’t mention security.

Where were the (net) donations sent?

  • The project and amount that was sent is given in Note 4 to the accounts, but neither the name of the recipient or their country.

What choices do you have in how your donation is used?

  • Either a ‘crowdraiser’ called ‘Biking across Canada 2018’ or unspecified.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (seven months after year end, the day before the deadline, and at the same time as last year).

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2017: Almost – no outcomes are reported.
  • Financial Report 2017: No
    • The directors say that none of HAW’s stakeholders, either present or prospective, need a regulator to help them get the financial information they need to make decisions about HAW. This allows them to produce the kind of financial statements that do not comply with all the Accounting Standards. For an organization that collects donations from the public, operates in three states and six overseas countries, and has 30 staff, this is implausible.
    • The absence of controls over cash receipts is a sufficient threat to a true and fair view for the auditor to refuse to give HAW a clean audit opinion. This is at least the third year that this deficiency has existed, showing that the directors are unconcerned.
    • ‘Other Comprehensive Income’ is included in the title of the statement but is missing.
      • As it is from the Statement of Changes in Equity.
    • There is no explanation of the significant revenue item ‘Team & Project Deployment’.
    • There is no explanation of how, in $332K of expenses, ‘Volunteer Expenses and Reimbursements’ for 30 volunteers is $18K. And has increased from (exactly) $11K.
    • Several of the usual Notes are missing.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • Because of the above issues, I make no comment.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • The auditor, Matthew Williams, of CB Audit, has again issued a qualified audit opinion. He claims that ‘It is not practicable for the company to maintain control over cash receipts prior to their (sic) being received and receipted by officers.’ Based on the evidence on the ACNC Register, and from my reviews, this is hard to believe.

If a charity, is their page on the ACNC Register complete/correct?

  • Yes

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • The webpages do not mention the board.
  • Per the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’) the directors are:

To whom is HAW accountable?

  • As a charity, to the ACNC.
  • And still for some things as a company, to ASIC.
  • Not mentioned on the website, but HAW is a member of Missions Interlink.
    • For one opinion of the strength of that accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

 

  1. Good living and social concern are important [to the cause of evangelism], but they are not uniquely Christian graces…I’ve met a lot of fine Hindus, Muslims and atheists. Just living the life is not going to bring someone to Christ. There is much more to it than that. We must help people, certainly, but we must also share with them why we are motivated to do so. We must stand against injustice, poverty and need, but we must at the same time point to the One who brings justice and who can meet the deepest need. Until they know our reasons, how can they come to know our Lord?” [Dan Armstrong, the Fifth Gospel: The Gospel According to You, Anzea Books, pp. 13-14. 
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