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Medical Mission Aid Incorporated: 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Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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 Medical Mission Aid Incorporated (MMA), 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[1].)

(To see the situation last year, read this review.)

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • When sent a draft of this review, they…did not respond.

Is MMA registered?

  • As a charity, yes
  • MMA
    • The relationship between CMA, the organisation from which MMA was birthed, and MMA, is not clear:
      • MMA is, at least according to CMS Australia, an auxiliary of CMS Victoria.
      • MMA itself says that it is ‘associated with’ CMS.
    • MMA is a Victorian incorporated association (No. A0042669K).
    • MMA uses three names that it doesn’t have registered:
      • Medical Mission Aid.
      • MMA Op Shop
      • MMA Opportunity Shop
    • MMA operates in Australia, per the ACNC Register, only in Victoria (its home state).
      • MMA has a fundraising licence in its home state, but not in any of the other five states that might require it to have a licence[3].
    • MMA operates overseas, per the ACNC Register, in Kenya, Nepal, and the United Republic of Tanzania.
      • This matches the information under ‘Projects’. (Although, as we will see, the listing covers both charities.)
  • MMAOAF
    • MMAOAF is unincorporated.
    • It operates in the same states and countries as MMA.
    • It has no fundraising licences – but as MMA is the trustee, its registration would probably cover it.

What do the charities do?

  • The website generally treats the two charities as one.
    • There is only two one reference to MMAOAF:
      • DHERSEC as ‘an approved tax deductible project, funded through the MMA Overseas Aid Fund.
    • The bar on the right-hand-side of each webpage covers both charities:
      • Medical Mission Aid Inc is a not-for-profit Christian micro-charity. Our philosophy is based on the biblical teaching of God’s love and compassion in Christ, and the mandate to the church to care for the poor, sick and victims of injustice.
    • The description of the group’s activities and outcomes in the Group AIS 2016, starts ‘MMA’s constitution…’ but describes the activities of both charities.
  • That description goes on to give a good description of what the Group does (but not necessarily what it did in 2016):
    • MMAs constitution sets out six purposes which are fulfilled in the following ways: Purpose 1) MMA provides aid and relief to persons in Nepal, Tanzania and Kenya, which are all certified to be developing countries by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Purpose 2) To assist needy persons, hospitals and clinics in developing countries by supplying basic medical consumables, capital requirements, staff training and management support by providing the needy persons in the above three countries who are assisted in six hospitals in Tanzania and Kenya through funds to purchase medical supplies and to provide scholarships to train staff. Purpose 3) Through three organisations in Nepal, MMA initiates and participates in development projects which focus on education, health and small business including micro loans. Purpose 4) To provide linkages between communities. MMA raises funds for the improvement of health and education of people in developing countries through promotional programs and literature. Facebook is providing opportunities for communication between both cultures. Purpose 5) To encourage active participation and partnership by people and agencies in developing countries. MMA depends on those people and agencies to identify needs and to plan and budget for those needs. This is done through correspondence between MMA and the involved agencies. Purpose 6) MMAs members and supporters are encouraged to engage with partners through the receipt of regular letters describing the projects.
  • For the current projects see this main menu item. (There is a current project in Kenya that is not described in the ‘Overview’.)
  • But from the Financial Report 2016 (see below) we see that MMA conducts projects independently of MMAOAF.
  • It appears that the aid and development projects (see below) don’t belong to MMAOF, but to another charity:
    • Medical Mission Aid Inc. partners with the World Relief Overseas Aid Fund by acting as its agent for the delivery of aid and development projects [right-hand-side, any webpage].
      • You might ask MMA why it would not be more efficient for you to donate directly to World Relief.

Next year

  • Here is what they said would be changing in 2017 (from the Group AIS 2016):
    • Jitambue, a Swahili word meaning self-realization, is a program for youth who are at risk of sexual exploitation in the rural area of north-west Tanzania. Sexual exploitation leads to large families, teenage pregnancies, maternal mortality and morbidity and poverty. Jitambue is based on the fifth Millennium Goal: to reduce the maternal mortality rate and achieve universal access to reproductive health. Initially begun two years ago, a review of the program showed no positive outcomes. Following a Train-the-Trainer program in November 2016, MMA is hoping for outcomes that will lead to hope, health and life for many teenagers.

Do they share the Gospel [4]?

  • No – neither charity.

What impact are they having?

  • This report is still the only documented impact, on the website, to which MMA had contributed. (I also searched on ‘outcome(s)’ and ‘results’.)

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

  • The GiveNow page for MMA has a graphic showing that 97% of your donation is spent on ‘Projects’, and 3% on ‘Administration’.
    • The accounts do not support this claim: the MMA and MMAOAF expenses under ‘Administration’ in the Receipts and Payments Account (sic) are twice this percentage of donations.

Do they pay their directors?

  • There is insufficient disclosure in the accounts to answer this.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • Yes, both charities.

Is MMA’s online giving secure?

  • There is no mention of security on the first two pages of the giving process.

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • This is the only information:
    • MMA
      • ‘Medical Grants’: $28K
      • ‘Sponsorship – Tanzania: $6K
      • ‘Sponsorship – Nepal’: $14K
      • ‘Nepal Psychiatrist’: $20K
      • ‘Nepal School Rebuild’: $10K
      • ‘B D Schol Project’: $17K
      • ‘Mvumi Doctor’: $4K
    • MMAOAF
      • ‘Nepal Disabled’: 64K

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (but one month late, seven months after their year-end).
    • 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 15 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • Group AIS 2016:
    • It says that the Group lodged a financial report with the state regulator. But the regulator requires a report for the association on its own.
  • Group Financial Report 2016[5]:
    • This Report is again this year, despite being reviewed by a Chartered Accountant, severely deficient.
    • As part of its ‘transitional reporting requirements’, the ACNC will accept the report that a Victorian incorporated association submits to the Victorian regulator.
    • The ACNC doesn’t say, but it seems reasonable to think that their expectation is that such a report will comply with that regulator’s requirements.
    • However, the Medical Mission_ACNC GROUP’s Financial Report 2016 does not comply with those requirements:
      • It is a report of that covers both MMA and MMAOAF, not just the association.
        • The Victorian legislation requires full information about MMAOAF to be included in the Notes, not consolidated with the figures of the trustee.
      • Note 1 says that ‘The committee has determined that the association is not a reporting entity (sic) and therefore there is no requirement to apply Accounting Standards and other mandatory professional reporting requirements.’
        • Not only is this implication untrue, but the Victorian legislation makes it clear that the Accounting Standards are very much required:
          • ‘Financial statements must contain:

income and expenditure (Income Statement) for your association’s financial year

assets and liabilities (Balance Sheet) at the end of its financial year

other documents required by accounting standards, such as a cash flow statement

notes to the account, which must include:

information required by the accounting standards

information necessary to give a true and fair view

information required by the provisions of the Act and its regulations.’

    • The Report is (again) missing two of the four required financial statements.
    • The statements are not described as consolidated financial statements.A cash statement of flows is (again) provided rather than an accrual-based statement.
    • The committee members (again) do not say why they think that MMA is not a reporting entity, and therefore subject to the lower disclosure standards of special purpose financial statements.
      • They are effectively saying that there are no users, either present or prospective, who are dependent on the standard type of financial statements, general purpose financial statements. For an organisation with760+ Supporters around Australia’, this lacks credibility.
    • The Notes (again) consist of just three accounting policy Notes, and six Notes in all, to explain the statements.
    • The review, by Chartered Accountant Mark John Unwin, is again, despite a change of auditor, not compliant with the Australian Auditing Standards:
      • He makes no reference to the need for consolidated financial statements.
      • His ‘Conclusion’ talks about ‘its cash flows’ yet there is no Cash Flow Statement included in the Report.
      • He is OK with all the deficiencies identified above.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • Given the condition of the Report, no comment.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • This is a review, not an audit, something that is acceptable for a ‘Medium’ charity.
  • The auditor, Mark John Unwin, Chartered Accountant, of M.J. Unwin & Associates, issued a ‘clean’ opinion.
    • Mark is only qualified to do this review because of the ACNC’s transitional provisions for reporting by incorporated associations:  the Victorian regulator doesn’t require an audit for an association of MMA’s size. (For the size recorded by the ACNC, ‘Medium’, it requires an audit, not a review.)
    • Before you decide how much comfort to take from his finding, I suggest that you re-read the information above under ‘Financial Report 2016’.

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

  • The Group: No
    • ‘Medium’ is the size of neither charity, so the size should be ‘Small’.
  • MMA: No
    • The size should be ‘Small’.
    • Under ‘Other Name(s)’, Medical Mission Aid Inc is not another name for MMA.
    • No AIS or Financial Report was required for 2016.
    • ‘Phone’ is blank, but this is not compulsory.
  • MMAOAF
    • The size should be ‘Small’.
    • The name is MMA…, not Mma.
    • Under ‘Other Name(s)’, Medical Mission Aid Overseas Aid Fund is not another name for MMA.
    • ‘Phone’ is blank, but this is not compulsory.

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

  • None

Who are the people controlling the two charities?

To whom are the two charities accountable?

  • The ‘Missions Interlink Member’ logo is shown on each webpage. Membership, , in MMA’s name, confirmed.
    • The effectiveness of this accountability by Missions Interlink is threatened by the fact that one of the responsible persons, Pamela Thyer, is National Director of Missions Interlink, and the person who investigates complaints.
    • For one opinion on the strength of the Missions Interlink accountability, see the section ‘Activities’ in this review.
  • Both charities are accountable to the ACNC.
  • And MMA to the Victorian regulator of incorporated associations.

 

 

  1. MMA has, under the heading ‘Resources’ in the website footer, a section ‘Giving Wisely’. This leads to the GiveNow’s advice on this subject, including a section ‘How to evaluate an organisation’. There is nothing in this review that is inconsistent with that advice.
  2. Still this way on the Register. An ACNC mistake?
  3. The law in this area is not straightforward and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.
  4. “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. 
  5. I use the Pinnacle Financial Statements, respected in the profession as providing a very sound basis for producing compliant financial reports.  To this I add an assessment of materiality (both quantitative and qualitative), where the users being considered are donors.
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