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Vision Christian Fellowship Inc: 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Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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 review of the organisation ‘Vision Christian Fellowship’, principally for those who are existing donors, or who are considering donating. The website has an invitation to give to the purchase and fit out of this building[1].

I sent a draft of this review to the church on 13 May 2019. They did not respond.

The charities’ regulator, 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.
  5. Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.

Here’s the results for ‘Vision Christian Fellowship’, with #5 supplemented by the essentials of the ACNC’s What should I consider when deciding which charity to support?[2].

1.  A search on the name ‘Vision Christian Fellowship’ on the ACNC Register of charities leads to a registered charity in the name Vision Christian Fellowship Inc (Vision). The email address given on the Register entry for that charity shows that it is the same organisation[3].


2.  It would be unusual for a church to use third party collectors. There is nothing to indicate that Vision does.


3.  The “web address begins with ‘https’”, there is a “closed padlock symbol next to the web address in the address bar”, so the website is secure [the first ACNC article above]. However, you will not need to test it as there is no online giving facility.


4.  The Australian Business Register (linked from FusionVision’s ACNC Register record), says that the charity is not entitled to receive tax deductible gifts. Even for its Building Fund. It is, however, a legitimate charity.


5. Objectives/Mission

Nothing found.


See the main menu item ‘Ministries’.

From the Annual Information Statement (AIS) 2018, here what they said they did in 2017-18:

Sharing the Gospel[4]?



Vision operates in Australia, per the ACNC Register, only in the ACT (at 60-62 Gladstone Street, Fyshwick).

There’s nothing on the Register, but the countries to which Vision sent the $77K [AIS 2018] should be listed.

How the mission and activities translated into dollars spent

The audited account of how donations are used is the Financial Report 2018 on the ACNC Register. Are you one of Vision’s 150 volunteers [AIS 2018]? Perhaps you intend to donate or are one of the people who gave $706K[5] [AIS 2018][6].  Can you ring Vision’s office and request that they prepare financial statements that answer the question or questions you have about the charity?  Highly unlikely.  Therefore you are dependent on the normal kind of financial statements, general purpose statements. Yet the members of the Committee (see below), with the agreement of the auditor[7], say that you don’t exist:

So, the financial statements have not been drawn up to suit you.  Why, then, would you rely on them? 

There’s another reason why you should be cautious about the statements:  the $706K of donations is what was recorded, not necessarily what was received. The Committee were either unwilling or unable to put in place the internal controls to ensure that the money that you gave made it into the bank account, and then into the books. So, the auditor was unable to give a ‘clean’ opinion, but qualified the accounts:

That’s a qualification on 98% of the revenue.

Should you still choose to do so, here is where the donations went (with last year’s in the second column):

  • There were three full time, two part time, and three casual employees [AIS 2018].

The website does not identify the people – the board – who are responsible for the above situation. But from the ACNC Register, they are:

Alice Thompson

Paul Thompson

Alison Baker

Andrew Baker

Eric Van lerschot

Ruth Van lerschot

Justin Hartley

Kathryn Hartley[8]


Nothing systematic on outcomes or impact was found.



  1. The cost will be $2 million plus the fit out. I cannot find where it tells donors (a) the expected cost of the fit out, (b) how much they can borrow should the donors not give the total, and (c) what that borrowing would mean for the congregation
  2. 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? [A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering].
  3. As associations may either be incorporated or unincorporated, Vision’s enabling legislation provides that it must use its full name when dealing with the public:The website contravenes this. (Vision do not have a business name registered.)
  4. 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.
  5. The giving to the Building Fund is not identified.
  6. From Objective of General Purpose Financial Reporting (SAC2), www.aasb.gov.au: http://tedsherwood.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/word-image-15.png
  7. Eric Hummer of Synergy Group Audit Pty Limited.
  8. Two of the eight are staff members; with the whole membership from which to choose it is interesting that the board is composed of what appears to be four couples. With selection of board members being made by the existing members, hopefully the conflict of interest was dealt with appropriately.