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The European Christian Mission (Australian Section) 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Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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 a charity review of The European Christian Mission (Australian Section) Incorporated (ECM), 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.)

(To see the situation last year, read this review.)

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • ECM do not invite, on their website, feedback or complaints.
  • They do not mention accountability on the website.
  • I sent them a draft of this review. They…did not respond. [Last year they promised a response, but it didn’t come.]

Is ECM registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • ECM is an ACT incorporated association (A 00256).
  • But its office is in NSW, and it operates, per the ACNC Register, also in Victoria. It has the necessary registration (ARBN 054 215 388) to operate interstate.
  • Since it has no business name registered, ECM shouldn’t operate under any name other than its full registered name, as above. Not as
    • ecm Australia on its office
    • ECM Australia – New Zealand, ECM, and ECM Australia and New Zealand on its webpage, and
    • ECM and European Christian Mission Australia on its Facebook page.
  • ECM doesn’t have a fundraising licence in either of the states in which it operates. Nor in any of the others that have a licensing regime. This licensing is not mentioned on the website.

What do they do?

  • “The ECM office in Australia is working with a dedicated team of office staff, Council members and volunteers for the selection, sending and support of missionaries. In addition, the office mobilizes Christians in Australia and New Zealand to help build a different Europe, through prayer and financial support [from the website].

Does Empower share the Gospel?[2]

  • Via the missionaries, yes.

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?

  • The expenses are not classified to allow this calculation.

Do they pay their board members?

  • There’s nothing prohibiting this in the constitution.
  • There’s no line item in the expenses that suggests that such payments were made.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • No

Is their online giving secure?

  • PayPal is used, so yes.

Where were your (net) donations sent?

  • This is not disclosed. Even the country.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (five and a half months after their year-end, three and a half months earlier than 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 14 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016: No
    • The ‘Type of financial statements prepared’ is incorrect.
    • Why ‘No’ to ‘Financial report submitted to a state/territory regulator?’?
    • ‘Other Income’ and ‘All other revenue’ are incorrect.
    • No outcomes given.
  • Financial Report 2016: No. A true and fair view is not shown.
    • It appears that ECM controls the equivalent New Zealand organisation, European Christian Mission. But there is no explanation for the lack of consolidation of the New Zealand figures with those of ECM. (ECM merely says, in Note 10, that they provide ‘administrative services for the New Zealand operation’, and duplicates the financial information that is in the ‘Annual Return Summary for that charity on the New Zealand register of charities.)
    • The directors don’t say, but if we go by what the auditor says, they decided to produce special purpose financial statements, rather than the type that comply with all the Accounting Standards. This type is only appropriate if no user, present or prospective, is dependent on standard financial statements to make decisions. Which is stretching plausibility for an organisation that has 28 employees (27 of whom are full-time), operates in two states, collected $804K from givers, and calls for donations on its website.
    • A true and fair view is threatened by several other issues.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • There are too many issues with the Financial Report to make reliable comment.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

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

  • Yes

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

  • None if giving online, these if not:

  • The missionaries are shown on the Australian webpages, but not the projects.

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • There are Council members shown under ‘Staff and Trustees’ on the website.
  • The list on the ACNC Register (under ‘Responsible Persons’) is somewhat different. It includes Romeo Dinale and excludes Louise George, Wendy Mugridge, Jennifer Jones, and Brett Richardson:
    • Romeo Dinale
    • Peter Dixon
    • Guy Freeman
    • Matthew George
    • Peter Jones
    • Madeleine Koo
    • Alan Mugridge
    • Ruth Richardson
    • The name ‘Peter Jones’ appears on the register for 30 charities. And the register only covers charities, not all not-for-profits, and of course doesn’t include for-profit organisations.  If after eliminating the charities for which ECM’s Peter Jones is not a director, you are left with the total being more than a handful, it would be legitimate for you to question whether his ability to discharge his fiduciary responsibilities is threatened.
  • ECM say the Council is a combined one for ‘ECM Australia and New Zealand’:

    • This may be the way they think about it, and talk about it, but there are actually two separate charities, one registered in Australia, the other in New Zealand. And they have separate boards.

To whom are ECM accountable?

 

 

  1. Its two officers are ECM board members.Its street address is ECM’s street address.Its phone number is ECM’s phone number.Its shares a website with ECM.The constitution that ECM has lodged covers both charities.
  2. 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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