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Archived: The International Nepal Fellowship (Australia) Limited: 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Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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.

[Update: A paragraph was added to the last question on 17 October 2016]

Mini charity review of The International Nepal Fellowship (Australia) Limited (INF) as an organisation that fundraises from the public. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

Is INF registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • Other registrations:
    • As a public company, a company limited by guarantee.
    • INF operates – according to the ACNC Register – in all states except Tasmania, and has a public invitation to donate. But it is only registered to fundraise in NSW and Queensland.
      • The law in this area is not straightforward – is an internet invitation ‘fundraising’ for instance? – and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.

What do they do?

  • From the description of INF on the website that serves all The International Nepal Fellowship organisations:
    • Inspiring Aussies to help bring about ‘fullness of life’ for the most marginalised people in Nepal.
      • i.e. principally fundraising.
  • More specifically, what they did in 2015 (from their Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2015:
    • In the last financial year, INF Australia has pursued its charitable activities in the following ways: 1. We worked in partnership with charitable organisations in Nepal to resource development and welfare projects through financial grants, training, monitoring and evaluation, and advice and support. 2. We provided humanitarian assistance to people affected by earthquakes in Nepal. 3. We enabled fourteen Australians to serve as long-term volunteers in Nepal, improving the livelihoods of the poor and marginalised and building the capacity of Nepali people to address extreme poverty. In addition, two served short-term and another eight people visited Nepal. 4. Using printed media, email, social media, conferences and meetings we have communicated regularly with our supporters (numbering around 1,200 people) and the wider Australian community to share stories about the impact of extreme poverty, the work of INF Australia’s partners in Nepal, and the impact of Australian Aid, both from the government and the wider development community. 4. We have continued to manage a tax-deductible Relief Fund whose management committee have worked to strengthen relationships with partner organisations, monitor how our grants are used (including grants from the Australian government) and help partner organisations improve the effectiveness of their monitoring and evaluation, planning and project implementation.

Do they share the Gospel?

  • No.
    • This is consistent with the last ‘Entity subtype’ they selected for the ACNC Register, their receipt of money from the Australian government, and INF’s objects (in its constitution).

What impact are they making?

  • For the Community Health and Development work done by the international organisation, not INF particularly, see here.
  • Nothing else systematic on outcomes found.

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

  • INF claim that 91% of expenses ‘are directly incurred in aiding Nepal projects and programmes’ [page 6, Financial Report]. Note, however, that
    • these expenses include not only ‘Accountability and Administration’, but also ‘International Programs – program support costs’, ‘Community Education’, and ‘Domestic Programs Expenditure’ (i.e. in Australia); and
    • even excluding the spending in Australia, the ‘directly incurred’ just means ‘sent to Nepal’.
    • None of the above items are defined.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • According to the ABN record (via the ACNC Register), yes. Both as an organisation and for a fund that it operates, International Nepal Fellowship (Australia) Relief Fund.
    • This matches what is shown on the giving page on the international website’s page for Australia.
    • However, it does not match what is shown in the Table of Cash Movements For Designated Purposes in the Financial Report (page 11). Apart from donations for ‘INF Volunteers’, some donations to ‘Nepal Projects’ were also non-tax deductible

Is their online giving secure?

  • It appears that PayPal is used, so yes.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes (lodged five and a half 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 four and a half months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2015: Not quite. There are no outcomes given, and a number of the figures in the Income Statement do not match those in the Financial Report.
  • Financial Report 2015: Questionable
    • The directors have decided that INF, an organisation that earned over $2 m revenue, including $1.72 m in gifts from ‘around 1200 people’, operates in seven states, and appeals publicly for donations, has no users, either present or prospective, who rely on the financial statements to make decisions. This means that they can produce special purpose financial statements, statements that do not have to comply with all the Accounting Standards.
    • The auditor contradicts the directors, saying that general purpose reports were produced.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • No obvious concerns.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • He gave a ‘clean’ opinion. To take the right amount of comfort for this finding, please read here and here.
    • Note, however, that he says that the financial statements he audited are not the type that the directors said they produced.

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

  • Not quite. There are blanks under ‘Phone’ and ‘Website’, and INF is, at least according to the ACNC, long overdue in selecting an Entity Subtype.

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

  • Here’s the possibilities that come up on the international website donation page for Australia:
    • ‘Where most needed…’
    • ‘Community Development and Rehabilitation projects’
    • ‘Green Pastures Hospital and other clinical work’
    • ‘Support of I & N Baumann May’
    • ‘Support of the Steven family’
    • ‘Support of the Colville family’
    • ‘Support of the Mcgunnigle Hilder family’
    • ‘Support of C & D Price’
    • ‘Support of Sam Budhathoki’
    • ‘Other project or person…’

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • Said to be these six (bottom right). But probably also the seventh name on the ACNC Register, Matthew Johnson.

To whom are they accountable?

  • See second panel from the bottom here on the Australian page of the website for INF’s memberships. Only the ACFID information mentions accountability, but Missions Interlink has an accountability regime too. So does an organisation they don’t mention – the ACNC.
    • For one opinion on the strength of the Missions Interlink accountability, see the section Activities in this review.

Are they responsive to feedback?

  • When sent a draft of this review, they did not respond.  [17.10.16: but see below].
    • Which doesn’t seem consistent with the following statement on their webpage:
      • INF/A is committed to honesty and transparency and is a member of the Australian Council For International Development and a signatory to their Code of Conduct, adhering to high standards of management, public communication and disbursement of funds.
  • UPDATE, 17.10.16:
    • Six days after the period given for comment, the CEO sent this response:
      • Thank you for your email and comments regarding INF Australia’s accounts and ACNC profile. You have raise some good points, some of which have already been addressed in our latest annual report and others which will require more time to consider and address. We agree that it is important for organisations like ours to be transparent, accountable and effective in our work and we will use your feedback to learn and improve. If you have any further questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.