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The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge – Australia, 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Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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 charity review, a review for those with an interest in the Australian charity The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge – Australia (SparkLit)[i].

It is structured according to the charity’s entry on the ACNC[ii]Register, and its purpose is to supply some information extra to what is there, information that may be helpful in your decision about SparkLit.

It is up to you to decide whether any or all of the information presented here is what you need in order to make that decision, and whether you should seek any other information, either from the charity itself or from other sources.

Ministry response

Prior to publishing this review, I sent my observations to the charity, on 5 February 2016, and invited them to comment. The National Director, Michael Collie, submitted this for publication:

Thank you for sending me your draft review.

We appreciate your observations. We are addressing the issues of compliance and public record that you raised.

 The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Australia merged with the Australian Christian Literature Society in 2001 and was registered as an incorporated association in 2006. We have decided to remove reference to ACLS from our website and publications.

 Our treasurer, Roslyn Schnerring, is a manager and financial planner at RDL Accountants. No one associated with RDL will be auditing our accounts.

 Thanks again for your help.

Organisation of this review

  • The first part of this review is organised according to the headings in the Register entry. This is how to use this section of the review:
    1. For each heading in the register entry, first read the information under that heading.
    2. Then check if that heading is included below. (Headings for which there is no comment are not included.

Sources

  • ACNC Register (including links)
  • Google search on the charity’s names.
  • SparkLit website.
  • SparkLit on FaceBook, and YouTube. Not on LinkedIn or Vimeo.
  • State government fundraising licence registers.
  • Glassdoor

REGISTRATION DETAILS

Entity Subtype

  • A type consistent with sharing the Gospel.

CHARITY DETAILS

Legal Name

  • SparkLit is an SA incorporated association.
  • It’s ASIC registered name includes, as the SparkLit’s enabling legislation requires, ‘Incorporated’ at the end. Both the ABN and ACNC records omit this.
    • The same legislation requires SparkLit to use its full name, that is, including ‘Incorporated’ or ‘Inc’ ‘on every notice, advertisement, bill of exchange, receipt or other document given, published, drawn or issued by the association’ [Sec 54, Associations Incorporation Act 1985]. Presumably, in this day and age, this includes websites.
  • SparkLit announced a change of name in 2013 from ‘SPCKA – Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Australia’ to SparkLit. In the footer of each webpage it say that SparkLit was ‘formerly the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Australia and the Australian Christian Literature Society’. But its name never was either of these[iii], and all it did (and that was in 2012) was to add SparkLit as a business name.
    • And it is not ‘Sparklit Australia’ as claimed in the same footer.

Other Name(s)

  • This has been registered as all capitals, not ‘SparkLit’.
  • The other business name, SparkLit Stir, should be here[iv].
    • It was registered 28 October 2015, but it appears that it has yet been used.
    • One of the website main menu items is (the unexplained) ‘Stir’. This name does not belong to SparkLit, and an activity in Canberra competes for its (unregistered) use.

Charity ABN

  • Tax deductibility: Your donation to SparkLit will not attract a tax deduction.

Charity Street Address

  • Postal address, from the website: PO Box 198, Forest Hill Victoria 3131

Phone

  • This number can result in ‘The mobile service you have called has incoming call restrictions. Please try again later.
  • From the website: 1300 137 725. And it works.

ANNUAL REPORTING

  • AIS 2014
    • This is SparkLit’s compulsory Annual Information Statement 2014 (AIS 2014).
    • It gives basic financial information.
      • The lack of financial statements (see below) meant that the figures couldn’t be verified.
      • SparkLit made a loss equal to 17% of its income.
      • Income is shown as 100% ‘Donations and bequests’, but the total is incorrect (overstated) by $36,292.
      • ‘Employee expenses/payments’, for one full-time, 2 part-time and one casual, totalled $89,770. (Because of the design of the AIS 2014, it is not possible to be definitive that these were paid employees.)
        • This cost represented 42% of the total expenses.
      • ‘Grants and donations’ represented another 42% of the expenses.
      • The ‘Balance Sheet extract’ required in the AIS can only tell us that assets exceeded liabilities by just under $1 m. Presumably there is some real property in this. Or a large bank balance?
    • The AIS was lodged three days before the six-month deadline.
  • Financial Report 2014
    • SparkLit’s classification as ‘Small’ means that it does not need to lodge a financial report with the ACNC.
    • Although it doesn’t show it on its website, SparkLit is a member of Missions Interlink (a valuable membership– see ‘What membership means’ here.).
    • 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].
    • I asked SparkLit, as a potential supporter and somebody who reviews charities, for this ‘statement’. However, the National Director wanted to wait until the 2015 statement is available. I have therefore been unable to review the report that is current at the moment.

ABOUT THE CHARITY

  • Statement of Faith
  • None found.
  • The constitution cannot be checked because there isn’t one on the ACNC Register (just the By Laws), and nor is there one on the website.

Date Established

  • A very short history is given here.

Who the Charity Benefits

  • Vision
    • None found.
  • Mission
    • None found.
  • Activities (What did SparkLit do?)
    • From the Description of charity’s activities and outcomes in the AIS 2014:
      • Text books and reference works were supplied to students, church leaders and libraries in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Kenya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, and Tanzania. Grants made possible the publication of books in Arabic, Khmer, Nepali, Urdu, Dinka and Spanish. Training and encouragement has been provided for publishing professionals in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
    • Here is SparkLit’s website description of what they do.
  • Outcomes (What did SparkLit deliver?)
    • See ‘Activities’ above.
    • None found on the website.
  • Impact (How were people’s lives improved?)
    • None found.

Financial Year End

  • This means that the next financial report is due by 30 June 2016. Before that the financial information on the Register will be up to 18 months out-of-date. You may therefore like to call for more up-to-date information.

WHERE THE CHARITY OPERATES

Operating State(s)[v]

  • As an association SparkLit is a registrable Australian body. It has registered (ARBN 119 800 645)
  • SparkLit calls for donations on its website.
    • It does not hold a fundraising licence in any of the seven states that have a licencing regime.
      • Apart from exemptions, whether it needs these licences depends on whether those states think that Sparklit, by calling for donations publicly, are ‘fundraising’ in their State.

Operates in (Countries)

  • This list is over twice as long as the list under Activities (see above).

CHARITY’S DOCUMENT (SIC)

  • This document is the By Laws, not the prime governing document (as required by the ACNC.)
  • There is no Annual Report/Review available on the ACNC Register.
  • Nor on the SparkLit website.

RESPONSIBLE PERSONS

No. of Australian ‘responsible person’ positions[vi]

Antony Greenwood                 4

Lesley McGrath Woodley       1

Roslyn Schnerring                   4

Leonard Woodley                    1

Michael Raiter                         3

John Harrower                        7

Paul Douglas                            2

  • The names under ‘Leadership’ on the website, excluding the National Director, match the above list except that Doug Petering is additional.

(End of review)

 

 

[i] And, because it is a member of Missions Interlink, those interested in the accountability provided by that organisation.

[ii] Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, Australia’s national regulator of charities.

[iii] It appears that the second society was a branch of the first.

[iv] And, although not allowing trading, the trading name ‘SPCKA PUBLISHING’.

[v] This is how the ACNC explains ‘operating locations’ in their application guide: ‘You need to give details about where in Australia your organisation conducts (or plans to conduct) its activities.’

[vi] Because of the possibility of two (or more) directors having the same name on the register of responsible persons, it is not possible to be definitive about the number of directorships held.

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