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MAF Australia: mini-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Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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.

Mini charity review of MAF Australia (MAF), an organisation that seeks donations online and is a member 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.

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • I sent them a draft of this review. Unlike last year, they…did not respond.

Is MAF Australia registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • MAF:
    • MAF is a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
      • It is permitted to omit ‘Ltd’/’Limited’ from the end of its name.
    • It does not hold any business names.
    • MAF operates, per the ACNC Register, throughout Australia. It also has an internet invitation to give. (And is trying to raise money for Aid on GoFundraise.)
      • It has a fundraising licence in all states that have a licensing regime except Victoria and Western Australia. It claims, however, in Note 13 of the Financial Report 2016, to have a licence in those two states as well.
    • MAF operates overseas, per the ACNC Register, only in Uganda.
  • Aid:
    • Aid is unincorporated, a public ancillary fund.
      • MAF is the trustee.
    • It does not hold any business names.
    • Aid operates, per the ACNC Register, throughout Australia.
      • It has no a fundraising licences. Do MAF’s licences cover its subsidiaries?
    • It also operates in Uganda (ACNC Register).
  • Assist:
    • Assist is unincorporated, a public benevolent institution.
    • It does not hold any business names.
    • Aid operates, per the ACNC Register, throughout Australia.
      • It has no a fundraising licences. Do MAF’s licences cover its subsidiaries?
    • The ACNC Register says that Assist does not operate overseas. Not, like MAF and Aid, in Uganda.

What do they do?

  • MAF: See here.
  • Aid:
    • No separate website.
    • No description on the MAF website or in the AIS 2016.
  • Assist:
    • No separate website.
    • No description on the MAF website or in the AIS 2016.

Do they share the Gospel?[1]

  • MAF: No, this is not part of their mission (or objects in the constitution). They define ‘witness’ (one of their six values) as ‘Christ-like behaviour’.
  • Aid: No
  • Assist: No

What impact are they having?

  • MAF: ‘Impact’ is one of their values – ‘We value ministry that transforms lives and multiplies the effectiveness of those we serve, seizing opportunities to serve the living God in a fast-changing world’ – but there’s no systematic information on the website about that impact.
  • Aid: Nothing found.
  • Assist: Nothing found.

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

  • If we assume that ‘Distributions’ are the direct costs, then ‘administration’ was 37% of expenses.

Do they pay their board members?

  • MAF:
    • Not permitted by the constitution.
    • There is insufficient disclosure of expenses to check.
  • Aid: The trustee, MAF, is entitled to be paid.
  • Assist:
    • No prohibition in the governing document.
    • There is insufficient disclosure of expenses to check.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • MAF: No
  • Aid: Yes
  • Assist: Yes

Is their online giving secure?

  • MAF: Eway and PayPal are used, so yes.
  • Aid: NA (no separate giving facility).
  • Assist: NA (no separate giving facility).

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

  • MAF:
    • ‘Give to where it’s most needed’
    • ‘Or give to one of our areas of need’
      • ‘Buy a jerrycan and fund a medevac’
      • ‘Give to a specific MAF program’
        • MAF in Papua Ne…’
        • ‘MAF in Arnhem L…’
        • ‘MAF in South Sud…’
        • ‘MAF in Timor-Leste’
        • ‘MAF in Bangladesh’
        • ‘Where Most Need…’
      • ‘Support Christian mission’
        • The ministry in PNG (Technology Services / CRMF)
        • ‘The Biblebox ministry (in PNG)
        • ‘The ministry in Arnheim Land (Technology Services)
        • ‘Christian mission where most needed’
      • Sponsor a family serving on the field’
        • 16 families/singles
      • MAF books and merch’ (a calendar and four books), ‘Gifts that transform lives’ (lots of interesting things), and ‘Help train future MAF pilots’.
      • Give Via Bank Transfer’
      • Leave a Bequest’
      • ‘MAF gift catalogue’ –as above
      • ‘Sponsor a family’
  • Aid: NA (no separate giving facility).
  • Assist: NA (no separate giving facility).

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • MAF Group: Yes (four months after their year-end, nearly two months earlier than last year).
    • But if you are considering a large donation, I would ask for more up-to-date financial information – the accounts are for a year end that is now over 12 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • Group AIS 2016: No
    • There’s a bit more to the group than ‘MAF provided support for isolated peoples in the remote parts of the world, the people for whom flying is not a luxury, but a life-line.
    • ‘Respond to the needs as they arise’ doesn’t fit with the positive answer for ‘Will the group change or introduce any activities in the 2017 period?’
    • Six countries shown, but only one shown by the group members.
    • No outcomes are reported.
  • Group Financial Report 2016: No
    • Again this year
      • Items that should be classified as revenue have been included in ‘Other comprehensive income’.
      • The accounting for the $2.41 m venture in Cairns with another charity, Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia, does not comply with the Accounting Standards.
      • The accounting for staff is unclear. The AIS 2016 reports that the Group had 11 employees, yet there are 16 families or singles seeking support on the website.
      • A mixed classification of expenses is used.
    • A $1.66 m bequest that ‘is subject to a claim or claims against the Estate’ was, consistent with the stated recognition policy for bequests (Note 1), not recorded as revenue. However, it was recorded in ‘Other Payables’. How is it a liability?
    • The Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows shows ‘Other Loans drawn down/(repaid) of $1.66 m, yet the only loan in the Consolidated Statement of Financial Position has not changed.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • Because of the above issues, no comment.

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • Note 16 in the Financial Report 2016 says that all the tax-deductible gifts received by the group are credited to Aid, then distributed to MAF International, Assist, or World Relief Overseas Aid Fund.
    • The request here, is not consistent with this, implying that the donation is directly received by Assist.
  • There is no disclosure about the other donations.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

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

  • MAF Group: Yes
  • MAF: Yes, except for ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’ being blank (these are not compulsory).
  • Aid: Yes, except for a message ‘Charity to select subtype’ (apparently an ACNC mistake), and ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’ being blank (these are not compulsory).
  • Assist: Yes, except for the inclusion of an ‘Other Name..’ that is not theirs.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

To whom are they accountable?

  • MAF:
    • As a charity, to the ACNC.
      • MAF displays the ACNC’s ‘charity tick’ both in the website footer and elsewhere. This is used in support of you giving to them.  And rightly so, because it would be unwise to give to a charity that is unregistered.   The ‘tick’ also means MAF’s AIS is not overdue, and no compliance action has been take against it.
        • But it means no more than this.
    • Not claimed on the website, but they are a Member of Missions Interlink.
      • For one opinion on the strength of that accountability, see the section Activities in this review.
  • Aid:
    • As a charity and public ancillary fund, to the ACNC.
  • Assist:
    • As a charity, to the ACNC.

 

 

  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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