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Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor Incorporated: charity review

Charity registration 'voluntarily revoked', effective 30 June 2019.  No ABN at 19 August 2021.

This is a charity review of Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor Incorporated (SAUP), an organisation that seeks donations online, and is a member of Missions Interlink. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

For last year’s review, see here.

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • There is nothing about feedback, complaints, accountability or transparency on the webpage for Australia.
  • I sent them a draft of this review. Like last year, they…did not respond.

Is SAUP registered?

  • Yes, as a charity.
  • SAUP is a Queensland incorporated association (No. IA31696).
  • It operates, per the ACNC Register, in five states.
    • But it does not have the necessary registration, an ARBN, to operate outside Queensland.
    • Four of the states require charities to register if they are ‘fundraising’.
      • SAUP solicits donations on the internet.
      • Tasmania was not checked, but SAUP has no fundraising licences elsewhere. It does not explain why.
  • SAUP has no registered business names, so must use its full name in public.
  • It operates overseas, per the ACNC Register, only in India.
    • But doesn’t match the information in the Financial Report 2017: ‘Manila Team’ and an organization that is in Singapore, Cambodia and Canada, ‘Alongsiders International’, are two of the expenses.

What do they do?

  • SAUP is a ‘linking team’ of Servants.
  • The same page has this description of what SAUP does:
    • If you’re interested in Servants and you live in Australia – you’re not alone! A network of us across the country promote the work of Servants, participate in discernment, prepare folk to make the move to a slum, and to make staying there as hassle-free as possible. The Servants Australia office is located in Brisbane at Windsor Road Baptist Church, and provides the hub for a number of volunteers. Individuals with skills, experience and interest in Servant alongside the poor are in each State, and at times are available for face-to-face discussions.
  • And this is what they did in 2017 (from the AIS 2017):
    • In 2017 worked in Australia, raising awareness of issues in Asian slums, making contact with people interested in working in this environment and providing support and guidance as they considered their options. This included presenting and running information events at a number of key Australian Christian conferences and gatherings, as well as one-on-one support and relationship building with individuals considering future work in this environment. We also spent time supporting teams overseas and providing a link between them and supporters in Australia. This activity also included maintaining a small office at Red Hill to serve as a base for our coordinator and volunteers and for storing information.

Do they pay their directors?

  • From the expenses, it appears not.
    • It is not prohibited by their constitution.

Do they share the Gospel[1]?

  • No

What impact are they having?

  • Nothing systematic found.

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

  • On the giving page on the website, prospective donors are told that
    • Servants offices are fully staffed by volunteers and overheads are kept to a minimum in keeping with our commitment to simplicity. Donations can be made for specific Servants project funds or in support of individual missionaries.* No administration fee is taken out of donations to Servants projects and 100% of your gift will be sent to the field (emphasis in original).
      • But SAUP made grants and gave donations that totalled only 13% of donations received (AIS 2017).
      • And it is not ‘fully staffed by volunteers’: the AIS 2017 shows one employee.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No.
    • But SAUP promote a secular organisation, Global Development Group, as a means of getting a tax deduction:
      • Servants is an incorporated not-for-profit association in Queensland. We are presently not registered for Deductible Gift Recipient status therefore cannot issue tax receipts. However we partner with Global Development Group who provide tax receipts for the ‘Big Brothers and Big Sisters’ project in Cambodia, and ‘Lilok Organic Farm’ project in The Philippines. Other projects are currently in the process of obtaining tax deductibility status. 
        • What does this facility cost SA?
        • Global Development Group is not a Christian organisation, and would not be allowed to spread the Gospel via such projects anyway. The work therefore does not appear to be in the spirit of SAUP’s objects [Governing document, ACNC Register].

Is their online giving secure?

  • PayPal is used, so yes.

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

  • The form for a donation via PayPal invites you to “enter name of missionary or project)”, but the names of these missionaries and projects are not given on the website.

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • Apart from the money declared in the AIS 2017, $7K to ‘Workers Support’, and therefore most likely going to India, there are two other expenses that indicate money sent overseas: ‘Manila Team’ and ‘Alongsiders International’.
    • No further information is disclosed.
    • The Indian Government requires all foreign contributions to be reported, but without the name of the recipient, we can’t check.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (on the last day, seven months after their year-end, and at the same time as last year).
    • But if you are considering a large donation, I would ask for more up-to-date financial information – the accounts are for a year end that is now over 10 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2017: No
    • ‘Grants and donations made for use outside Australia’ omits two expenses that appear to be transfers to overseas recipients.
    • With an online invitation to give, ‘No’ is not correct as the answer to ‘intend to fundraise’.
    • No outcomes are reported.
  • Financial Report 2017: Yes
    • But only because, due to SAUP’s size, no Financial Report is required.
    • It has chosen to lodge one voluntarily, but the ACNC does not require such reports to comply with its requirements.
    • SAUP is a member of Missions Interlink, and one of their requirements is that members ‘have available for its members and supporters a clear and appropriate financial statement which has been approved by its auditor [Standards Statement, 4.1].
    • Although SAUP’s Report was ‘approved by its auditor’ it shouldn’t have been:
      • Two of the four required financial statements are missing.
      • The two statements that are included do not comply with the Accounting Standards.
      • The Notes are deficient.
      • The auditor’s details appear on the cover of the Report. Did he prepare the Report as well as act as auditor?

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • No comment

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

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

  • No
    • The website address is for the site that covers all the offices of the network worldwide.
    • ‘Date Established’ and ‘Who the Charity Benefits’ are blank.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • The directors are not mentioned on the website. From the ACNC Register they are:
    • Jon Eastgate
    • Nathan Elmes
    • Kelly Otto
    • Ralph Reilly
    • The board is accountable to the members. The number of members is not disclosed.

To whom is SAUP accountable?

  • As a charity, to the ACNC.
  • And to the Queensland regulator of incorporated associations.
  • Although it is an Australian association, another body, the ‘International Leadership Team (undefined), has the power to admit and the power to remove members [the constitution].
  • The page for Australia on the website claims membership of Missions Interlink. Confirmed.
    • For one view on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

 

 

  1. “Good living and social concern are important [to the cause of evangelism], but they are not uniquely Christian graces…I’ve met a lot of fine Hindus, Muslims and atheists. Just living the life is not going to bring someone to Christ. There is much more to it than that. We must help people, certainly, but we must also share with them why we are motivated to do so. We must stand against injustice, poverty and need, but we must at the same time point to the One who brings justice and who can meet the deepest need. Until they know our reasons, how can they come to know our Lord?” [Dan Armstrong, the Fifth Gospel: The Gospel According to You, Anzea Books, pp. 13-14]
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