This is a review of the organisation with the website Community for Constitutional Reform at Brindabella Christian College Inc (ReformBCC).
What reform is needed?
Expanding on its name, this is what ReformBCC says that it is about:
These are the ‘key issues’ that led to the formation of the Association:
Reform BCC have a low-key (under ‘More’ / ‘Get involved’) and indirect request for donations on their site:
Note that the money received so far have been ‘contributions.’ This is one of two named sources of funds allowed by the constitution:
Reform BCC do not say how many of the contributors qualified for the ‘right to return of funds.’
They also don’t say how this scheme avoids contravening the requirement for a not-for-profit to make no distributions to its members.
They also don’t explain the consequences of saying that a ‘contribution’, a word that is normally used synonymously with ‘gift’ or ‘donation’, is not a gift. It’s not a gift, and it’s not a mistake, for a third party, to reduce an asset, a reimbursement or payment of a claim, or an equity stake in the Association. So, it must be either a loan or revenue with a right to a refund.
ReformBCC nowhere mentions the need to comply with fundraising laws.
(Jump to ReformBCC’s response to the review.)
The ‘Inc’ at the end of ReformBCC’s name means that it is an incorporated association. This invariably means that the organisation is a not-for-profit. ReformBCC’s constitution, available via the website, confirms this.
The Association was registered in November 2022, over five months ago.
If you are giving to a not-for-profit most people would expect that the organisation doesn’t have to pay tax. ReformBCC’s payment of taxes is not mentioned in the constitution, nor, on the website. However, it would be reasonable to believe that ReformBCC wants all those tax concession for which such an organisation is normally eligible.
Here is the ATO’s information on which not-for-profits can get which tax concessions.
Is ReformBCC a ‘charity’?
ReformBCC’s purposes are given in Appendix 4 to its constitution. Here is the preamble:
Looks ‘charitable’ to us.
As a check, our there any similar organisations registered as charities? A search on the ACNC Register gives these charities that appear at least somewhat comparable:
And another the same.
ReformBCC do not address the issue of charity status or registration.
The review uses publicly available information to answer the questions that the charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), suggests that you ask before donating to ReformBCC.
The ACNC says
- Check the charity’s name.
- Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
- Be careful of online requests for donations.
- No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one, and
- Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.
Here are the results for ReformBCC:
Question 1: Check the charity’s name
You check the charity’s name here, the ACNC Register. This will tell you whether the charity is registered with the ACNC.
The search for ‘Community for Constitutional Reform at Brindabella Christian College Inc’ gives no result. Nor does ReformBCC.
As a check, you can search ABN Lookup. Charity status will be shown on an organisation’s ABN entry.
However, ReformBCC has not got an ABN. It is hard to see how it doesn’t need one.
Next port of call will be ASIC’s register of organisations. Here we find that ReformBCC is an ACT incorporated association. The name, however, is not quite the same as the one on the website – ‘CCR@BCC’ has been omitted. This mistake is confirmed when we check with the constitution and the ACT’s register of associations:
Question 2: Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation
There is nothing to suggest that Reform BCC cold calls people, has street collections, or uses third-party fundraising organisations.
Question 3: Be careful of online requests for donations
Reform BCC does not have an online donation facility.
Question 4: No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not legitimate
ReformBCC doesn’t have an ABN so it cannot apply for the status that would allow you a tax deduction for your donations (DGR status).
ReformBCC does not mention tax deductibility on the page where it seeks donations.
So, it may be a ‘legitimate charity’ (see above), but it is not a registered charity.
Question 5: The use of your donations
ReformBCC has yet to give a report on its use of the donations it has received. It has this statement on the website about past donations:
They do not say what will be done with donations received as a result of the current invitation to give (see above).
ReformBCC doesn’t say what financial reporting it will do in the future. Or whether it will get the accounts audited. Given its strong (justified) criticism of BCC for both poor and tardy reporting, it might be wise rectify this.
The decisions above are made by the Committee of the Association. The constitution requires a committee of at least seven.
ReformBCC does not disclose who is on the Committee. Only three have been disclosed publicly. This is understandable: in the past BCC has targeted individuals (including a ‘cease and desist’ letter to the writer).
But this doesn’t stop ReformBCC from disclosing the number of Committee members. In fact, given their strong opposition to the limited size of the BCC board, it might be wise.
An Association’s committee is accountable to its membership. ReformBCC’s enabling legislation requires at least five members.
We know of only three members, the three Committee members above. There should be at least another four (the others on the Committee), but ReformBCC’s aim is to have many more than that:
And the membership register (see below) is sealed to all but the Committee. Given their strong objection to BCC’s lack of membership, it would be good to know how ReformBCC is going with building this ‘broad membership base.’
Committee members must be (full) members of the Association.
ReformBCC does not disclose how many people have joined as members. Its Facebook Page has 75 Followers (who are not shown, presumably, again, for security reasons).
ReformBCC has not yet formally reported on the impact of its work.
ReformBCC does not invite feedback. Or complaints.
Neither are compulsory but, given ReformBCC’s criticism of BCC’s unresponsiveness, they might be wise.
We sent a draft of this review to the contact address on the website. They replied but chose not to make a public response.
- If is an organisation guided by the Bible, you might consider how its two different kinds of donations (gifts versus contributions with a refund possible) sits with the Biblical injunction against ‘unequal weights’ (Proverbs 11:1). (For instance, if you initially seek donations without mentioning the possibility of ‘contributions’ with a right to the possibility of a partial return of the ‘contribution’, are you happy later effectively telling the donors that they could have got ‘a better deal’? Would you be happy to be treated that way (Matthew 22:39)?) ↑
- Statement of Objectives (also known as the associations objects) ↑
- 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? ↑
- ReformBCC’s constitution is missing one of the two clauses it has one of the two clauses necessary to define it as a not-for-profit for the ACNC’s purposes. ↑