This is a review in the series ‘Organisations accredited by the CMA Standards Council’. The CMA Standards Council is ‘a ministry of Christian Ministry Advancement’, with a mission “to help build faith and trust in Christian organisations, be they churches, charities, schools or otherwise, to enable them to achieve more effective outcomes”.
It achieved this by meeting the Council’s ‘Principles and Standards of Responsible Stewardship’, and therefore is able to be promoted as an organisation that strives ‘to go beyond the basics in terms of good governance and good stewardship’.
The website linked from the Directory goes to a website in the same name. Here they seek online donations.
- 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.
Langham changed from an incorporated association to a company (‘Ltd’) in January 2022.
Langham holds a fundraising licence in four out of the six states where one is required. They do not explain why they don’t have a licence in Queensland and South Australia.
Nothing in Langham’s public materials indicates that it uses either volunteer or professional door-to-door or street collectors.
Langham’s web address has a ‘closed padlock symbol next to the website’s URL in the address bar’, so the website is secure [the first ACNC article above].
The donation page says that a ‘secure transaction processor’ is used, but no information about this is offered.
In a December 2019 eNews and prayer update, Langham said they were in the process of changing this:
No update on this could be found.
Question 5: Where’s the money go?
Vision, mission, values, statement of faith, and ‘Langham Logic’, all on or via one page.
It is the last, the ‘Langham Logic’, that are most influential in the selection of programs (‘ministries’):
Here’s the result:
Only PhDs are available to ‘scholars’.
Since all the above information is common to all Langham entities worldwide, it is not clear how much it applies to Langham in Australia.
On the ACNC Register Langham reports that it works in most of the countries of the world. It may well be that this is talking about the worldwide Langham organisation, not the Australian arm.
Sharing the Gospel?
The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report on the ACNC Register.
The directors’ declaration about the statements
The directors issued a declaration (unsigned) [Statement by Members of the Committee, Financial Report 2021] that the Financial Report
For this to be true, the directors must have complied with the ACNC’s requirements for a NSW incorporated association. But they haven’t.
Their Notes to the Financial Statements [Financial Report 2021] give the legislation they followed:
Class Order 11/01 applies to NSW incorporated associations. Although Langham was such an association for the reporting period covered by the Financial Report, the ability to use this Order, and thereby submit statements that do not comply with Accounting Standards, was not available to them:
So, Langham should have complied the ‘all ACNC requirements’. This includes, if it is a reporting entity (and no reasonable person could conclude otherwise), compliance with all the Accounting Standards.
But they don’t so comply. For instance, by incorrectly accounting for designated gifts, they understate revenue by 17% ($91K). Plus see ‘Additional issues’, below.
These mistakes are not something that one would expect from a charity given the stamp of high standards by the CMA Standards Council, the evangelical standards body. Or the effort they say they have put into this area [Annual Report….].
The auditor, A J Dewar, ‘Registered Company Auditor’, agreed with the directors’ choice. This again is a highly questionable decision, both because of the argument given above, and this opinion of the Chartered Accountants body:
More than this, there is a strong argument that he should have refused the engagement when he found out that they intended to rely on the Class Order.
There are several other issues with the Financial Report that one would not expect from a charity that says it is a cut above the rest in financial reporting:
- The Statement of Income and Expenditure
- uses a long-superseded format (and consequently omits an important section)
- has no headings
- shows incorrect accounting for ‘overhead’
- is incorrectly titled
- The Statement of Changes in Equity
- says that Langham is a ‘parent entity’
- uses a long-superseded format
- The Statement by Members of the Committee is unsigned.
- The Notes to the Financial Statements do not say whether the statements are general purpose or special purpose
- The Independent Audit Report
- is not in a form consistent with the Basis of Preparation (see above)
- is unsigned.
Who was responsible?
From the Statement by Members of the Committee [Financial Report 2021], we know that those responsible for the above reporting included Jill McGilivray and Graham Collins. The others listed in the Annual Report would most likely have also been involved in the decision:
The ACNC Register shows that there have been no changes since that time.
The directors are accountable to the members, but this number is not disclosed, so we cannot assess this accountability.
Where the donations went
If you are still happy to rely on the Financial Report, here are the expenses $5K or over, out of a total of $375K (from the Statement of Income and Expenditure):
Employee benefits expense $143K
Growth Campaign 69K
Program – Preaching 67K
Program – Scholars 54K
Program – International 24K
The last four total are broken down on page 11 of the Report. But not to the extent of telling us the destination of the money. Plus, there is nothing on measures to ensure that the money (a) got to its intended destination, and (b) was used for the purpose for which it was given.
Everything Langham is doing may be being done ‘properly’, 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.
Nowhere do Langham define what they mean by impact. They issued an Annual Report and Celebration of Impact 2021, but most of the content is not about Langham Australia.
Here is what is in that report about ‘impact’, with Langham’s contribution not identified:
The first two results of a search on ‘impact’ on the website (here and here) give anecdotal accounts of what Langham sees as its impact. The first page finishes with something a little more systematic:
The time and cost of doing a PhD, and the wait of up to 10 years, seems a very high cost for a new ministry.
Standard 5.6 of the CMA Standards council standards (see above) requires that regular program evaluations. There is no evidence of such evaluations. One evaluation, by ‘Excellence in Giving in 2019, is mentioned once on the website and once in the Annual Report…, but it is not described, nor is there a link.
We sent a draft of this review to the charity. They…did not respond.
- Linked added by us. ↑
- Emphasis in original. ↑
- http://www.cmasc-generosity.net.au/directory.php ↑
- Having the list of accredited organisations on a site that is not secure is inconsistent with this building of ‘faith and trust’: ↑ ↑
- 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?
- Note the absence of the full stop at the end. For some inexplicable reason, Langham went to the trouble earlier this year to add it to their name:The ACNC record, however, has not been updated. ↑
- This has led to them putting incorrect answers in their Annual Information Statement 2021: the correct ‘Legal name’ versus ‘Yes’ to whether or not they are an ‘incorporated association’. ↑
- But list only two in their AIS 2021. ↑
- Langham have yet to change the ‘Entity type’ on the ABN record (it is their responsibility to do so). ↑
- ‘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] ↑
- There is a strong argument that the Order is ineffective anyway. ↑
- The committee members say, in the Annual Information Statement 2021 that the statements are general purpose, but they contradict this in their Statement by…, saying that they are special purpose statements. Special purpose statements imply that any stakeholder can request a tailor-made report, which, for a charity seeking donations from the public, 45 staff, and working in a great many countries, is implausible. ↑
- http://www.cmasc-generosity.net.au/directory.php: ↑ ↑
- Enhancing Not-for-Profit Annual and Financial Reporting, March 2013, accessed from their website March 2020. ↑
- The behaviour of its people, its use of money, and how it goes about its business. ↑