Care: At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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 email@example.com.
This is a 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. ‘International Needs Australia’ is one such Member.
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.
1. There’s a charity registered in the name ‘International Needs Australia’ (INA), but not ‘INA’.
- Nobody has the name ‘INA’ registered as a business name.
- Even though it is a public company, INA is registered with ASIC without the usual ‘Ltd’ or ‘Limited’ on the end of its name.
- INA was, until 7 November 2019, a member of an ACNC Group. Although the group members are no longer shown by the ACNC, it is likely that this was the other member.
2. There is nothing to suggest that INA 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].
The page where you enter your credit card information says, ‘Invest using our secure payments facility.’, but the source of this security is not given.
4. INA’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, International Needs Overseas.
The fund is not mentioned on the website.
Tax deductibility is not mentioned on the ‘Invest’ page.
5. The use of your donations
As context, read here what INA does.
The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report 2019.
For this report, directors have a choice between special purpose or general purpose reports. The requirements of the former are less onerous than the latter. Preparing special purpose reports means, among other things, that charities do not need to consolidate (produce a combined picture if they control over entities), and do not need to disclose related parties and transactions with related parties.
With a diverse range of donors all over Australia providing $1.22 million [Financial Report 2019], 10 employees and 23 volunteers, operating in eight overseas countries, and receiving $610K in government grants [AIS 2019], it is hard to see how a special purpose report is the right choice. But that is the choice that the directors of INA made.
And the auditor, a Chartered Accountant, agreed with them.
One of the implications of their choice is that you can ring INA’s office and request that they prepare financial statements that answer the question or questions you have about the charity. Good luck with that.
The bottom line is that the accounts presented by the directors are not for you. In fact, the directors say that you don’t exist:
These were the directors who were responsible for the accounts:
The ACNC Register has an extra person, Pam Winstanley, but as she is the Secretary, and a company secretary is not necessarily a director, so perhaps INA have made a mistake?
The use of your donations
If you are still willing to consider donating to INA, here is how your donations were used:
From the Statement of cash flows (with last year in the second column):
No further information is given on the ‘Projects and Support’ figure.
Resources consumed (i.e. accrual)
This, from the Statement of Comprehensive Income, is how the activities translated into expenses (with last year’s figures in the second column):
The Accounting Standard Presentation of Financial Statements requires that
This is supported by the requirements for INA’s Notes to the financial statements:
Presenting just a single line for ‘Funds to international programs’, 62% of the expenses, is arguably therefore not presenting what the directors say they have presented (Directors’ Declaration, Financial Report 2019), a ‘true and fair view’,
There is nothing in the Financial Report 2019 on how INA ensures that (a) the money reaches the overseas organisation, and (b) it is used for the purposes given.
- Nothing systematic found.
- What INA say on the ‘Impact’ page is not consistent with the industry definition of ‘impact’.
- INA’s annual report is entitled Annual Impact Report 2019, but contains the traditional contents of an annual report.
- There is a report of the evaluation of one of the programs on page 23 of that report. There is no reference to a theory of change, something required for impact measurement.
While INA does not, on the website, invite feedback, there is an implicit invitation on page 20 of the Annual Impact Report 2019.
I sent a draft of this review to them on 25 March 2020. At the time of publication, three and a half weeks later, they had not responded.
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?
The ACNC information on the revocation of the Group registration is contradictory: at the top of the recorded it says that it was a voluntary revocation, yet down the page the revocation is recorded as involuntary (under the heading ‘Enforcement action…’). ↑
Enhancing Not-for-Profit Annual and Financial Reporting, March 2013, accessed from their website March 2020. ↑
The accounting profession says that you are therefore ‘potentially interested in the information provided in general purpose financial reports’. [From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au]. ↑
AASB 101, www.aasb.gov.au. ↑
Also from AASB 101. ↑