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Archived: Wise Choices for Life Inc: mini-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Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.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.

Mini charity review of Wise Choices for Life Inc (WCL) 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 it responsive to feedback?

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

Is WCL registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • Other registrations:
    • As a Victorian incorporated association (A0056675X).
    • WCL operates, per the ACNC Register, in all states.  It also has an invitation to give on the internet.
      • It does not have the registration necessary, an ARBN, to operate interstate.
      • It does not have a fundraising licence in any of the seven states that have a licensing regime[1].
    • They routinely use the name without ‘Inc’ or ‘Incorporated’. It may well be that some of this use contravenes the requirements of their enabling legislation.

What do they do?

Do they share the Gospel?

  • No

What impact are they having?

  • The one mention of impact measurement on the website is for another organisation; neither outcomes nor results are mentioned on the website. Or in the AIS 2016.

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 such a calculation.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • Yes

Is their online giving secure?

  • PayPal is used, so yes.

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

  • Ugandan Regional Coordinator’
    • There is no mention of this role on the website.
  • Training materials’
  • Marg Docking personal support’
    • How this relates to the declaration of no employees is not explained.
  • ‘General Expenses’
  • Gifts for Life’

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes. (Four months after year end.)

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016: Apart from the lack of outcomes, yes.
  • Financial Report 2016: Yes – but only because they don’t have to lodge one.
    • Having lodged one voluntarily, there is no requirement for it to comply with the ACNC’s requirements. (And it doesn’t.)
    • Their Associate membership of Missions Interlink requires them to “have available for [their] members and supporters a clear and appropriate financial statement which has been approved by its auditor.”
      • It is arguable that a financial report that lacks two of the four financial statements required by the accounting profession, deviates markedly from what is required for the other two, and has no directors’ declaration, is not ‘appropriate’.
      • The report by Geoffrey Kidd, a CPA, is a modification of the template for a UK Charities Commission ‘independent examination’. Although it is a ‘clean’ opinion, it is, as Geoffrey acknowledges, neither an audit nor a review, and therefore not something that is acceptable in Australia.

What financial situation was shown in that Report?

  • After a surplus of 5% of income last year, this year’s surplus increased to a relatively high 12%.
  • Working capital (current assets less current liabilities) is strongly positive.
  • WCL is currently operating, per the ‘Balance Sheet’, without any property, plant or equipment.
  • There are no long-term liabilities.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • See ‘Does their reporting…?’, above.

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

  • Yes

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

  • The people introduced here.
  • ‘Responsible Persons’ on the ACNC Register also has a Janice Smith:
    • Matthew Boutros
    • James Docking
    • Margaret Docking
    • Helen Fernandes
    • Byron Groves
    • Gayle Hill
    • Jame Lewis
    • Leanne Lewis
    • Janice Smith
    • Nicholas Smith
      • If you ‘search the (ACNC) register by responsible person’, you will find that, other than ‘Jame Lewis’ and ‘Janice Smith’, these directors have no more than three other charity directorships.  If, after eliminating the entries that aren’t WCL’s director, more than a handful remain for somebody who is not a full-time director, it would be legitimate for you to question whether that director’s ability to discharge his or her fiduciary responsibilities is threatened.

To whom is WCL accountable?



  1. The law in this area is not straightforward and advice varies, so check with the charity before drawing any conclusions.
  2. For one opinion on the strength of that accountability, see the section Activities in this review.