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Interserve Australia

Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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 review, principally for donors, in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink’. Missions Interlink is ‘the Australian network for global mission’[1] (and a means for a Member to get income tax exemption when it might not otherwise be available[2]). ‘Interserve Australia’ is one such Member.

The website linked from the Missions Interlink membership goes to a website in the name ‘Interserve’/’Interserve Australia’. Here they seek online donations.


Given what Missions Interlink does, ‘Interserve Australia’ is probably a charity. The charities’ regulator, 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.
5.Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here’s the results for ‘Interserve Australia’, with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’sWhat should I consider when deciding which charity to support?’[3]

Question 1

A search on the ACNC Register of charities gives this result: Interserve Australia Limited (Interserve).

The Register is unhelpful in that it fails to show that, contrary to the impression given by a ‘Date established’ of 2019, and the absence of Annual Reporting, the Australian ‘Interserve’ organisation is not new[4].

Because Interserve have not taken advantage of the ACNC’s Group Reporting provisions, we cannot see that there is now another ‘Interserve’ charity, Interserve Development Limited, a subsidiary of Interserve[5].  It is this charity that was the previous ‘Interserve’ charity (the incorporated association).

Question 2

There is nothing to suggest that Interserve fundraises door-to-door or in the street.

Question 3

The web address begins with a closed padlock symbol, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above]. But the donate page says that gifts can ‘be made securely’ without supporting that claim.

Question 4

The Australian Business Register (linked from Interserve’s Register record) says that the charity is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts. The donation page contradicts this:



They don’t explain it on this page, but the reason for the difference is that Interserve is also collecting for its subsidiary, and that charity has deductible gift recipient status.

Question 5


How this translates into action.

For what was done in 2019, see ‘Our objectives and activities’ in the Interserve Development Annual Report [‘Documents’, ACNC Register]. (Being a new charity, Interserve didn’t have to report for 2019.)

Sharing the Gospel?[6]

How we work’ says that Interserve (that is both parent and subsidiary) shares the Gospel:

But this doesn’t match what they said in the Financial Report 2019 in April 2020:


The audited account of how a charity uses donations is the Financial Report on the ACNC Register.

Directors have a choice between two kinds of reports, special purpose or general purpose. The requirements of the former are less onerous than the latter.

Interserve Development’s auditor, Peter Shields, is a Partner of Saward Dawson[7]. This is what his professional body, Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand, has to say about the choice between the two types of reports[8]:

With an impact across multiple countries, 29 employees, 120 volunteers [AIS 2919], $4.69 million in donations [Financial Report 2019] it is hard to see how a special purpose report is the right choice. But that is the choice that the directors of Interserve Development made.

And the auditor, a Chartered Accountant, agreed with them.

One of the implications of their choice is that you can ring Interserve’s office and request that they prepare financial statements that answer the question or questions you have about the charity. I strongly doubt that they will agree[9]. And if they don’t then the accounts presented by the directors are not for you. In fact, they say (in the Notes to the Financial Statements) that you don’t exist:

If you are still prepared to consider a donation to Interserve, read on.

The use of your donations

Here, from the Statement of Profit or Loss and Other Comprehensive Income [Financial Report 2019], is a list of what resources were consumed: (with last year in the second column):

 Understandability is hampered by the classification of most expenses by their function (e.g., ‘Administration’) but others by their nature (e.g., ‘Employee benefits’). Does this mean that, for instance, ‘Culture Connect Expenses’ doesn’t include any employee expenses?
 ‘Culture Connect’ is nowhere explained.
 You have to read the ‘small print’ to find out the meaning of ‘Gift fund expenses’.
 ‘Partners’ are nowhere explained.
 What is the distinction between ‘partners’ and employees?
 And ‘teams’:

Directors responsible

Here are the directors who approved the Financial Report 2019[10]:

Wes Cassidy

Greg Horth[11]

Allan Mathews[12]

Alison Morgan

Lesley Fung

Christine Sorensen[13]

Benjamin Shue

The ACNC Register shows that since that time four of these seven directors have left the board and Antonius Buntsma has joined.

 Buntsma is shown as the Secretary. A Secretary is not automatically a director, so the Board may now consist of only three people.
 The current directors are not shown on the website, so we can’t check there.


Everything Interserve is doing may be being done ‘properly’[14], but unless the money is producing the change in people that the charity intends (i.e., an impact), the money would be better used elsewhere. And the same applies if the impact is less than is being achieved by another charity.

There is no mention of impact on the website, including in the Annual Report.

Charity response

Both Members and Associates must accept a set of standards, the introduction to which includes this statement:

We sent Interserve a draft of this review. They received it but chose not to respond.



  1. https://missionsinterlink.org.au/about

  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. The ASIC register of organisations (www.asic.gov.au) says that it was registered as an incorporated association in 1992.

  4. https://interserve.org.au/news/interserve-development/


      Interserve Australia Limited was originally named Interserve Group Limited [www.asic.gov.au].

  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. Who continue, quite inappropriately, to either put or allow their logo to be put, on the cover of the charity’s report.

  7. Enhancing Not-for-Profit Annual and Financial Reporting, March 2013, accessed from their website March 2020.

  8. 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].

  9. From the Director’s Report. Which was not included in the Financial Report 2019 – it is not compulsory – but can be found in the Annual Report.

  10. From the Annual Report (page 6):

  11. From the Annual Report (page 6):

  12. From the Annual Report (page 7):

  13. The behaviour of its people, its use of money, and how it goes about its business.