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Australians & Giving - Roy Morgan Research

14 August 2002 at 1:08 pm
Staff Reporter
Australians are wary about charity – both here and overseas. More than two-thirds of Australians believe charity money does not get to the people who need it and only 10 percent agree with an increase in Government foreign aid.

Staff Reporter | 14 August 2002 at 1:08 pm


Australians & Giving - Roy Morgan Research
14 August 2002 at 1:08 pm

Australians are wary about charity – both here and overseas. More than two-thirds of Australians believe charity money does not get to the people who need it and only 10 percent agree with an increase in Government foreign aid.

This hard-hitting statement comes straight from the latest Roy Morgan International research.

Chief Executive of Roy Morgan Research Pty Ltd, Michele Levine delivered the statistics to a recent FIA gathering titled Australians and Giving.

The research also shows that a majority of Australians believe it is the Government’s duty to support those who can’t find work. However, only one in four Australians believe a percentage of everyone’s income should go to charities.

Levine says this is related to income, with as many as 1-in-3 Australians with income of $80,000 or more supporting the notion of a percentage of income going to charity.

By comparison 24% of Americans and 17% of people in the UK and New Zealand believe a percentage of everyone’s income should go to charities.

Interestingly Levine says the relationship with income is most marked in the US with support ranging from less than 20% among Americans in lower income groups and more than 40% among those in higher income groups.

Levine says that in any discussion about charity or giving, the conversation invariably turns to a comparison between Australia and America.

Her presentation was offered some interesting insights into the “us and them” concept.
For example Levine said did you know that…
More Americans watch Australian Rules Football than do Australians. Almost 8 million Americans (7,880,000) watch Australian Rules Football at least occasionally on television. This means Australian Rules Football is viewed by more Americans than Australians (5,328,000). More Democrats than Republicans watch Australian Rules, and yes, they are more likely to drink Foster’s.

Levine says some things are the same the world over – the trick is to know which ones.
But on a serious note she asked why is Bill Gates one of the wealthiest and arguably the most powerful man in the world when Professor Carl Wood and Professor Alan Trounson, who created life (Invitro Fertilisation), are for the most part unknown Australian scientists; and Fred Hollows, who restored sight to so many, a hero only in relatively narrow circles?

She says the answer has nothing to do with the often quoted Australian excuse of the tyranny of distance, or with excessive minimum wages in this country, or with taxation, immigration, or any of the other usually cited excuses.

Levine says the answer has more to do with Australia’s poor performance in marketing and commercialisation, communications and public relations. This is rooted partly in a lack of vision, and partly a lack of confidence to have a vision, articulate it, and then single-mindedly focus on achieving it.

But back to that opening statement that Australians are wary about charity.

According to a study on world issues and charities from Roy Morgan Single Source, 68 percent of Australians, aged 14 and over, agreed with the statement that:
“The trouble with giving to charity is that the money doesn’t get to people who need it.”
Only 14 percent disagreed.

More Australians agreed (38%) than disagreed (36%).with the statement that:
“There’s nothing I can do to help people who can’t work out how to help themselves”

The study also found the majority of Australians (75%) agreed that :
“Some Third World countries will always be poor because of war and corruption.”

And when it comes to raising living standards among the world’s poorest people:
 47% of Australians were of the view that everyday people can help to raise living standards;
 32% believe they can’t do much, there will always be poor people;
 18% believed individuals can’t do anything – it’s up to Governments.

In terms of giving money to charities for overseas aid :
 33% see this as providing short term benefits for a few local communities;
 27% believe it provides long term benefits for a few local communities;
 22% believe it doesn’t help much at all;
 Only 15% see long-term benefits for a whole country.

When it comes to responsibility for helping the world’s poorest people, Australians are divided:
 36% believe that they have a responsibility to do what they can;
 30% did not believe it was their responsibility but still felt that they should make regular contributions;
 29% believe their duty to help only extends as far as our shores, choosing the response “My responsibility is just to other Australians”.

When asked what can we do to help the very poor people around the world:
 One-in-two Australians chose the option “To help provide tools and training to help people find solutions to their problems”;
 22% chose “helping children with vaccinations and education”;
 13 % said “give when most needed during war or natural disaster”; and
 10 % said our “Federal Government should give more in foreign aid”.

Levine says the research shows the world, or at least the developed world, has entered a new era. This new era is one which will be defined by globalisation, technology and communication, elimination of traditional boundaries, and a strategic focus on the global market place.

Levine concludes that people are people, and the choices they make will stem from their values. People will continue to choose between spending money on sending their children to private schools, going on holiday, renovating or upgrading their house, buying clothes, shoes, or cars. They will make choices about doing something for society, or for their family, or for themselves. They will choose their relationships with brands, organisations, communities and people.

She says in order to encourage philanthropy, charity and giving, it is essential to understand those values to tap into them, and create opportunities to give, that resonate with those values, and create relationships that enhance the link between the values and giving.

If you would like a copy of Michele Levine’s Paper: Australians & Giving as delivered to the FIA just send us an e-mail to

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