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This is a review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink’, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission’ (and a means for a Member to get income tax exemption when it might not otherwise be available). ‘Reach Beyond’ is one such Member.
The charities’ regulator, 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 organisation’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.
- Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.
1. A search on the ACNC Register of charities for ‘Reach Beyond’ brings up a charity in that name (Reach Beyond).
2. Nothing on the Register or the website indicates that Reach Beyond uses door-to-door or street collectors.
3. The web address begins with a closed padlock symbol, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above].
The ‘Donate’ page says that ‘Protected by an industry-standard high grade 128bit encryption, using SSL technology’, with a Comodo logo underneath that (but the Comodo logo is not live.)
4. The ABN record says that no tax deduction is available for a donation to Reach Beyond. The ‘Donate’ page does not mention tax. But another page confirms the position:
Reach Beyond is nevertheless a legitimate charity.
5. The use of your donations
Objects / Mission
This mission does not explain these ‘short term objectives’, described in the Directors’ Report [Financial Report 2019]:
On the website.
In the Directors’ Report:
From the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2019 on the ACNC Register:
From the website:
- ‘Reach Beyond in Australia’
- ‘Kununurra Broadcast Facility’
- The broadcast schedule.
- ‘Alta-1 Partnership’
- Although described as partnership of two organisations with similar objects, isn’t this just Reach Beyond renting its old building to Alta-1?
- ‘Melbourne Studios’
Sharing the Gospel?
In some of its programs, yes.
- The use of your donations
The audited account of how a charity uses donations is the Financial Report on the ACNC Register.
Directors have a choice between two kinds of reports, special purpose or general purpose. The requirements of the former are less onerous than the latter. Preparing special purpose reports means that charities, do not need to (among other things) consolidate (produce a combined picture if they control over entities), and do not need to disclose related parties and transactions with related parties.
Reach Beyond’s auditor is Matthew Hung, CA, of rdl.accountants. This is what his professional body, Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand, has to say about the choice between the two types of reports:
With income of $1.03 million via many donors, management by professionals, eight volunteers, sites in two states, a far-reaching impact, and multiple tenants, it is hard to see how a special purpose report is the right choice. But that is the choice that the directors of Beyond Reach made.
And the auditor, a Chartered Accountant, agreed with them.
One of the implications of their choice is that you are meant to be able to ring Reach Beyond’s office and request that they prepare financial statements that answer the question or questions you have about the charity. Not much chance of success with that I’d suggest.
And if you are not successful, you are somebody who is dependent on the other kind of statements, general purpose financial statements. But the directors say that you don’t exist:
The Directors’ Report [Financial Report 2019] says that these were the directors responsible for the Financial Report:
The use of your donations
Should you still choose to donate, here is where the donations ($763K) and other revenue went:
From the Statement of Cash Flows (with last year in the second column):
No further information is this figure. So, we don’t have enough information to understand where the cash went.
Resources consumed (i.e. accrual)
This, from the Statement of Income and Expenditure, and with the addition of ‘Depreciation of Fixed Assets’ $99K, is how the activities translated into expenses:
The majority of the depreciation is on a class of Property, Plant & Equipment called ‘Plant & Equipment’. This asset is unidentified – as are ‘Leasehold improvements’ and ‘IBF Development’
The ‘Salaries & Wages’ equate to $76K per full-time employee. Reach Beyond calls the four couples here ‘our missionaries’. They solicit donations for these couples. Where does the expense of supporting these missionaries fit in the above list?
There is no breakup of ‘Kununurra Broadcast Facility’, nor is ‘Partnership Support’ explained.
In the Directors’ Report, Reach Beyond acknowledges that it needs ‘evidence of the effectiveness of the programs it broadcasts.’ The nature of this evidence is nowhere specified. Anecdotal reports of changed lives are given in the News section of the website, but no systematic study of effectiveness or impact was found.
Reach Beyond does not invite feedback or complaints via its website.
I sent a draft of this review to the charity on 6 April 2020. At the time of publication, nearly three weeks later, they had not responded.
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? [A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering]. ↑ ↑
Although Reach Beyond is a company, it has met the requirements to register without ‘Ltd’/’Limited’ on the end of its name. (This renders the registered business name unnecessary.) ↑
‘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]. ↑
Enhancing Not-for-Profit Annual and Financial Reporting, March 2013, accessed from their website March 2020. ↑
The accounting profession says that you are therefore ‘potentially interested in the information provided in general purpose financial reports’. [From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au]. ↑
The board is accountable to the members. There were 96 members at 30 June 2019. ↑
Although many auditors accept this level of disclosure as being compliant with 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. ↑
This item is a classification by function; the other items are by nature. The Accounting Standards require one or the other, not both. ↑
Given that they had previously returned a not insubstantial personal donation from the reviewer because they didn’t like what we did, this is no surprise. ↑