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Scripture Union Queensland

Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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.

This is a review[1] in the series ‘Organisations accredited by the CMA Standards Council’. The CMA Standards Council is ‘a ministry of Christian Ministry Advancement[2], with a missionto help build faith and trust in Christian organisations, be they churches, charities, schools or otherwise, to enable them to achieve more effective outcomes[3]. Scripture Union QLD’ is one of these accredited organisations[4].


The ‘Scripture Union QLD’ is an organisation that seeks donations online. 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”:

  1. Check the organisation’s name.
  2. Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
  3. Be careful of online requests for donations.
  4. No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one.
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here’s the results for ‘Scripture Union QLD, with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[5]

1.  A search on the ACNC Register of charities for ‘Scripture Union QLD’ brings up the Scripture Union Queensland (SU QLD)[6].


2.  Nothing in SU QLD’s public materials indicates that SU QLD uses door-to-door or street collectors.


3.  SU QLD’s web address has a ‘closed padlock symbol next to the website’s URL in the address bar’, so the website is secure [the first ACNC article above].

But there is no information on this page, or subsequent pages, about the security of your information.


4.  A tax deduction is available, both to SU QLD as an entity, and to a fund it operates, Scripture Union Queensland Schools Ministry Fund[7].

The website information is not consistent with this:

The first four pages of giving options are tax deductible but presumably within the remaining 128 pages (!) there is a least one option that doesn’t entitle the giver to a deduction.

SU QLD, as an entity, falls under a specific type of educational endeavour in the tax law, the provision of ‘religious instruction in government schools’. ‘Religious instruction’ is not defined in that Act, but what can be done in schools is a State matter. Does this mean that its activities that are not ‘religious instruction in government schools’ don’t attract a tax deduction?


5.  The use of your donations

Objects / Mission

This is their ‘mission & vision’:


Statement of Faith (or similar)

Not on the website[8].


See here.

What they did in 2019: see this footnote[9] (from the Annual Report 2019, ACNC Register].

You wouldn’t know it from their website, but SU QLD runs the ‘chappies’ in the ACT:

Why the secrecy?


Sharing the Gospel?[10]

Other than in the Chaplaincy program, they are free to. And sometimes it is explicit.

Chaplains are not meant to:



SU QLD operates in Australia, per the ACNC Register, in Victoria, Queensland, and the ACT. And only in Australia [the Register].

The ACT we know about (see above), but no reason could be found for including Victoria.


Giving options

You can ‘Give to where it is most needed’, put the name of a ‘fund’ in a search box, or scroll through 132 pages of these ‘funds’.

Why is there is no mention of tax deductibility on this page?

Why does a search not bring up ‘Schools Ministry Fund’? How does one donate to the Fund online?

There is a Note in the Notes to the Consolidated[11] Financial Statements [Financial Report 2019] about the Fund:

How does this fit with the information under question 4. Above?


Donations revenue

From the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements (Financial Report 2019, with last year in the second column):

Where are the donations for chaplains in this?

If SU QLD’s DGR status is for ‘religious instruction in government schools’ (see above), on what grounds are the TAFE donations tax-deductible?


Resources consumed (i.e. accrual)

From the accrual section of the Report (with last year in the second column):

  • 70% of the expenses is ‘Chaplaincy expenses’. There is no explanation of this item. While we might be expected to know what a ‘chaplain’ is, we can’t be expected to know what expenses result from having these people, nor the relationship between these expenses and the other major expenses (‘Administration’, ‘Ministry’, and ‘Marketing’).
  • The second largest expense was ‘Administration expenses’. What’s in this?
  • The third largest expense is ‘Ministry expenses’, $3.30 m, for another 11% of the total. There is no explanation of this term, or what the figure includes. The whole entity, SU Qld, is a ‘ministry’, so the term conveys little or any information.
  • SUQLD was required to ‘disclose additional information on the nature of the expenses’[12]. Apart from the three expense disclosures required by other Accounting Standards, it included information on only the two named in AASB 101 (depreciation and amortisation expense and employee benefits expense.
    • ‘Employee benefits expense’, for 454 full-time equivalent staff[13] [AIS 2019], was $24.71 million [Note 3].
    • $54.4K per employee.
  • What is the relationship between these expenses and the donations received to support chaplains?
  • On the website page headed ‘Making every dollar count’, SU QLD introduce another way of classifying the expenses:

Again, the terms are not defined.

Directors responsible

From the Directors’ Report [Financial Report 2019], these are the people responsible for the Financial Report 2019:

Diann Feldman

Kevin Gordon

Louise Howarth

Mark Silby

Ross Gillam

Sean Hubbard

Stephen Griffin

Storme Vunderlink[22]

If we assume that Sally-Ann Davis is still incorrectly included on the ACNC Register (she is the Secretary), then both the Register and the website show that the composition of the board is still the same[14].



No dedicated ‘Impact Statement’ since 2015:

Nothing systematic found on the website, including in the Annual Report 2019.

Standard 5.6 of the CMA Standards council standards (see above) requires that regular program evaluations must be performed. There is still no mention of these on the website.

 Charity response

We sent a draft of this review to the charity. They…did not respond.


  1. See here for the last review.
  2. Link added by me.
  3. Emphasis in original.
  4. It achieved this by meeting the Council’s ‘Principles and Standards of Responsible Stewardship’, and therefore is able to be promoted as a ‘high quality organisation
  5. 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].
  6. Although it is a public company, SU QLD is permitted to omit ‘Ltd’/’Limited’ at the end of its name; the ABN record only shows three of their business names:
  7. No description of this Fund could be found on the website. There are only two times that the Fund is mentioned, both in brochures promoting the charity, and both as the name to which a cheque should be made payable.
  8. SU QLD’s accreditation with the CMA Standards Council (Standard 1.2) requires it to ‘have a written statement of faith, approved annually and unanimously by its governing body, which is consistent with, and is not in conflict with, the Nicene Creed or otherwise satisfactorily demonstrate its commitment. If the last phrase is giving an alternative to the written statement, then SU QLD are compliant (and the Standards Council perhaps need to revisit this Standard).
  9. ‘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].
  10. ‘Consolidated’ means that two or more entities have been combined for reporting because SU QLD controls one or more other entities. The Notes to the accounts show that it is just one entity:
  11. Paragraph 104, AASB 101, Presentation of Financial Statements, aasb.gov.au.
  12. There were also 4492 [AIS 2019] volunteers.
  13. The quorum for a board meeting does not meet the requirements of SU QLD’s accreditation with the CMA Standards Council (Standards 3.2, 3.3).