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Medical Mission Aid Incorporated, 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Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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.

This is a charity review, a review for those with an interest in the Australian charity Medical Mission Aid Incorporated (MMA), and the charity that it controls, Mma (sic) Overseas Aid Fund (MMAOAF).

They are reviewed together, for although they do not, although entitled to do so, form a group, MMA produces one Financial Report covering both charities.

The review is structured according to MMA’s entry on the ACNC Register, with those for MMAOAF only mentioned when they are different.

Its purpose is to supply some information extra to what is there, information that may be helpful in your decision about MMA (and MMAOAF).

It is up to you to decide whether any or all of the information presented here is what you need in order to make that decision, and whether you should seek any other information, either from the charity itself or from other sources.

Ministry response

Prior to publishing this review, I sent my observations to the charity, on 13 May 2016, and invited them to comment. This was their response:

Thank you for your review of Medical Mission Aid Inc and its Deed of Trust, MMA Overseas Aid Fund.  The review will be referred to our Committee of Management. My only comment here is that not all your information is correct. One example is when you state  “ MMA doesn’t have a fundraising licence in any of the seven states that have a licensing regime” which is incorrect.

Reviewer’s comment:  I invited them to tell me what other information was incorrect, but they did not respond.

Organisation of this review

  • The first part of this review is organised according to the headings in MMA’s Register entry. This is how to use this section of the review:
    1. For each heading in the register entry, first read the information under that heading.
    2. Then check if that heading is included below. (Headings for which there is no comment are not included.)
  • There is then a more detailed comment on the Financial Report.
  • Lastly, there is a section Membership of accountability organisations.

Sources

  • ACNC Register (including links)
  • Google search on the charity’s name.
  • MMA website.
  • Not on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  Nor LinkedIn.  Two old videos on YouTube.
  • State government fundraising licence registers.
  • No reviews yet on Glassdoor.

REGISTRATION DETAILS

Entity Subtype

  • Not a subtype that suggests that the Gospel is shared.
  • The first purpose in the constitution is
    • To provide aid and relief to persons in countries which are certified to be developing countries by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  • In none of the other five purposes is Christianity mentioned.
  • A statement on the website gives a different picture:
    • 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.
  • MMAOAF:   They have not lodged their governing document.

CHARITY DETAILS

Legal Name

  • MMA is a Victorian incorporated association (No. A0042669K).
  • MMAOAF: ‘Mma’ instead of ‘MMA’, to match the ABN record, is an ACNC mistake?

Other Name(s)

  • This is not another name for MMA, but the separate charity MMAOAF.
  • MMA doesn’t have a business name; this means that it can only trade in its legal name (above).
  • It has an ‘op-shop’ trading under the name ‘MMA Op Shop’. This name is not registered. There is no separate ABN.
  • MMAOAF: This name does not belong to MMAOF.

Charity ABN

  • Tax deductibility: Yes, you can claim a tax deduction for a donation to MMA.

Charity Street Address

  • This appears to be the President’s address.
  • No postal address on the website.

Phone

  • No office phone, but here are the numbers for the President, Treasurer and Secretary.
  • MMAOAF: These people are also ‘responsible persons’ (see below) for this charity.

ANNUAL REPORTING

  • AIS 2015
    • This is MMA’s compulsory Annual Information Statement 2015 (AIS 2015).
    • It gives basic financial information. If you think that this might be sufficient for you
      • The financial statements are not general purpose as claimed here, but the ones requiring a lower standard of disclosure, special purpose financial statements.
      • The figures include the transactions of MNAOAF (although consolidation is not mentioned).
      • ‘$77K of the ‘Donations and bequests’ came from MMAOAF.
      • MMAOAF worked in one country only, Nepal.
      • ‘All other revenue’ is almost totally from the Op-Shop.
      • All the ‘Employee expenses’ are attributed to this shop.
        • This represents the benefits, according to the AIS, for three part-timers.
  • Financial Report 2015
    • The Report was signed three months after the year end.
    • It was then lodged nearly four months after that, 10 days before the (extended) final day.
    • The coverage of finances in this review is left until the financial report proper (see Latest financial report – detail, below). (Go straight there.)

ABOUT THE CHARITY

  • Statement of Faith
    • Not on the website. (There’s no search function, so I used ‘site:missionaid.org.au (term)’)
    • Nor in the constitution.

 Date Established

  • There is a history on the website.
  • Is there still a legal relationship with CMS, the organisation from which MMA was birthed?
    • MMA is, at least according to CMS Australia, an auxiliary of CMS Victoria.
    • This church believes that MMA is a ministry of CMS.
    • MMA itself says that it is ‘associated with’ CMS.

Who the Charity Benefits

  • Vision
    • None found.
  • Mission
  • Activities (What did MMA do?)
    • In the AIS 2015:
      • MMA is committed to helping people in developing countries in health related ways. This may be through giving them the means to be proactive in moving out of poverty into hope, health and life. Three examples are 1. Funding small loans to start a business. 2. Providing solar lights for children to study at night us enhancing opportunities for ongoing education. 3. Funding students for health related courses.
        • The lack of specifics means that this could be about any year; in fact the description last year was the same.
    • MMAOAF: Although MMAOAF did not have the same activities as MMA, this section of its AIS is identical to that of MMA.
    • The current activities of MMA, undistinguished between those done as a trustee and those done in its own right, are described under the main menu item ‘Projects’.
  • Outcomes (What did MMA deliver?)
    • MMA did not respond to the ACNC’s request in the AIS for a description of its outcomes.
    • A search for ‘Outcomes’ on the website gave nothing.
  • Impact (How were people’s lives improved?)
    • A search of the website gave one documented impact to which MMA had contributed.

Size of Charity

  • This is incorrect: MMA has revenue less than $250K.
  • MMAOAF: This is also incorrect – MMAOAF’s revenue was $77K.

Financial Year End

  • This means that the next financial report is due by 31 December 2016 – or 31 January if the ACNC is generous again. Before that the financial information on the Register will be up to 18 months out-of-date.
    • You may therefore need to ask for more up-to-date information.

WHERE THE CHARITY OPERATES

Operating State(s)[i]

  • MMA calls for donations on its website.
  • MMAOAF also seeks donations on GiveNow.
    • MMA has a fundraising licence in its home state, but not in any of the other six states that have a licensing regime.
      • Apart from exemptions, whether it needs one depends on whether those states think that MMA, by calling for donations publicly, is ‘fundraising’ in their territory.

Operates in (Countries)

  • These are the countries in which MMA/MMAOAF has projects. It appears – for instance, no travel expenses – that this just involves sending money there.
  • MMNOAF: This is incorrect – it sent money to only Nepal.

CHARITY’S DOCUMENT (SIC)

  • An Annual Report/Review can be lodged on the ACNC Register, but MMA hasn’t done this.
  • Nor is there one on the website.
  • MMAOAF: They have mistakenly lodged MMA’s constitution instead of their own governing document.

RESPONSIBLE PERSONS

No. of Australian ‘responsible person’ positions[ii]

Brian Hayes                 This function was not working at the time of publication

Ruth Judd

Helen Potts

Diane Pritchard

Anne Saunders

Pamela Thyer

Amanda Ward

Elizabeth Wong

  • The contact details of the President, Treasurer and Secretary are here. The other members are not mentioned on the site.
  • MMAOAF: The same eight people above.

(End of review of the ACNC Register information)

Latest financial report – detail[iii]

  • This Report is severely deficient:
    • It purports to be, page 1, a report for both MMA and MMAOAF. One would therefore expect, if not an ACNC group, then consolidated statements. However, it treats MMAOAF as a department of MMA equivalent to its ‘op-shop’.
    • The Report is missing two of the four required financial statements.
    • The Statement by Members of the Committee, the statement where the directors put their name to the report, is unsigned.
    • The committee members 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.
    • The audit, by Registered Company Auditor Stanley Neild, is not compliant with the Australian Auditing Standards:
      • He makes no reference to the fact that MMAOAF is a separate charity.
      • He has omitted the Balance Sheet from his scope.
      • He is OK with
        • the omission of the two of the four required financial statements.
        • the Committee’s belief that the Accounting Standards are irrelevant.
        • the inclusion of a Statement of Receipts and Payments Account in statements prepared on the accrual accounting basis.
        • a mere three accounting policy Notes, and six Notes in all, to explain the statements.
      • He says, incorrectly, that he has no responsibility for evaluating MMA’s accounting policies.
      • He omits an ‘Emphasis of Matter paragraph.
      • One paragraph is duplicated.

Membership of accountability organisations claimed

  • The ‘Missions Interlink Member’ logo is shown on each webpage. 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.

(End of review)

 

[i] This is how the ACNC explains ‘operating locations’ in  their application guide: ‘You need to give details about where in Australia your organisation conducts (or plans to conduct) its activities.’

[ii] Because of the possibility of two (or more) directors having the same name on the register of responsible persons, it is not possible to be definitive about the number of directorships held.

[iii] 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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