Giving bounce back provides hope for charities in 2022
31 January 2022 at 4:34 pm
The second annual JBWere NAB Charitable Giving Index offers good signs for the sector
Experts believe charitable giving in Australia could bounce back to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, with new research showing there has been a significant revival in giving levels.
The latest NAB Charitable Giving Index from JBWere looked at how the giving landscape has shifted from the early stages of the COVID crisis to now.
Using NAB transaction data, researchers found that while there was a dramatic fall in giving in 2019/20 and 2020/21, there has been significant recovery since around December 2020.
John McLeod, the co-founder of JBWere’s Philanthropic Services, noted that the previous giving index had shown this unprecedented decline was caused mainly by COVID and the inability to hold fundraising events.
But he said the latest data suggested giving could go back to previous record levels for 2021/22.
“It’s fantastic to see that giving is back on the rise with the recovery seen throughout 2021 expected to continue through the new year,” McLeod said.
“The recovery seen to date suggests that totals in 2022 should again reach the previous high seen in 2019.”
McLeod told Pro Bono News that history has shown giving levels traditionally bounce back quickly after big events, such as with the global financial crisis.
He said the bounce back this time was partly due to charities and donors adjusting to the COVID landscape with fewer in-person events and fundraisers.
“Donors still cared about the causes that they’ve always supported. But when an event isn’t on, then it’s fairly easy with everything else going on during COVID to do nothing,” he said.
“And I think as time has gone by, people have said, ‘Oh, look, that cause is still there. In fact, there’s [more need] then ever.’ So even though the event’s not on, they want to do something about it.
“It just took a bit of time for both the charities to adjust and for the donors to adjust. But now we’re seeing that coming back.”
He said another reason for the giving recovery was the fact that many larger donors and wealthier families have not been deeply affected financially by COVID.
This meant their ability to give didn’t particularly diminish, but they just needed time to adjust to a different way of giving.
But while this is encouraging, there still remains a longstanding issue affecting Australian giving – namely that rising giving levels are coming from a smaller proportion of people doing more, rather than from a broader base of donors.
McLeod said the sector needed to attract the mass market and arrest the decline in the proportion of people giving.
But he noted the need for charities and for-purpose organisations has been highlighted more during COVID.
This, McLeod said, would potentially encourage more of the public to donate by making people recognise the broad support the sector gives them.
“COVID has perhaps helped reawaken that understanding of why people’s lives are improved by having a good, sustainable for purpose sector,” he said.
“So, maybe in a perverse way, COVID will help arrest a little bit of the decline in the proportion of people giving.
“But to me, that’s still the biggest problem there. The level of giving from people overall is pretty good. It’s just the number of donors.”
You can see the full report here.