This is a review in the series ‘Members of Missions Interlink’, Missions Interlink being ‘the Australian network for global mission’ (and a means for a Member to get income tax exemption when it might not otherwise be available). Members must sign up to a set of standards, and this, at least on paper, makes them a better bet for your donations (or other involvement).
The website linked from the Missions Interlink membership goes to a website in the same name. Here they seek online donations.
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 Perth’ gives no result. Expanding ‘YWAM’ to ‘Youth With a Mission’ gives a registered charity (YWAMP).
- And shows another charity, one that is controlled by YWAMP: Youth With a Mission (Perth) Incorporated as the Operator of a PBI.
- There is no mention of the PBI (public benevolent institution) on the website.
- YWAMP is still contravening the law in not having the name it is using, ‘YWAM Perth’, registered as a business name.
- YWAMP says that it operates interstate, in NSW. It does not have the required registration (an ARBN) for this.
- [Added 3 May 2021] YWAMP is responsible for the unregistered entity ‘YWAM Broome‘.
There is nothing to indicate that YWAMP uses either door-to-door or street collectors.
The (Edge browser) “web address begins with ‘https’ and there is a closed padlock symbol next to the web address in the address bar”, so the website is secure [the ACNC article above].
- There is no information about the security of your information credit card and other information on the first page of the ‘Donate’ page.
The Australian Business Register (linked from YWAMP’s ACNC Register record), says that YWAMP is entitled to receive tax deductible gifts, both as an organisation and as the operator of a fund, Youth With A Mission Western (Perth) Inc School Building and Maintenance Fund.
- How does this fit with them being an organisation that sends missionaries?
- There is no mention of this tax deduction on the website.
Sharing the Gospel
The audited account of how YWAMP uses donations is the Financial Report on the ACNC Register.
The directors signed a declaration [Directors’ Declaration, Financial Report 2019] that
For this to be true the financial statements had to comply, at a minimum, with the Australian Accounting Standards (AASs) [www.aasb.gov.au]. In turn, this means that the directors must present you with sufficient information to understand the full situation and performance of YWAMP.
But there are material deviations from these Standards, calling the declaration into question:
- For a charity operating interstate and in over 50 other countries, with 300 volunteers, and a turnover of $7.03 million, the directors’ suggestion that any stakeholder can request a financial report tailored to their needs is ludicrous. choice of the lower standard special purpose financial statements is incorrect.
- They use an outdated format for their income statement (and consequently omit
- They do not comment on the material deficiency in internal controls identified by the auditor.
- They do not depreciate their buildings.
- They disclose 35% of the expenses in one item that is not explained, ‘Outreach Expenses’. (The other expenses are classified by their nature.)
- There is insufficient explanation of
- $285K sales of ‘books’
- $178K ‘Speakers Expense’
- $390K ‘Loss on Assets Written Off’
- ‘Past Debtors’
Who was responsible?
We are not told who was on the board when the accounts were approved, but these are the current directors:
The directors are responsible to the membership of the association. However, this appears to be restricted to staff of the organisation, and are therefore people who are supervised by the leaders (who are on the Committee).
YWAMP is an organisation that is part of a movement where
- periodically there are credible reports of abuse of students
- there is a lack of accountability
- members are unwilling to submit to independent scrutiny of their information.
How YWAM uses its revenue
If you are still willing to trust the accounts, here’s the expenses that were over $200K (in a total of $6.45 million):
Outreach Expenses $2.28 million
Rent $1.07 million
Loss on Assets Written Off $390K
Interest Paid $332K
Food & Household Products $230K
Nothing systematic on impact found.
YWAMP don’t invite feedback, but do imply that they might get it.
The introduction to the Mission Interlink standards (see above) includes this statement:
We sent them a draft of this review. This was their response:
YWAM Perth is committed to the standards of the ACNC, and we will include your feedback when we review our financial record keeping processes in our yearly review with our auditor.
- See here for the previous review. ↑
- https://missionsinterlink.org.au/abou ↑
- 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]. ↑
- This is the implication of their choice of special purpose financial statements rather than the type that is designed for those who are dependent on a regulator to get the information they need. ↑
- The constitution, ACNC Register. ↑
- The ACNC has previously – the Fact Sheet is no longer on the site – explained impact this way: “Every charity has a mission that is associated with producing a public benefit. As this mission is pursued, the changes produced in individuals and their communities can be referred to as the charity’s ‘impact.’ If you are donating to a charity, you may wish to make sure that your donation is creating the greatest impact possible.’ There is no reason why this wouldn’t still be their view. ↑