This is review in the series ‘Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) Members.’ ACFID ‘is the peak body for Australian non government organisations (NGOs) involved in international development and humanitarian action.’ It requires Members to adhere to a Code of Conduct.
The name in the ACFID membership list links to a website where donations are sought from the public. (Note that they are also sought for another charity, ‘YWAM Townsville Assoc. Inc.’ (YWAM Townsville – more on that below.)
COVID-19 response. Nothing since this
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”:
- Check the charity’s name.
- Ask for identification from anyone seeking a donation.
- Be careful of online requests for donations.
- No tax deduction doesn’t mean the charity is not a legitimate one, and
- Find out more about how the charity says it uses donations.
A search on the ACNC Register for ‘YWAM Medical Ships’ gives a charity in the name YWAM Medical Ships – Australia Limited [YWAM MS].
YWAM MS has ‘YWAM Medical Ships’ registered as a business name, along with three others.
There is nothing to indicate that YWAM MS collects donations door-to-door or in public places.
The web address begins with a closed padlock symbol, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above].
However, the security of your information is still not mentioned on the donation page.
YWAM MS’s ABN record (via the ACNC Register) says that a tax deduction is available for a donation to it as an organisation. The donation page says the same.
The record says that a deduction is also available for a donation to a fund run by YWAM MS, YWAM Care Trust Fund. However, it appears the Fund is inactive – it is mentioned neither on the website or in the Financial Report 2021.
Question 5 The use of your donations
From their ‘Summary of activities’ on the ACNC Register:
Share the Gospel?
YWAM MS is a ‘Christian’ organisation, subscribing to the ‘Purpose, Beliefs, & Values’ of the international YWAM movement. Evangelism is central in these. YWAM MD’s ‘Vision & Mission’ page on the website says that the charity is about ‘helping to build healthy lives, communities, and nations’. ‘Religion’ is included in their definition of healthy.
However, there is nothing on the website to suggest that YWAM MS shares the Gospel. This would be consistent with donations being tax deductible.
The use of your donations
How YWAM MS used its donations is in its Financial Report 2021 on the ACNC Register.
In this Report, the directors signed a declaration that
True and fair view
In nearly all cases, compliance with the Australian Accounting Standards will give the required true and fair view.
Paragraph 112 of AASB 101 requires that the notes to the financial statements
We have already seen that YWAM MS collects donations for YWAM Townsville (see the second paragraph above). But there is more to the relationship than this: for instance, the website footer shows that, although the website is badged ‘YWAM Medical Ships,’ it also covers the activities of ‘YWAM Townsville’:
To complement this, on the ACNC Register YWAM Townsville shares the same ‘Address,’ ‘Email,’ and ‘Address for Service email.’ It also has the same President, and four other directors (five out of nine) are also directors of YWAM MS. And the spouse of three of the non-YWAM MS directors are YWAM MS directors. Directors of YWAM MS can control the board decisions of YWAM Townsville.
In the Financial Report (Note 18 (b)), YWAM MS acknowledges that YWAM Townsville is a ‘related party’. However, it fails, contrary to the Standard on related parties, to describe the nature of the relationship, saying that ‘Key management personnel’ are the only related parties (Note 18 (a)).
The evidence points to control of YWAM Townsville by YWAM MS. So, why doesn’t YWAM MS produce consolidated financial statements? Yes, the two charities may be ‘financially and legally autonomous’, but that is not the criterion for consolidation [AASB 12].
Note 18, via part (b) identifies two other related parties of YWAM MS: YWAM PNG Ship Ltd and YWAM City Ventures Ltd. Again, part (a), contrary to the Accounting Standards, does not describe the nature of the relationship.
The relationship with YWAM City Ventures Ltd is so strong that YWAM has committed all its financial resources, present and future, in support of a $16.00 million borrowing by that charity (Note 20):
But YWAM MS is even more than these two charities. Under ‘What we do’ on the website, we learn that there is a ‘YWAM MS group.’ From the ‘Contents’ page (page 3):
- ‘YWAM Medical Ships’
The subject of this review.
Four of its five directors are directors of YWAM MS.
- YWAM Townsville
- See above (YWAM Townsville Assoc. Inc.)
- Five of the nine directors are also directors of YWAM MS. And three others have spouses who are directors of YWAM MS.
- The website footer says that this charity is the Registered Training Organisation (RTO). But elsewhere on the site YWAM MS says that it is the RTO:
- ‘Radio Stations’
- Townsville Christian Broadcasters Assn Inc
- Three of the six directors are also directors of YWAM MS. And one spouse.
- Youth Precinct
Three of the four directors are also directors of YWAM MS, and the fourth is the spouse of a director.
- ‘YWAM Melbourne’
Four of the seven directors are also directors of YWAM MS.
- ‘YWAM Alma Bay’
No such organisation could be found. Not even an ABN.
- ‘YWAM Port Moresby’
A ‘campus’ of YWAM MS:
With this much evidence of one or more parent- subsidiary relationships, YWAM MS, for a true and fair view, needs to address the question of consolidation.
Other issues with the financial reporting
Apart from the non-compliance with the disclosure of related parties, and the unanswered question about reporting as a group (consolidation), the directors made some other reporting decisions that threaten their declaration of a true and fair view:
- $2.52 million paid to three employees (AIS 2021)? This deserves an explanation.
- 66% of the ‘Property, plant and equipment’ included as ‘Plant and equipment’. This does not comply with the requirements of the applicable Accounting Standard.
- The ship they use is in the books at less than is owed on it. Is that the correct position?
- They still don’t disclose the audit fee. Is it paid by another YWAM?
- The new Accounting Standard on revenue is not mentioned.
- Insurance refund is not accounted for correctly.
- Gifted goods are still accounted for incorrectly.
How the revenue was used
If you are still prepared to do business with YWAM MS, here are the expenses $100K or over (in a total of $6.15 million): (i.e., accrual figures, with last year in the second column):
Employee benefits expense 2.52 million $2.47 million Repairs and maintenance 1.53 million 273K
Depreciation and amortisation 682K 249K
Sundry expenses 340K 125K
Donation and in-kind expenses 346K 202K
Travel and food costs 223K 113K
Finance expenses 152K 64K
Although these items, other than the first, show a significant increase over last year, no explanations are given.
The people responsible for the situation and the reporting
The ACNC Register shows that the board is unchanged from two years ago, so these are the people, from the ACNC Register, responsible for the Financial Report.
Anna Scott (a YWAM MS manager)
Jared Hoover (a YWAM manger)
Jennifer Rentsch (a YWAM manager)
Jeremy Schierer (a YWAM MS staff member)
Kenneth Mulligan (the YWAM MS managing director)
Melissa Kauk (a YWAM MS manager)
Nathan Randell (a YWAM staff member)
Rebekah Hoover (director of a YYAAM MS group company
With only one of the eight directors not working for either YWAM MS or YWAM Townsville, and that one working for a YWAM MS group company, there is almost no accountability on the YWAM MS executives.
With only 17 members at 31 December 2019 [Notes to the Financial Statements], and the eight directors above required to be members, the accountability possible by the membership is limited.
The accountability exerted by the AICD and Missions Interlink is limited.
Commitment 8.3 of the ACFID Code of Conduct requires YWAM MS to include in its annual report ‘A description of the most significant aid and development activities undertaken during the reporting period and their impact’. The ACFID gives this example:
“We drilled 20 wells which improved the lives of 1000 people in the region by providing access to clean drinking water. In turn, this lowered the incidence of water borne diseases by 50% and reduced the infant mortality rate by 75%.”
This matches the description of impact in the link in the heading above.
YWAM MS does use the word impact in this sense anywhere in its Annual Report. There do record their activities for each program. Here’s an example:
Good works, but not quite what is meant by impact.
The same Code of Conduct Commitment requires IJM Australia to include ‘information about evaluations’ in its annual report.
There is one incidental mention of evaluation in the Annual Report.
Nothing systematic found on the website for impact. A 2018 evaluation was the only mention of evaluation.
YWAM MS welcomes feedback:
We sent them a draft of this review. They…did not respond. We sent them an updated draft (after discovering that we had omitted their annual report). Again, they did not respond.
- See here for our last review. ↑
- A section in the article, Donating and Volunteering:
- 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?
- ‘When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett says this about sharing the Gospel: ‘A host of contextual issues determine the best manner and the appropriate time to present the gospel verbally, particularly in militant Muslim or Hindu settings. But without such a presentation, it is not possible for people to be personally transformed in all their relationships, which is what poverty alleviation is all about [Kindle Locations 1262-1264, Moody Publishers]. ↑
- Back page of the promotional brochure ‘What we do’. ↑
- However, the relationship could be the other way round: In its ACNC Register entry at the time of our last review, ‘YWAM Townsville’ says that its (training) client YWAM MS, is one of its departments. ↑
- Another member of the YWAM MS group, Townsville Christian Broadcasters Assn Inc also claims that YWAM MS is the RTO/ ↑
- The AICFD’s Code of Conduct requires them to respond. ↑