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This is review in the series ‘Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) Members’. ACFID ‘is the peak body for Australian non government organisations (NGOs) involved in international development and humanitarian action.’ It requires Members to adhere to a Code of Conduct. ‘Opportunity International Australia’ is one such Member.
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”:
- 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.
1. A search on the ACNC Register for ‘Opportunity International Australia’ gives, with the addition of ‘Limited’ on the end, a charity in the that name (Opportunity).
one from supporters of [amended 23.09.2020] Opportunity should be seeking a donation door-to-door or in public places:
3. The web address begins with a closed padlock symbol, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above].
However, the security of your information is not mentioned on the donation page.
4. Opportunity’s ABN record (via the ACNC Register) says that a tax deduction is available for a donation both to it as an organisation and to a fund that it runs, Opportunity International Overseas Aid Fund. The Fund is not mentioned on the website, but the donation page says that all donations over $2 are tax deductible.
(Note that you have no choice over which project your money is used for.)
5. The use of your donations
- See ‘About Us’.
- For Opportunity’s activities, see ‘Our Work’ in the main menu.
- Here’s how your money is used.
- Opportunity’s overseas ‘partners’ are not necessarily local churches.
Share the Gospel? 
Opportunity says that it exists in response to Christ’s ‘call to love and serve the poor’.
But it does not evangelise:
Opportunity interprets the parable of the good Samaritan in the usual way: a traveller who does a good deed when he didn’t need to. But the focus of this parable is not the deed, but the doer of the deed. He was a Samaritan, so the message to the hearers would have been that Jesus has come to turn the world upside down. And the remainder of Scripture is clear that this won’t happen unless you share the news of the Kingdom.
Any donation to Opportunity on the ‘Donate’ page is given to Opportunity to allocate as it chooses. So, for a donation here, you will not be able to ask for a report that is more specific than the report that is on the ACNC Register.
The audited account of how a charity uses donations is the Financial Report on the ACNC Register.
Here’s how Opportunity consumed their resources (i.e. accrual figures, with last year in the second column):
The Note for ‘Funds to international programs’ (Note 6) gives the ‘nature’ of the expenses:
And then switches to cash payments, thereby including loans and equity investments overseas:
How does Opportunity ensure that the money is (a) received by the intended recipient, and (b) used for the purposes for which it was given?
If you are confident that Opportunity are making an impact (see below), then the ratios below are less important.
This 80% is only correct by including loans and equity investments. Neither of these is spending on programs – it is financial support given to implementers of the programs.
The Directors’ Report [Financial Report 2019] shows that these were the people responsible for the Financial Report:
Matthew Hope [added 23.09.2020]
The directors are responsible to the members. There were 28 members at 31 December 2019 [Directors’ Report, Financial Report 2019], so some accountability is possible.
So, Opportunity is confident that your dollar is having the right impact by
- Interpreting the evidence on microfinance as positive (see above).
- Multiplying your donation.
- Refining programs through a special program of theirs, Social Performance Management. (The most recent report is dated 2016 though.)
Opportunity welcomes feedback:
We sent them a draft of this review. They…did not respond.
- 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?
- ‘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]. ↑
- One of Opportunity’s six values is ‘Transformation’:But this won’t happen in the absence of hearing the Gospel. ↑
- Note 6 is confusing in that it (a) labels the first part as ‘disbursements’ (cash) when they are expenses (accrual), and (b) doesn’t explain why the two totals disagree. ↑
- For some reason this information has been omitted from its usual place in a Financial Report. ↑