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Archived: …Presbyterian World Mission Committee: mini-charity review for donors

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Mini-review of Presbyterian Church of Australia Aust (sic) Presbyterian World Mission Committee (PWMC), as an organisation that seeks donations. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

Is PWMC registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • Other registrations:
    • The ABN record says that PWMC is incorporated, but this is incorrect.
    • Not licensed to fundraise in the six states in which it says it operates. However, PWMC may argue that it is exempt in the ACT because they are accredited with AusAID, in Queensland because they are a ‘religious order’, and in Victoria because they can marry people. Plus 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.

What do they do?

  • ‘What do we do?
    • aid and refugee work
    • audio distribution of the Bible
    • Bible translation
    • church planting
    • teaching English as a Second Language
    • Evangelism
    • IT support
    • mission aviation
    • primary/secondary education
    • short term work parties to Vanuatu
    • theological education
    • training Australian indigenous leaders
    • university lecturing
    • …and many other activities that help spread the gospel [APWM Information Leaflet, here.]

Do they share the Gospel?

  • Although it is only one thing in this long list, one would expect that at least some of the missionaries doing good works are also sharing the Gospel.

What impact are they having?

  • There is no indication that they are assessing their impact. (I searched for ‘outcomes’ too.)

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

  • The figures for PWMC are contained within those of the Presbyterian Church (New South Wales) Property Trust, along with those for eight other Presbyterian organisations.
    • You might ask them why, if they are a national organisation, their figures are they included in the accounts for a NSW organisation?

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No.

Is their online giving secure?

  • PayPal is used, so yes.

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

  • There are choices, but they are not specified on the website.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • They don’t have to report, their figures being included in a Group Financial Report. (That Report was submitted six days before the final date.)

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2015: Yes – because none is required.
  • Financial Report: Yes – because none is required.
  • Group Financial Report (the report that includes PWMC’s figures):
    • You might ask how a true and fair view is shown if accounts that cover nine separate entities, including PWMC, don’t give any information about those organisations and, more particularly, their financial situation, and
    • You might question the decision that for an organisation as large, far-reaching and complex as the Presbyterian Church (New South Wales) Property Trust, there is nobody who relies or will rely on the financial statements to help them make decisions, and therefore that the directors’ decision to produce the type of financial statements that don’t comply with all the Accounting Standards is correct.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • NA. (Not shown.)

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • She gave a ‘clean’ opinion. But as it’s on the consolidated financial statements, statements where PWMC is mentioned only on the cover as one of nine other entities whose figures have been included, you might question how much comfort you can take from that.

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

  • No. The following sections are blank: ‘Phone’, ‘Website, ‘Who the Charity Benefits’, and ‘Operates in (Countries)’.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • There’s nothing about directors or a governing body on the website. ‘Responsible Persons’ on the Register shows two people.
    • Given that it’s a body belonging to an institutional church, it’s likely that these two are not in control, at least not on their own. The answer, at least formally, lies in the governing document.
      • The governing document on the ACNC Register is a sheet of paper with a link to a collection of documents on the church’s website. I have not read these in order to find the answer.

To whom is PWMC accountable?

  • They are, apart from the ACNC, accountable because of their membership of Missions Interlink.
    • However, when they describe their membership, they make no mention of the accountability aspect.
      • For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

Is it responsive to feedback?

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