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2018 a top year for charities

27 May 2020 at 9:14 am
Maggie Coggan
The charities commission has released the latest data on Australian charities  

Maggie Coggan | 27 May 2020 at 9:14 am


2018 a top year for charities
27 May 2020 at 9:14 am

The charities commission has released the latest data on Australian charities  

The head of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission says charities were in a “strong position” heading into this year’s crisis, with new data revealing charity revenue grew by 6.4 per cent in 2018.

While the growth of the Australian economy in the 2018-19 financial year, as measured by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, was 1.9 per cent, the charities sector generated more than $155 billion in revenue, an increase of more than $9 billion from the previous year. 

The Australian Charities Report 2018 found that almost half of charity revenue came from government (47 per cent), while over a third was generated by providing goods and services (34 per cent). Just 6.8 per cent of charity revenue came from donations.   

The increase in revenue was driven by the largest charities, with those with revenues between $10 million and $100 million generating an additional $2.3 billion and extra large charities (revenue more than $100 million) generating $6.6 billion more revenue than the previous year

The ACNC commissioner, the Hon Gary Johns, said the data showed the sector was in a strong position leading into this year’s current crisis.  

“Many charities had reserves and investments as well as diversified sources of revenue to support their financial viability,” Johns said. 

The report, publicly released by the ACNC on Wednesday, analysed the financial reports of 48,000 charities covering the income and expenses of charities, what they do, who they help, and where they operate.  

Most charities were small (66 per cent) generating less than $250,000 in revenue, with large charities with revenue of over $1 million making up 18 per cent, and medium charities with revenue between $250,000 and $1 million accounting for 16 per cent.  

Overall, charities in 2018 operated in a surplus, predominantly supported by substantial assets that increased by $18.7 billion in 2017 to $323 billion the following year. 

But Johns told Pro Bono News that “only time would tell” how badly the sector had been affected by the economic fallout of coronavirus, which has so far wreaked havoc amongst charities. 

“We can’t do other than work off something that’s now 18 months out of date,” he said. 

“Clearly, charities who at the moment rely solely on events to raise funds are going to find it difficult because those events can’t take place. Others though with government contracts and grants, or where they have a steady stream of income from donors on a monthly basis, will not be as badly affected… it’s a mixed bag.” 

The rise of giving, volunteering and expenses 

The report found that giving levels grew to $10.5 billion in 2018, an increase of $600 million from the previous year. 

But with giving levels expected to fall by around 20 per cent because of coronavirus, the outlook for next year’s report might be quite different. 

The charity sector also reported spending over $81 billion on employee expenses, and approximately $7 billion on providing grants and donations in the 2018 reporting year. Both figures have increased from 2017, when employee expenses sat at $75 billion and $6.3 billion was spent on grants and donations. 

Volunteering numbers also increased to 3.7 million, up 12 per cent on the previous year’s number of 3.3 million, while half of all charities operated without any paid staff. 

Johns deflects 2017 criticism 

Sector leaders last year criticised the significantly shorter report, describing it as a “superficial overview” of the 47,000 Annual Information Statements submitted by charities. 

This year’s report did not increase in size, but Johns said that quality was the most important factor of the report.   

“This year’s report spends a lot of time breaking down into the various charitable subdivisions… So you’re getting a lot more detail in this report than previously,” he said. 

“We’re trying to place on the record some interesting insights that arise from the information and not solely focus on the geography of the sector.” 

Read the full report here. 

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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