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Archived: The Church Missionary Society – South Australia Inc: mini charity review for donors

Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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

Mini charity review of The Church Missionary Society – South Australia Inc (CMSSA) as an organisation that seeks donations online. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

Is CMSSA registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • Other registrations:
    • As a South Australian incorporated association (A1032).
    • If it’s ‘carrying on business’ in the Northern Territory, as it appears to be, then it doesn’t have the required registration (an ARBN).
    • CMSSA operates – according to the ACNC Register – in South Australia and the Northern Territory. But it is registered in none of the seven states, including South Australia, that have a licensing regime.
      • The law in this area is not straightforward and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.

What do they do?

  • The only information available is what they wrote in the AIS 2015:
    • CMS workers have continued to serve as co-labourers with international partners, including churches, schools, universities and Christian organisations, in more than 35 countries around the world. Our partners are involved in ministries that fit our gospel vision and purpose. Our partners have welcomed CMS workers into their programs and ministries to share the lasting hope of Jesus Christ with people. We have continued to encourage churches and individuals in SA & NT to get involved in cross-cultural mission. CMS is a deductible gift recipient for provision of overseas aid in several countries, for aboriginal work in North Australia and in support of St Andrew’s Hall, the CMS training college in Victoria.
      • But apart from the sentence beginning ‘We have continued…’ this appears to be about Christian Missionary Society – Australia Ltd, not CMSSA.
        • It is also almost identical to what Christian Missionary Society Queensland With Northern NSW wrote.

Do they share the Gospel?

  • No, not according to the above information.

What impact are they having?

  • No information found.

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

  • If the unexplained ‘CMS-A Quota’ is defined as the money that goes to achieve the impact, then 36% is administration.
    • There is no total for employee benefits, but if we assume that they include salaries, leave, superannuation, and allowances, they are 24% of total expenses.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • Not for a donation to CMSSA.
    • Nevertheless, the giving page that they use, the one belonging to Christian Missionary Society – Australia Ltd, does offer tax-deductible giving.
    • This means that they are most likely, like Christian Missionary Society NSW & ACT, collecting donations for another charity. If these donations are included in revenue, revenue is overstated.

Is their online giving secure?

  • Security is not mentioned.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (but lodged two months late, nine months after their year-end).
    • 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 nearly 15 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2015: No.
    • No outcomes are given.
    • None of the figures in the Income Statement match those in Financial Report.
    • The description of ‘activities’ is largely about another charity (albeit an associated one).
  • Financial Report 2015: No
    • Two of the required four financial statements are missing.
    • There are no Notes to the accounts.
    • There is no Responsible persons’ declaration.
    • One six-line ‘Asset Statement’ is included in lieu of the required statement of financial position. It is far from what is required by the Accounting Standards.
    • One nine-line ‘Income Statement’ and one ‘CMS SANT FY2015 Income Statement & FY2016 Budget’ is included. Both fall well short of what is required by the Accounting Standards.
    • The auditor
      • only audited the two ‘concise’ statements
      • did not, as he says he did, follow the Australian Auditing Standards
      • is not a Registered Company Auditor.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • The Report is not a suitable basis for assessing the financial situation.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • This is rendered largely irrelevant by the deficiencies identified in the Financial Report (see above).

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

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

  • Having been redirected from the CMSSA page to the ‘Give to CMS’ page, that is, to Christian Missionary Society – Australia Ltd’s giving page, your choices are:
    • ‘General Missionary Support’
    • ‘General Tax Deductible Gift’
    • ‘A particular worker’ (with a dropdown listing all the workers)
    • ‘Other’

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Not shown on the webpages, but you can see who they have listed with the ACNC here.

To whom are CMSSA accountable?

  • Although not mentioned on their webpages, they are accountable as a Member of Missions Interlink[2].
  • They are also accountable to the ACNC.

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • When sent a draft of this review, they…did not respond.



  1. The website shown on the register belongs to another charity, Christian Missionary Society – Australia Ltd. CMSSA has some pages on it.
  2. For one opinion on the strength of this accountability, see the section Activities in this review.