Labor promises to double giving, answering Philanthropy Australia’s call
11 April 2022 at 1:56 pm
Australia’s rates of philanthropic giving are low compared to some of our closest neighbours, but the federal opposition has promised to change that if it forms government later this year.
Labor has pledged to double philanthropic giving by 2030, should it win the upcoming federal election.
The announcement brings the opposition’s policy into line with Philanthropy Australia’s National Action Plan, which sets out how to double giving to charities by the start of the next decade.
To achieve the aim, Labor would direct Treasury to set out a strategic direction for philanthropy in collaboration with the for-purpose, business and philanthropic sectors.
Speaking to Pro Bono News, Dr Andrew Leigh, shadow assistant minister for treasury and charities, called the National Action Plan “ambitious but achievable”.
Leigh’s announcement picks up some of the key threads running through the National Action Plan, including creating a national campaign to encourage people to give to charity, and a plan to “fix fundraising”.
The campaign would be designed in partnership with the charitable sector, he said.
“It would recognise that giving back isn’t just important to create a fairer society, but that the act of giving is one that has been shown to bring a lot of pleasure to donors themselves,” Leigh said.
“I think we haven’t prioritised a national culture of giving. The fact is, our charitable fundraising laws were written in a pre-internet era when going online was something you did with your wet washing when you took it out of the machine. We haven’t updated those fundraising laws so it’s harder for charities to call on donors to support them.
“The conversation around evidence could be more in depth, and I think more work around assessing the impact of charitable donations is going to be really important in building a strong culture around giving.”
According to Philanthropy Australia’s National Action Plan, giving in Australia is currently at around 0.81 per cent of GDP, compared to 1.84 per cent in New Zealand and 2.1 per cent in the United States. Reaching the same level as New Zealand could boost charities’ coffers by $17 billion.
Australia has also seen a drop in the number of people giving to charity, from 70 per cent to 61 per cent between 2011 and 2018, according to a Roy Morgan survey.
Asked how Labor’s announcement would impact the conversation around cost of living pressures, Leigh said “strong wage growth” was needed to support broad-based philanthropy.
“Philanthropy shouldn’t be an elite activity; it should be a mass participation sport. But I can understand when people feel their real wages are going backwards that it can be harder to make room in the household budget for donations,” he said.
Leigh also announced that if Labor is elected in the May poll, the party would provide tax deductibility to Australian community foundations.
Philanthropy Australia “enthusiastically welcomed” Labor’s announcement.
Jack Heath, CEO of Philanthropy Australia, said Labor’s commitment could transform Australia.
“Doubling giving would see billions of new dollars flowing into the charitable sector. Ultimately, it means more support for people in greatest need, and more funding to address the greatest challenges our country faces,” he said.
Sam Rosevear, Philanthropy Australia’s executive director of policy, government relations and research, also praised the pledge and in particular Labor’s promise to work collaboratively with the sector.
“‘This collaborative approach is a great way to make policy and set a new strategic direction for philanthropy in Australia,” he said.
“It sets a visionary and inspiring goal to double giving. By harnessing the ideas, effort and resources of the philanthropic, for-purpose and business sectors, the process is well positioned to develop a powerful agenda to turbo-charge the culture and practice of giving in Australia.”
The federal government was contacted for comment.
To read Philanthropy Australia’s election statement, including its National Action Plan to Double Philanthropic Giving to Australian Charities by 2030, see here.