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Regulator Finds Australians Giving More to a Growing Charity Sector

14 December 2016 at 9:26 am
Lina Caneva
A landmark report by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has revealed that Australians gave $11.2 billion to charity last year, nearly 2.5 per cent more than the previous year.

Lina Caneva | 14 December 2016 at 9:26 am


Regulator Finds Australians Giving More to a Growing Charity Sector
14 December 2016 at 9:26 am

A landmark report by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has revealed that Australians gave $11.2 billion to charity last year, nearly 2.5 per cent more than the previous year.

ACNC commissioner Susan Pascoe AM said the Australian Charities Report 2015 would challenge people’s perception of the charity sector.

“This new report shows that Australia’s charity sector is huge and appears to be growing, both in terms of its geographic spread, and its share of the Australian economy,” Pascoe said at the launch in Sydney on Wednesday.

“The charity sector in Australia has now grown by a further 2 per cent and has annual turnover of $134.5 billion.

“When comparing charities with the rest of the economy, we found that the total income of the charity sector is equivalent to 8.3 per cent of Australia’s GDP.

“The charity sector also has total assets of more than $267 billion.

“Thanks to the new Charities Report, we now know the sector is one of our largest employers, accounting for approximately 10 per cent of Australia’s total workforce.

“Over 1.2 million Australians are employed by a registered charity, meaning the sector is second only to the retail industry,” Pascoe said.

ACNC 2015 report 1

The annual Australian Charities Report, the third by the charity regulator, assessed the income, assets, expenses, and activities of Australia’s registered charities as well as their sustainability.

The report found that 55 per cent of charities’ income grew, 42 per cent shrank and 3 per cent stayed the same.

ACNC 2015 report 2

“According to the latest World Giving Index, Australia is the third most charitable country in the world,” Pascoe said.

“This is supported by the new Australian Charities Report, which found that Australians donated $11.2 billion to charity – 2.4 per cent more than the year prior.

“Additionally, we found that nearly three million Australians volunteered for a registered charity.”

The report found that charities drew on the volunteer efforts of 2.97 million people over the year. On average, each charity had 63.4 volunteers, although this differed by sector. The highest total number of volunteers were in the sectors of religion (681,574 volunteers in total), social services (598,139) and health (406,540).

The highest average numbers of volunteers were in the sectors of environment, social services and international (which each had an average of over 100). However, the median number of volunteers was highest in religion and culture and recreation, and lowest for philanthropic intermediaries, and development and housing.

The ACNC conceded that its volunteer figures were much lower than the 5.8 million people that stated they participated in voluntary work as part of the ABS 2014 General Social Survey saying the difference was likely due to the fact that not all voluntary work was for charities.

ACNC Advisory Board chair and UNICEF Australia CEO Tony Stuart said the report would contribute to the community’s understanding of the sector.

“For the first time we are able to identify and track changes in the combined financial situation of Australia’s charity sector,” Stuart said.

“This is an invaluable resource for policy makers, academics, and charities themselves.

“The Australian Charities Report 2015 clearly shows that this is an economically significant sector that provides vital services to our community. For example, the combined income of the charity sector is larger than the energy, water and waste industry, and the total value of the services charities provide exceeds $120 billion annually.

“We are now able to measure changes in the sector over time. Prior to the establishment of the ACNC in December 2012, this simply was not possible.”

The Australian Charities Report 2015 was produced in partnership by the ACNC and the Centre for Social Impact at the University of New South Wales.

Centre for Social Impact CEO Dr Andrew Young said that the 2015 report was the most comprehensive record to date of the Australian charity sector.

“For the first time the report calculates the size and shape of the whole of the sector with over 51,000 individual charities included,” Young said.

“We are now able to start to understand change over time and explore indicators of financial sustainability.

“As we look to the future, this data is, and will increasingly be, crucial to our understanding of the evolution of the charity sector in the context of significant current and future reforms – for example in ageing, health care, disability and other fields of social services.”
ACNC 2015 report 4 charity tick

Pascoe also showcased the new Registered Charity Tick – a new logo to help donors identify charities registered with, and regulated by, the ACNC.

“Registered charities are transparent, accountable, and must meet the ACNC’s governance standards and reporting requirements,” Pascoe said.

“This year we are helping donors identify registered charities, those that are under the watch of the ACNC, by providing them with the new Registered Charity Tick to use on their websites and fundraising tins and brochures.

“In under two weeks 2,500 charities have already signed up to use it, including UNICEF Australia, CANTEEN, Cancer Council Australia, Youth off the Streets, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and of course, Mission Australia.”

The full Australian Charities Report 2015 and interactive data cube can be found here.

More information about the new Registered Charity Tick is available here.


Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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