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World Outreach Ltd: mini charity review

The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has since been superseded.  Please start with the updated review published in May 2018, and come back to this one as needed.

Mini charity review of World Outreach Ltd (WO) as an organisation that seeks donations (via the website of the international organisation, World Outreach International[1]), and is exempt from Australian income tax via its membership of Missions Interlink. (Including the answers to the questions that the Australian charity regulator, the ACNC, suggests that you ask.)

For the previous review, see here.

Is it responsive to feedback?

  • I sent them a draft of this review on 28 August 2017. Like last year, they…did not respond.

Is WO registered?

  • As a charity, yes.
  • WO is a public company, a company limited by guarantee. (Not, as it still says on the ABN record, an ‘Other Incorporated Entity’.)
    • It does not have the provisions in its constitution to allow it to omit ‘Limited/Ltd’ at the end of its name.
  • WO Group operates, per the ACNC Register, in New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia. This matches the information given by WO and WO PBI.
    • WO has a fundraising licence in Queensland (its home state), but not in the other three that have a licensing regime.
    • Because it seeks donations on the internet, the need for a licence in the three states in which it doesn’t operate and that have a licensing regime depends on whether they deem such a request to be ‘fundraising’.
  • PID
    • is unincorporated, and not registered for GST.
    • has no current trust deed on the ACNC Register, but because of the make-up of its board, it is likely that WO is the trustee.
    • does not have a fundraising licence in its home state, Victoria.

What do they do?

  • There is no clear description anywhere of what WO Group does:
    • No website – and no description of WO Group’s activities on the website of World Outreach International.
    • The AIS 2016 for the Group says that
      • Our purpose is to reach least reached people groups with the gospel of Jesus Christ and we do this through Humanitarian aid, Micro Enterprise (sic), Prison Work (sic), Support (sic) and aid to Orphans (sic), Leadership (sic), mentoring and Training (sic) of Pastors and Church Workers (sic). Working in Community groups (sic) to help in development of the community.
        • The only evidence on the ACNC Register that this is a description of what WO, as opposed to World Outreach International, does, is the disclosure, in the AIS 2016, that they gave grants and donations of $49K within Australia. Over five times as much was sent overseas.
    • The Directors’ Report (in the Financial Report 2016) is unhelpful:
      • The principal activities of the company during the financial year were that of a charitable organisation. (There are more than 54,000 such organisations in Australia.)
  • WO operates, per the ACNC Register, in 12 countries overseas, WO PBI in none. This doesn’t tally with the WO Group’s listing of only nine countries.
  • For PID:
    • There is only one incidental reference to it on the World Outreach International website.
    • This was the description in the AIS 2016 of what it did that year:
      • Educational opportunities for poor or underprivileged children and women. Accommodation for poor children from remote areas so they can attend school.
    • It operates, per the ACNC Register, in Burkina Faso and Malaysia.

Do they share the Gospel [2]?

  • From the objects in the WO constitution they should do:
    • (a) to propagate the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ through all available means throughout Australia and the rest of the world

(b) to send missionaries and to employ national workers in different countries where the companies (sic) mission work operates or will operate….

  • But what is the effect of operating a fund (WO PBI) that gives donors a tax deduction?
    • The Financial Report 2016 does not disclose the proportion of donations that were tax deductible.

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?

  • WO Group: If we define ‘direct’ as grants and donations made – and this ignores the fact that not all that money would go to or be spent on beneficiaries – then ‘administration’, from the audited statement, is 100% expenses. But from the AIS 2016, it is 32%. The reconciliation is in the additional (unaudited) statement that shows that $314K for ‘designations’ was deducted before reporting the revenue figure.
  • PID: The same calculation for PID gives 8%.

Do they pay their directors?

  • WO Group: There is no prohibition in the constitution, but there’s nothing the two income statements to suggest that they do.
  • PID: There is insufficient disclosure to say.

Can you get a tax deduction?

  • Only if you give to
  • On a page linked from ‘The Blessing Centre’, this is the entry for Australia:
    • World Outreach Australia Limited has DGR (deductible gift recipient) status for gifts to Public Benevolent Funds within Australia. We operate certain Benevolent Funds which are claimable for tax rebates. Any donations designated to Benevolent Fund Where Most Needed will be tax deductible. Contact our Australian Office for details of specific missionaries or projects which relate to any Australian Benevolent Fund projects. We also give tax claimable receipts for donations to the Fulani people project in Burkina Faso.
      • There is only one ‘Public Benevolent Fund’.
      • Burkina Faso is one the two countries in which PID works.

Is their online giving secure?

  • The first page of ‘Make a Donation’ in ‘The Blessing Centre’ doesn’t mention security.
  • The page for Australian dollars says that eWay is used.

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

  • On the first page (‘The Blessing Centre’), in US dollars:
    • ‘Bless a WOI missionary’
      • ‘A General Donation’
      • 11 missionary individuals or couples
        • Alphabetical, only up to Bonkoungo.
    • ‘Bless a project’
      • 12 projects
        • Alphabetical, only up to New Hope Boarding Home.
    • ‘Tools for missionaries’
      • ‘A General Donation’
      • 9 tools
    • ‘Empower a leader’
      • ‘A General Donation’
      • 9 options
    • ‘Empower the poor’
      • ‘A General Donation’
      • 9 options
    • ‘Empower a woman’
      • ‘A General Donation’
      • 9 options
    • ‘Empower a child’
      • ‘A General Donation’
      • 6 options
    • ‘Aid & development’
      • ‘A General Donation’
      • 7 options
        • Alphabetical, only up to Syrian Refugee Crisis Appeal.
    • ‘Raising leaders’
      • Leads to ‘Empower a leader’, above.
    • ‘Evangelism & church planting’
      • Leads to ‘The Blessing Centre’ (see above)
    • ‘Mobilisation’
      • No giving option
    • ‘Children’
      • Leads to ‘Empower a child’, above.
    • ‘Aid’
      • Leads to ‘Aid & development’, above.
    • ‘Our People’
      • Leads to, after selecting ‘Australasia’, sixteen names.
  • On the donation form that comes from this link: You can also choose to pay in Australian Dollars via eWAY…’, there is a place for you to write the name of ‘the person or project’.
  • PID is not mentioned, but presumably it is included in the above options somewhere.

Where were the (net) donations sent?

  • WO Group: this is not disclosed.
  • Only two of the 14 countries in which WO Group operates have a World Outreach International office. Apart from the World Outreach International office, there are another six ‘country offices’.
  • PID: To Global Development Group, a secular aid and development charity. The projects are not disclosed.

Is their reporting up-to-date?

  • Yes. (Both WO and PID submitted seven months after their year-end, WO being a month overdue).
    • 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 14 months ago.

Does their reporting comply with the regulator’s requirements?

  • AIS 2016:
    • WO Group: No
      • None of the figures match those in the financial statements.
      • No outcomes are reported.
    • PID: Yes
      • There are no outcomes given.
      • (‘Website’ is blank, but this information is not compulsory.)
  • Financial Report 2016: No
    • WO Group:
      • There is no mention of the fact that the statements cover two charities, not one.
      • A charity within the group, PID, has been, without explanation, omitted from the Report.
      • Due to the omission of ‘designations’ (grants made), revenue is over three times larger than the amount reported.
      • There is no ‘Other comprehensive income’ section.
        • And consequently, no comprehensive income in the Statement of Changes in Equity.
      • The Statement of Profit or Loss and Other Comprehensive Income incorrectly includes opening retained earnings, and incorrectly describes closing retained earnings as ‘Profit’.
      • The decision to say that there are no users, either present or prospective, who are dependent on general purpose financial statements is, given WO’s reach and donation income, questionable.
      • An unexplained, and unaudited, extra income statement is included.
      • The absence of plant and equipment (furniture and computers for instance) is unexplained.
      • The wrong Act of Parliament is referenced by both the directors and the auditor.
      • Why are trust monies classified as borrowings?
      • 37% of the liabilities are the unexplained ‘Other liabilities’.
      • There is no related parties disclosure (an ACNC expectation).
    • PID: Yes – but only because the ACNC does not require a Financial Report, and if one is submitted, as in this case, it does not have to comply with their requirements.

What financial situation was shown by that Report?

  • WO Group:
    • Last year’s small surplus became a small deficit this year.
    • Short term structure: short-term (current) liabilities exceed short-term (current) assets by only 23%.
    • 63% of total liabilities are represented by borrowings from related parties, related parties that are not disclosed in the accounts.
    • Neither long-term assets or long-term liabilities are held.
  • PID:
    • A very small surplus last year became a slightly larger surplus this year.
    • Cash is the only asset, and there are no liabilities.

What did the auditor say about the last financial statements?

  • WO Group:
  • PID:
    • Same audit, same result, as for WO Group (above).

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

  • WO Group: Yes
  • WO: No
    • There is no date for the ‘Governing Document’.
    • (‘Website’ is blank, but this information is not compulsory.)
  • ‘As the operator of a PBI’: No
    • ‘Operates in (Countries)’ is blank.
    • (‘Website’ is blank, but this information is not compulsory.)
  • PID: No
    • The ‘Governing Document’ is only an amendment to the Trust Deed.
    • ‘Operating (States)’ is blank.
    • The address for ‘Email’ is incorrect.
    • Why is PID not part of the WO reporting group?
    • (‘Website’ is blank, but this information is not compulsory.)

Who are the people controlling the organisation?

To whom are they accountable?

  • WO Group:
    • Accountable to the ACNC.
  • WO:
    • Not mentioned on the website, but WO is a member of Missions Interlink.
      • For one opinion of the strength of that accountability, see the section Activities in this review.
    • Also accountable to the ACNC.
    • And, as a company, to ASIC.
  • WO PBI:
    • Accountable to the ACNC.
  • PID:
    • Accountable to the ACNC.

 

 

  1. Also via its controlled trust, Partners in Development Trust Fund.
  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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