There’s Cause for Celebration and Concern in How Australians are Giving to Charity – The Conversation

Extract from an article by Wendy Scaife, Associate Professor and Director, Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, Queensland University of Technology & Christopher Baker, Research Fellow, Asia-Pacific Centre for Social Investment and Philanthropy, Swinburne University of Technology

Australians are a famously giving people, but what are some of the issues surrounding charities in this country? You can see our infographic snapshot here, and follow our series Charities in Australia here.


Some 80.8% of adult Australians – 14.9 million of us – contributed financially to charities and non-profit organisations in 2015-16. At A$12.5 billion, total giving was well up from $4.7 billion a decade ago. The average donation of $764.08 was up too in real terms, by $210.16.

However, the percentage of people donating dipped from 87% over the same period. Annual data on tax-deductible donations tells a similar story, underlining the concern about a flatlining future for Australian charities if fewer people donate.

Trends emerging from the Giving Australia 2016 study, previewed last December, are cause for both celebration and concern.

Volunteers giving more

Some Australians are doubly generous, giving their time and their dollars. This link between volunteering and donating was clear in the Giving Australia research.

Those who both gave and volunteered donated nearly twice as much on average as givers who did not volunteer ($1,017.11 compared to $536.69).

An estimated 43.7% of Australians volunteered an average of 2.5 hours a week, and a median of 55 hours over the year. This was up from 44 hours in 2005.

Virtual volunteering is on the rise. Approximately half of all charities had a volunteer program offering virtual opportunities – with nearly two-thirds of this via mobile phone.

Larger businesses giving more

In 2015-16, businesses gave a total of $17.5 billion. This was made up of:

  • $7.7 billion in community business partnerships (80% from large businesses);
  • $6.2 billion in donations; and
  • $3.6 billion in (non-commercial) sponsorships.

Even though they make up just 0.2% of Australian businesses, larger businesses were more likely to give, and in greater amounts. They now commonly report seeing their contribution to their surrounding communities as an ethical obligation.

‘Planner donors’ giving more

Some people give on the spur of the moment. This applies to roughly 60% of donors.

Others consider, plan and deliberate about their giving. Some sign up to give in a sustained way month by month. Others might sit with their children and plan what donations they will make as a family in the year ahead.

On average, these “planner donors” donate six times as much in a year as the impulse donor.

SOURCE:  Scaife, Wendy and Baker, Christopher. “There’s Cause for Celebration and Concern in How Australians are Giving to Charity.” The Conversation, 14 March 2017

Link to website

See also: Infographic: a snapshot of charities and giving in Australia

BroCAP is produced by the two librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia.

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