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Steer Incorporated: 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Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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 review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink’, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission[1][i] (and a means for a Member to get income tax exemption when it might not otherwise be available[2][ii]. ‘Steer Incorporated’ is one such Member.

Covid-19 – nothing on the website.


The name in the membership list links to a website in the same name. Here they seek loans from the public. (This is why you might lend to Steer.)

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 charity’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, and
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here’s the results for ‘Steer Incorporated’, with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[3]

1.  Steer Incorporated is a registered charity (Steer).

_ ________________________________________________________

2.  There is no indication on Steer’s website that it uses either volunteer or paid door-to-door or street collectors.


3.  Steer offers investments, including of money, but no money is transferred to them via their website.


4.  Steer’s ABN record says that it is not entitled to receive tax-deductible gifts. Steer doesn’t suggest otherwise.


5.  The use of your donations

Steer has six programs.

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 consolidate (produce a combined picture if they control over entities), nor to disclose related parties and transactions with related parties.

Steer’s auditor, Jeffrey Tulk is a partner in a firm of chartered accountants, Saward Dawson. This is what his professional body, Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand, has to say about the choice between the two types of reports[4]:

With $11.30 million in loans from ‘ministry partners’, gifts’ of $1.68 million, operations all over Australia and 19 overseas countries, and management by professionals, it is hard to see how a special purpose report is the right choice. But that is the choice that the directors of Steer 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 Steer’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.

If you are unsuccessful, then you are the type of user who is dependent on the other kind of statements, general purpose financial statements[5]. But the directors have said that you don’t exist:

Other issues with the Report

  • One of Steer’s six programs is ‘the Steer Incorporated Livestock Program’. Farmers give or sell their livestock to Steer. The accounting for this livestock (Note 1, Notes to the Financial Statements…’) is not as it should be:

There is no explanation why it is not possible to record the cost of these assets at the time of acquisition. Even absent this, why is it not possible to give the user at least some indication of the magnitude of this asset?

Although the absence of a qualification to the audit opinion should mean that the omission is not material, we don’t think you should rely on this.

Note also that there are crops as well as livestock.

Responsible Persons

The Directors’ Report [Financial Report 2019] says that these were the people on the board when the Financial Report was approved:

Donald Naunton

Rodney William White

Thian H The

Richard Lincoln Dickins

Steer’s governing document, though, says that it is a ‘Council’ that governs Steer, not a board. The Directors’ Report says that the membership of the Council consists of the directors plus these people:

Raymond Emmins

Colin Falls

Claire Harris

Fraser Holt

Nigel Leed

Robart Lang

Nigel Mason

Ian Rowse

Stephen Wheaton

Lee Lim

William Renshaw[6]

No explanation could be found for this inconsistency.

The ACNC Register shows only the four directors above plus Garth Grant and Nigel Leed (a Councillor) have joined the board since the Financial Report 2019. The website does not have Grant as a director.

The use of your donations

If you are still willing to consider donating to Steer, here is how your donations were used:

Cash spent

From the Statement of Cash Flows (with last year in the second column):

No further information is given on the first figure. So, we don’t have enough information to understand where the cash went.

Resources consumed (i.e. accrual)

This, from the Statement of Profit or Loss and Other Comprehensive Income, is how the activities translated into expenses (with last year’s figures in the second column):

There is no information given the major use of donations, ‘Gifts to missionary organisations’, 84% of the total. That’s not a true and fair view.

There is nothing in the Financial Report 2019 on how Steer ensures (a) that any overseas donation reaches the overseas organisation, and (b) that the gifts are used for the purposes given.


Nothing systematic found.

Charity response

Steer welcomes feedback. We sent a draft of this review to them, at the address for feedback, on 6 April 2020. At the time of publication, three weeks later, they had not responded.


  1.  https://missionsinterlink.org.au/about/

  2. A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering:

    • 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?

  3. Enhancing Not-for-Profit Annual and Financial Reporting, March 2013, accessed from their website March 2020.

  4. 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].

  5. The directors are accountable to the members. At 30 April 2019 there were 15 members. Directors must be members.