CHOICE membership

Charities: What percentage do they get of my donation? What do they provide?

How much do recipients get if my donation .Like Save the Children Fund , World Vidion , Snith Family etc .

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Hi Lawrence and welcome to the forum.

Yours is a question many of us ask from time to time. The charity is the only authoritative source of information, and they provide some information to this government web site.

https://www.acnc.gov.au/charity

The numbers get filtered as explained here although they don’t call it filtering.

https://www.acnc.gov.au/for-public/understanding-charities/financial-information-charity-register-0

There has been significant effort to obfuscate how much is paid to for-profit collectors as a general statement.

Also go to the specific charity’s web site and check its annual report for more information.

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Good question and Welcome to the Community.

Each fund and how you donate to the funds affects how much gets to the actual ones you wish to assist. Non-profit doesn’t mean that a Charity uses all or almost all the funds to distribute to the affected. Some of the money in many cases is needed to administer the funds eg for rent, power, banking costs, wages/salaries, insurances and many other costs. Then some may be held for unexpected events and not distributed immediately. Funding that goes through a 3rd party will often have fees deducted from your donation before it even reaches a Charity, sometimes these fees are very substanial and even approach nearly or get to 100% (some 3rd parties take the entire 1st donation or year’s worth of a recurring plan).

If wanting to donate then it is best to donate directly to the organisation than to use a 3rd party sign up business (many of these are door to door or those you see in shopping centres not all though are). If you donate directly you will avoid the stripping of funds by others. Expect that around 25% of funds will be used by the organisations for their costs. If much more than this they are probably being inefficient in handling your money.

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Choice has also covered charity donations in the past…

If I give to a charity, I give directly to the organisation rather than through street hawkers or door knockers. Hawkers and knockers often get part of the monies collected reducing the amount ending up in the charities hands. While charities have costs they need to cover before providing their services, at least giving money directly maximises the money they receive.

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Welcome @Lawrence.

There has been discussion on the forum about similar questions to this. Have a look at Scale of fees charged by Charity Collection Agents, just WOW!.

[To find other topics to do with charities, click on the magnifying glass on the blue bar at the top, and type in what you are looking for, such as ‘charities donations’.]

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There are thousands of Registered Charities in Australia. Some of the larger ones get huge donations by the Commonwealth. Do any of the Senators in Canberra check to see if the charity they are putting money toward acts in a charitable way, as defined by the ACNC?
When a registered charity takes money to which it is not legally entitled, and blocks attempts by clients to recoup monies that clients are legally entitled to recover, it is NOT BEING CHARITABLE.
Maybe I should call Dr Gary Johns from the ACNC.

I merged your topic into this related one that is a bit broader but germane.

Is there something unique about ‘Senators in Canberra’ as compared to the parliamentarians in total?

How would a charity take money to which it is not legally entitled? Was a standing direct debit authorised at any point? Do you have an example or is your concern theoretical?

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When the Charity operates the largest OC (Owners Corporation) in Australia, the waters get muddy. Although Magistrates courts follow the law of precedent, many Civil Affairs Tribunals do not. When the head of the relevant CAT is related to the boss of the OC, favoritism ensues. You cannot have bias in such an arena. The OC gets the red carpet rolled out, their tenants get brick bouquets.

If you do not wish to be more specific would you please indicate the purpose of your posts as no one will be able to offer advice, or solace, or understand the issue you apparently have had.

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I would imagine that any use of funds by the Commonwealth, donation or otherwise, would be potentially subject to scrutiny by the Senate.

Maybe so: https://www.acnc.gov.au/raise-concern since you know what you are talking about but we don’t.

Their web site also observes that

The Minister responsible for the ACNC is The Hon Michael Sukkar MP.

(presumably by virtue of his position as Assistant Treasurer)

so you could possibly contact his office.

Yes. It is often the case that the government of the day does not control the Senate and therefore the Senate is more diligent in scrutinising the operation of the government than the House of Reps is.

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If you can look at the Charity’s, NGO’s or NFP’s full accounts you might get somewhere. However the vast majority of people do not and if they did may not understand all that is going on. In the UK the “consumer champion” equivalent to Choice is called Which? wholly owned by the charity the Consumers’ Association.

It is far bigger than Choice [income £90-100m] and in my opinion a lot less effective and user friendly. It shocked me when I read it’s Accounts and over the fourteen year period up until 2020 it had paid the CEO around £4m , lost a total of £40m in setting up commercial organisations in India and a mortgage broking business in the UK. - both of them being closed down within 3 and 7 years respectively.

The £16m spent on an additional floor and roof garden on the office in central London seems a tough choice on spending. Lately they have been trying to rent out office space as they have a surplus.

I would suggest that allowing businessmen to run a consumer charity is not a good idea and in fact all charities could benefit from proper scrutiny by dedicated people and a robust enforcement regime.

  • £1 approx AUS$2
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A few years ago I was into looking at charity accounts and realised that in Australia they are given significant leeway to obfuscate, and I suspect that is universally true.

I posted a link to the ACNC’s description of their charitable register (post 2 in this topic) and reporting is heavy on income and glib on outgo. One needs to find and digest each charity’s annual reports, some that are easy to find and forthcoming, and others not so much.

I’ll use hypothetical Charity Me as an example. Me was started to help people afflicted with extreme partisanship get detoxed. About 20% of the monies received went to administration (mostly my salary), a ‘switchboard operator’ and the accountant. A further 25% went into fund raising. 50% is attributed to ‘education’ that Me has line itemed - reality is it was printing and distribution of ‘educational materials’ sent to every registered political party member, printed by my printing company and delivered by my family members, all charged to Me at commercial rates.

Untangling those accounts is challenging without an investigative process.

As for CEO salaries, may NGOs and charities ‘process’ hundreds of millions of dollars. Just because they are NGOs or charities does not mean their leadership and staff should work for free (although that would be nice) or for substandard wages.

While £14 million over 14 years might seem like a lot, first it is in £ in an economy based on £ with £ pricing, not in $USD or $AUD, so translating to any foreign currency equivalent is a furphy even though it is common for so many comparisons and international reports. The cost of a Big Mac or the number of hours works for a specified basket of purchases is the only real comparison IMO. Which! is big and regardless of investments or programs they pay a CEO a salary reflecting the organisations size. Whether that CEO does a good, bad, or indifferent job is for the board, and whether the board does its job is for the voting membership.

Who then, well meaning mums and pops who struggle to balance their transaction accounts but have nothing but the best intentions?

Many miss the reality that it takes different mindsets to successfully manage $100 million than it does to manage $100,000 than $10,000 than $100, and most who can do the former well will most often sign on to the highest bidder.

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Some years ago, I read an article regarding Australian charities which listed total ncome, money paid to collectors, operating expenses, and the amount that actually went to the intended recipients.

I think it was an ABC article and it was an absolute eye opener with the worst offenders providing virtually nothing to the nominated causes.

We should have an easy to read, annual listing of these statistics for every charity in Australia so the public can decide who to donate too and not support bottom-feeders.

https://nelsonweekly.co.nz/2013/03/aussie-lawyer-threatens-weekly/

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/breast-cancer-charitys-tactics-under-fire-for-aggressive-fundraising/news-story/727110279fedb68d0a34e320008c8a11

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Government has been loath to do that since ‘every charity is different’ and the bit unsaid, caveat emptor in where your giving goes.

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What charity? I am confused about the subject.

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They are discussing any Charity, NFP. and perhaps NGOs not a particular one with that quoted line. They provide an example ie Which? but it is only that, an example.

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Charity or Not for Profit?

They cover a broad range of objectives and organisations. From handing out food parcels to the hungry, to publishing motoring magazines and selling insurance.

Using ‘Which’ as an example is not about Charities.

It may help the discussion if we can clarify the context. It appears open to confuse discussion with references to issues which are not common ground.

Tax deductibility is applicable for most donations to a registered charity, but not other NFP’s.

There are objectively significant differences in how we might assess the outcomes and operation when comparing a NSW RSL poker machine empire with the work of The Fred Hollows Foundation or Red Cross.

The efficiency of delivery and output per dollar donated to a Charity is very different to the return in lower cost beer at the RSL or savings from being a Choice member.

Are we only discussing registered Charities in this topic?

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I have quoted a specific as I am very well acquainted with it and many countries have consumer bodies doing the same job. I am or have been a member of French, Australian , UK, Indian, and US consumer bodies. I also have had contact with the Dutch Consumentenbond , and read it’s output plus the German test.de, and the Belgium one.

I also have looked at the corporate governance of a few UK charities like the National Trust, National Trust Scotland , and several smaller charities.

To address the parity issue the Big Mac index gives around a 17c difference between the UK and Australia. I recall when the Economist first floated this concept which does have some relevance but fails when you are talking serious income where food cost is a minuscule amount of the whole.

Anyway to charities in general and management, and effectiveness. Looking across the various consumer charities I can say categorically that Which? was not anywhere as effective as three others. The CEO was the highest paid by a considerable margin and in the UK easily the highest paid of the general charities despite it not being the largest.

For instance in one year the 12 man Board of the National Trust were paid the same as four execs of Which?. This despite the NT being massivley larger and more complex to run.

The answer I would suggest is that when you recruit multi-millionnaire businessmen to be chair of the operating arm of a charity they do not have the same view on pay as the membership. In fact out of 600,000 subscribers it got to the stage that around 7,000 might be sent the Accounts though all would vote for the Trustees.

However to go to the broader point that charities obscure matters in the Accounts. That can be true and hats off the the National Trust who have some of the best and most revealing Accounts I have ever seen. Particular strong on the interests of senior staff and all the Trustees so any conflicts of interest could not be hidden.

A trustee buying shares in a friend’s new company that and then getting a six year multi-million contract with the charity is something I have seen. We need to be alert to this sort of thing.

Personally I think that charities should provide more detail and have people provide sureties of say £1000 for the correct running of a charity. Basically their " skin in the game" to actually take a close interest in what goes on. Trustees can be held liable but very rarely are.

Well presented excepting Which? is not a charity so I question why you are comparing it those that are charities or the National Trust, neither that reflect what Which?, or Choice, are?

As for the compensation issue, I do not necessarily disagree that boards and CEOs can be obscenely compensated and they often create their own boys (and girls) clubs to take care of themselves…

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Which? not a charity? Well that rather depends on how you look at it. It is wholly-owned by the the charity the Consumers’ Association Ltd. Which itself is both a charity and a limited company which means it has to provide proper [ish] Accounts and is bound by both Company Law and charitable law.

They split the magazine side off with exactly the same Articles of Association to benefit from a tax change. Regrettably over the years the Trusttees of the charity were distanced from managing Which? Ltd. and its Board was populated by businessmen and executive staff. Having the former European head of the world’s largest FMCG companies as Chair of Which? Ltd and Trustees from Unilever on the charity Board plus former executives who had worked with him at BAA and HMRC argues all the ingredients for group think and not necessarily on consumer issues.

I make the argument : ) correctly! that if you are owned by a charity then you are bound by the requirements of the charity and should not ignore the primary purposes of the charity. Unfortunately the Charity Commission is reactive rather than proactive and the heavy losses over 7 years of £27m breaking into the mortgage-broking market finally caused them to say something about how long charities can fund loss-making ventures.

Given that the charity was losing £1000 per successful mortgage sold it was a pretty lunatic venture but bizarrely one that failed to notice that in the property market there was grave disservice to new home buyers with leases that had doubling of ground rent clauses and other nasties. It took the major building society to announce this publicly not the “consumer champion”.

Basically in the UK I can sell you a house or flat and in the lease you promise to pay me evermore £x until you are required to return the property to me in say 99 years. Some houses/flats were found to be unsaleable as the lease fee doubling was more than the property would be worth such as a GR of £295 in 2008 being nearly £10,000 a year in 2058.

How could a major consumer charity not be aware of something that had been going on for a decade? Why had it not reported on something similar in Scotland nearly a decade earlier that lead to a change in the law in Scotland.? One Trustee of the charity was named in a Scottish newspaper as Chair of a company benefitting from the builders mis-use of the leasehold system.

I have seen the Accounts for Choice only once and I have found it extremely hard to find them again which I dislike. However I do regard Choice as the best by far of the English language charities and love pretty much everything about it. I do try to get the insular British to realise how good a consumer champion can be by suggesting they visit the site.