This is a 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.
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 nothing to suggest that QSA raises funds door-to-door or in public places.
The web address begins with a closed padlock symbol, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above].
Credit card information is now sought on the website, but the security of this information is not addressed.
QSA’s ABN record (via the ACNC Register record) says that it is entitled to receive tax-deductible gifts, both as a Public Benevolent Institution, and for its funds, Quaker Service Australia Inc Overseas Aid Fund and Quaker Service Australia Inc Aboriginal Concerns Fund.
Whereas the Home page and the ‘Donation form’ have a message saying that all donations are tax-deductible, the main entry to donating, the ‘Donate’ button on the main menu leads to a page where it is not mentioned.
Question 5 The use of your donations
Sharing the Gospel
The use of your donations
The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report.
The directors signed a statement that ‘financial statements and notes’
However, there are enough issues with the statements to seriously question whether this statement is true:
Statement of Profit or Loss and Other Comprehensive Income
- ‘Funds to international programs’ is an insufficient explanation of this $503K, 60% of the expenses. To whom were they sent and for what reason? How do we know that they were received and spent on the purposes for which they were given? [AASB 101.85 and 112].
- Why would ‘overheads allocated to projects’ be a reduction to the expense of those projects?
- The separate inclusion of ‘Employee benefits expense’ contravenes the Accounting Standards (AASB 101.99) – and the ACFID Code of Conduct.
- The allocation of expenses between projects and ‘overhead’ is not explained.
Statement of Financial Position
- ‘Plant and equipment’: The ‘Right-of-use assets’ are not identified. Nor is their depreciation rate. The figures for ‘IT Equipment…’ are incorrect.
- The largest current liability, $223K, ‘Contract liabilities’, is not explained.
Statement of Changes in Equity
- This does not comply with the Accounting Standards.
Notes to the Financial Statements
- Note 11: Donations received on behalf of ‘another agency’ should never be accounted for as expenses.
- Note 12: Why is there still no figure for ‘Key management personnel compensation’?
- Note 13: The related parties are not identified.
- Note 14: If QSA is waiting for project milestones to be reached before paying the provider, why is this not a contingent liability?
The auditor, Stephen Fisher, of Nexia Sydney Audit Pty Ltd, issued a ‘clean’ opinion. That’s auditing.
The people responsible for the Report
These were the directors who were responsible for the Financial Report 2021:
Mary Jane Hogan
The board is responsible to the members. The number of members is not reported; however, it appears that, from the constitution and the Management Committee’s Report, there is provision for 12 members other than the directors. That makes some accountability possible.
How the donations were used
This, from the Statement of Profit or Loss and Other Comprehensive Income, is how the activities translated into expenses:
‘Funds to international programs’
This is 60% of the expenses. ‘Employee benefits expenses’ is another 29%.
The destination of the money for programs is not given. Not even the country.
There is nothing in the Financial Report 2021 on how QSA ensures that (a) the money reaches the overseas organisation, and (b) it is used for the purposes given.
Commitment 8.3 of the ACFID Code of Conduct requires QSA to include in its annual report ‘A description of the most significant aid and development activities undertaken during the reporting period and their impact’. The ACFID gives this example:
“We drilled 20 wells which improved the lives of 1000 people in the region by providing access to clean drinking water. In turn, this lowered the incidence of water borne diseases by 50% and reduced the infant mortality rate by 75%.”
This matches the description of impact in the link in the heading above.
The same Commitment requires ALWS to include ‘information about evaluations’ in its annual report.
Although QSA say, in the Annual Report, that ‘independent evaluations of the effectiveness of QSA projects have been undertaken this year’ [page4], only one is mentioned [page 16]:
The description of the impact does not match the meaning of impact above.
Nothing else systematic about impact found on the website.
QSA, under a heading of ‘Feedback, Comments & Complaints’, says that it ‘is committed to achieving the highest standard it can in every area of its work.’ We sent a draft of this review to them. They said that it would be considered at the Management Committee meeting on 10 December. Six days later, and three days after the advised publication date, there’s been no further response.
- See here for our previous 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?
- QSA has the necessary provisions in its constitution to avoid having to put ‘Ltd’ / ‘Limited’ at the end of its name. ↑
- ‘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]. ↑
- QSA, after strongly disagreeing with us at the last review that there was anything they could do to avoid a qualified audit opinion for a lack of controls over ‘more remote fundraising activities,’ the problem has been resolved. Maybe due to change in auditor? ↑
- From the AIS 2021: ↑