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Overseas Council 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Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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 Overseas Council Australia (OCA), an organisation that invites the public to donate to it, and that is connected, through Stephen Kerr, to the CMA Standards Council, Christian Ministry Advancement Ltd‘s ‘major new initiative, accrediting Christian organisations against a set of standards of good governance, financial oversight, and fundraising ethics.’

(Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

To see the situation last year, read this review.

Is it responsive to feedback?

  • Shortly after receiving the draft review, they replied that they were ‘currently working on this’. Three days after the date for publication, in response to my follow-up, they replied that they had decided not to make a formal response.

Is it registered?

  • Yes, as a charity.
  • OCA is a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
    • It is entitled to omit ‘Limited/’Ltd’ from the end of its name.
  • There’s also another charity with ‘Overseas Council’ in its name, The Trustee For Overseas Council Fund.
    • The governing document for this charity is blank, but with responsible persons the same as OCA, I’d say that OCA is the trustee.
  • OCA operates, per the ACNC Register, all over Australia. However, it is only registered as a fundraiser in its home state, NSW[1].

What does OCA do?

  • The ‘About Us’ page says that donations are used to
    • train emerging church leaders in twenty five countries throughout Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
    • What this translates into practically can be seen below under ‘What choices do you have…?’
    • Page 2 of the Financial Report gives the specifics of what they did in 2016.

Do they share the Gospel?

  • No. (It funds the training of those that will)[2].

What impact are they having?

  • Nothing systematic found.
  • There has been no Annual Report since 2014.

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

  • If we define ‘Payments and in kind allocations to Projects’ as these direct costs, then 34% was ‘administration’.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No
    • This is contradicted here.

Is their online giving secure?

  • digicert is used, so yes.

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

  • Where most needed’
  • ‘Student support’
  • ‘Faculty support’
  • ‘Infrastructure project’
    • You will need to know the name of the project
  • ‘Translation or commentary project’
    • You will need to know the name of the project

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (on the last day, seven months after their year-end).

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • Annual Information Statement 2016 (AIS 2016): No
    • Although consolidated financial statements are not mentioned anywhere by name, Note 1 says that ‘The Financial Statements comprise the following entities: Overseas Council Australia…. Overseas Council Fund. This means that, because OCA still hasn’t taken advantage of the ACNC’s group reporting provisions, its AIS should show only its own figures, not those of the group. OCA hasn’t done this.
    • Even if this were not the case, most of the figures in the ‘Comprehensive Income Statement summary’ do not match the financial statements.
    • No outcomes are reported.
  • Financial Report 2016: No.
    • No audit report is included.
    • The directors have again, and again without explanation, adopted the lower standard special purpose financial statements.
      • Is it really the case that all those currently involved with OCA – a charity with a $1.58 m turnover, operating in all states, and with a public request for money – and all those who might become involved because of OCA’s promotions and website, can get a financial report tailored to their needs? (This is the implication of not producing general purpose financial statements.)
    • Two income statements are, without explanation, included.
    • One income statement is again missing ‘Other comprehensive income’ (again, the other both this and totals.
    • The surplus in the income statements is not the same as the surplus in the Statement of Changes in Equity.
    • The Notes to the accounts are again missing some that are customarily included.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • OCA has negative working capital (current liabilities exceed current assets), and it has used up all its capital and then some, and yet there is no comment by the directors on the going concern assumption.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • Not audit report is included in the Financial Report.

If a charity, is their page on the ACNC Register complete?

  • No
    • If the note under Entity Subtype is not an ACNC mistake, then OCA has been overdue in selecting a subtype since 30 June 2015.
    • ‘Phone’ is blank.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • The seven people introduced on the website here.
  • The ACNC Register has these seven plus Sandra Clarke:
    • John Allison
    • John Anderson
    • David Brown
    • Kenneth Chapman
    • Sandra Clarke
    • Timothy Clemens
    • Alan Jeffrey Hall
    • Stephen Kerr
      • Stephen is the Executive Director of the CMA Standards C0uncil, Christian Ministry Advancement Ltd‘s ‘major new initiative, accrediting Christian organisations against a set of standards of good governance, financial oversight, and fundraising ethics.’
        • So perhaps he’s now only part-time with this legal firm?
    • There are 35 directorships recorded for the name ‘John Anderson’, 20 for ‘David Brown’, and seven for ‘Kenneth Chapman’. And the register only covers charities, not all not-for-profits, and no for-profit organisations. Therefore, if after eliminating the charities that don’t belong to the OCA director, you are left with his total being more than a handful, it would be legitimate for you to question whether his ability to discharge his fiduciary responsibilities is threatened.

To whom is OCA accountable?

 

 

  1. The law in this area is not straightforward – is an internet invitation ‘fundraising’ for instance? – and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.
  2. There is no mention of evangelism in the ‘Statement of Faith’; the constitution doesn’t even mention Christianity.
  3. For one opinion on the strength of that accountability, see the section Activities in this review.
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