Care: At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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 email@example.com.
This is a review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink. Missions Interlink is ‘the Australian network for global mission’ and a means for a Member to get income tax exemption when it might not otherwise be available.
Both Members and Associates have to accept a set of standards, the introduction to which includes this statement:
In addition, Power to Change says that on its website that “We appreciate any feedback and observations you would like to communicate to us.”
I sent the charity a draft of this review. Like last year, they…did not respond.
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
- There is a registered charity in that name.
2. There is nothing to indicate that Power to Change uses third-party (donation) collectors.
3. The web address begins with a closed padlock symbol, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above]. At the beginning of the page where you give the last four numbers of your bank account or credit card, you are told that the Commonwealth Bank’s BPoint is used, so your credit card information, entered on the following page, is safe.
4. Although donations to Power to Change are not tax-deductible, it is a ‘legitimate’ charity. Tax-deductible donations to its subsidiary, Global Aid Network Ltd, are solicited on the Power to Change website. (The Financial Report 2018 does not disclose how much was collected in tax-deductible donations.)
5. The use of your donations
Objects / Mission (Purpose)
Neither of these things is part of an ACNC Register entry, but the Power to Change constitution is lodged there, and it shows the company’s object is ‘to pursue the advancement of the Christian faith’.
The ‘mission’ is not on the website, but the ‘purpose’ is:
Here’s how they are described on the ACNC Register:
There is no explanation on the website of “missionary society” (a term not so often used nowadays). Merriam-Webster defines it as “a local, denominational, or interdenominational religious organization dedicated to the support of Christian missionary work”.
When this is translated on the website, it is not only different to the activities described in the constitution (under the ‘Object’ quoted above), but the two expressions there are not the same: priorities and strategies:
Sharing the Gospel? 
They ‘do believe that verbally communicating Jesus’ story…is important.’ In then saying, a few sentences on, that they don’t proselytize, that is ‘Convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another’, is confusing.
Giving options online
The money sought for implementing these strategies is expressed as three destinations, ‘To National Priorities”, ‘To a Missionary’ and ‘To a Ministry’, and one method (‘Bequests and Enduring Donations). There is a long list of missionaries (including the unexplained ‘International Missionary’ and ‘Other’) and 18 ministries.
For the missionaries, there is no link to the above strategies. For the ministries, it is not always clear to which strategy you are contributing.
None of the giving options match the ‘Global Aid’ strategy. But if you select ‘Global Aid’ under ‘Strategies’ (see above) you are taken to a page which has a link to separate website. Here Global Aid Network Ltd is called a ‘partner’, but as a subsidiary of Power to Change, this misrepresents the control that Power to Change has over Global Aid Network Ltd.
Other than those involved in ‘church movements’, and a few stories, the website does not have any information about the missionaries.
There is no search facility on the website, but a sampling of the ministries using site:powertochange.com.au [ministry name] shows that you should be able to find information on each on the website.
So almost no connection with the giving options above.
All donations are contributions, so without explanation, this classification doesn’t make sense. And Power to Change gives no explanation.
This is the only information about where the cash went on operating activities (with the figures for last year in the second column):
Although this level of disclosure may be compliant with the letter of the applicable Accounting Standard ( AASB 107), it is not consistent with either the intent of the Standard and paragraphs 14 and 19, or what is reasonable to expect from a major Christ-led charity that is reporting a true and fair view.
Resources consumed (i.e. accrual)
- When it comes to the translation of activities into expenses incurred, this is the only information given:
- This classification is of no help in understanding the relative weight given to the strategies/ministries described above.
- And there is no explanation, in the statements, of the destination of the ‘Personnel’ expenses (71% of the total).
- Despite saying, in the Notes to the Financial Statements (Note 4), that ‘The entity has sought legal advice and is of the opinion that missionaries are not employees”, they report (a) the ‘Personnel’ figure as ‘Employee expenses’, and (b) 132 ‘full-time equivalent’ employees [Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2018].
- 76% of the employee benefits owing (Note 13, Note to the Financial Statements), are the unexplained ‘Other employee benefits’.
- The listing implies that there are no ‘foreign missionaries’ in the ‘Personnel’ figure. Is this correct?
- The extract, from an article ‘What did God do in our 50th year?, is the only mention of ‘foreign missionaries’ on the website:
- What’s the difference between a missionary who is ‘overseas’ and a ‘foreign’ missionary?
- $863K (‘Other operating expenses’ is far too large a figure to be unexplained.
- Power to Change also invested another $1.72 million in Property, plant and equipment.
From the ACNC Register (but not on the website), these are the people (all men) responsible for this disclosure:
‘Impact’ means the changes for the better in the beneficiaries as a result of Power to Change’s activities. The website has a presentation, ‘Power to Change: 2018 Review’, which contains many facts and figures, but little that could be described as measures of impact.
Contact me if you need a more in-depth review.
- See here for last year’s review. ↑
- 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?
- The ACNC implies, therefore, that it is a ‘legitimate’ charity. But this is not correct – as the ACNC itself points out, registration is voluntary. ↑
- It still hasn’t registered its name as a business name. ↑
- Which of these two was the beneficiary of a $589K loan from Power to Change? There are no details for this ‘Loan to Subsidiary’ [Note 9, Notes to the Financial Statements]. ↑
- Power to Change does not explain the omission of this charity in its list of subsidiaries in the Financial Report 2018. ↑
- The ACNC’s information (in its article above) is out-of-date. ↑
- ‘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]. ↑
- Power to Change answered No to ‘Fundraising online’ in their AIS 2018. Plus said that it didn’t intend to fundraise in 2019. ↑
- 76% of the employee benefits owing (Note 13, Note to the Financial Statements), are the unexplained ‘Other employee benefits. ↑
- The figure for Property, plant and equipment in Note 11(a) does not agree with the figure in the balance sheet. ↑
- The number of non-executive directors out of six is between none and two [Note 16(a), Notes to the Financial Statements]. ↑