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Scripture Union Queensland: charity review

Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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

I sent a draft of this review to the charity. I got an immediate automated response[5] that told me that the Finance Department had received the review. It is now 10 days after the date of publication I gave them, but I have heard nothing.


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?[6].

1.  A search on the ACNC Register of charities for ‘Scripture Union QLD’ comes up empty. Using the name in the logo, SU QLD, brings up the Scripture Union Queensland (SU QLD)[7].


2.  Nothing on the Register or the website indicates that SU QLD uses door-to-door or street collectors.


3.  SU QLDs ‘Donate’ pagebegins with ‘https’ and…there is a closed padlock symbol next to the website’s URL in the address bar”. 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:

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 is allowed to 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? This would fit with the answer to this FAQ on the website:

Schools Ministry Fund

There are only two times that the Fund is mentioned on the website, both in brochures promoting the charity, and both as the name to which a cheque should be made payable[8].


5.  The use of your donations

Objects / Mission




See ‘Our services’[10].

Chaplaincy in 2018 [Annual Report 2018, page 8]:

Camps in 2018 [Annual Report 2018, page 10]:

Training in 2018 [Annual Report 2018, page 12]:

A2B in 2018 [Annual Report 2018, page 14]:

Sports Ministry in 2018 [Annual Report 2018, page 15]:

Cross-Cultural Innovations in 2018 [Annual Report 2018, page 17]:


Sharing the Gospel[11][ix]?

Yes, but they are not meant to[12] in the Chaplaincy program[13]:

SU QLD is required, by its accreditation with the CMA Standards Council (Standard 1.2) to have a statement of faith. There still isn’t one on the website, nor is there a ‘What we believe’ section.



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

ACT is included because SU QLD employ the chaplains there:

So why isn’t ACT mentioned when chaplaincy is described on the website[14]:


Giving options

You can ‘Give to where it is most needed’ or choose a destination:

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

Why does a search not bring up ‘Schools Ministry Fund’[15]. How does one donate to the Fund online?


Donations revenue

From the Consolidated[16] Financial Statements (Group Financial Report 2018):

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


Cash spent

This is the only information about where the cash went on operating activities:



Resources consumed (i.e. accrual)

The accrual section of the Report (with last year in the second column) is more helpful:

72% 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’)[18].

The second largest expense was ‘Ministry expenses’, $3.67 m, for another 12% 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[19].

That’s little or no explanation of the destination of 84% of the expenses[20].

‘Employee benefits expense’, for 448 full-time equivalent staff[21] [AIS 2018], was $24.27 million [Note 3]. What is the relationship between these expenses and the donations received to support chaplains?

These are the people (directors) responsible for this disclosure (from the ACNC Register:

Diann Feldman

Kevin Gordon

Louise Howarth

Mark Silby

Ross Gillam

Sally-Ann Davis (‘Secretary’)

Sean Hubbard

Stephen Griffin

Storme Vunderlink[22]

The website listing confirms that Davis, the Secretary, is incorrectly included.



Nothing systematic found.

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.


Please contact me if you need a more in-depth review.




  1. See here for the previous 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. Hello, Thank you for your recent email.  Your request has been assigned to the job number 10308431.  If your request is urgent please phone Finance Department on (07) 3112 6460.
  6. 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].
  7. Allthough 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:
  8. https://www.suqld.org.au/about/
  9. The information for the chart on the ‘Making every dollar count’ page is based on the 2016 accounts.
  10. [ix] ‘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].
  11. The website no longer has information on the number of complaints of proselytizing. This was the last one:The national rate is 13 complaints of proselytising per annum (three year average). With 2,900 schools having chaplains, the rate of proselytising complaints is 0.4 per cent per annum, and has been declining year on year. In 2013, there was one complaint nationally. (This is the footnote to that quote: ‘These are government figures supplied at the Senate estimates hearing on 4 June 2014, reported at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/09/ complaints-about-school-chaplaincy-programme-on-the-decline-figures-show (accessed 14 June 2014).’ 
  12. The same answer is given to a FAQ on the website:
  13. And in the FAQs on the website:
  14. There is a Note in the Financial Report about the Fund:
  15. ‘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:
  16. 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.
  17. This lack of information is not consistent with what SU QLD say on page 6 of the Annual Report 2018:
  18. The Annual Report 2018 (page 23) introduces a different classification of expenses, with more undefined terms:
  19. SU QLD’s Note about the implications of a recent Royal Commission, information not legally required, shows that they are prepared to include additional information so that the reader has the full picture.
  20. There are also somewhere between 3500 [AIS 2018] and 2644 [Annual Report 2018, 16] volunteers.
  21. 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).
  22. Unfortunately, the ACNC appears to have removed this article: