Australian Community Trends Report
Not-for profit sector and the charities, February 2019
Posted on 11.03.2019
The not-for profit sector and the charities, social enterprises and community organisations across this nation provide much of the social infrastructure that builds the capacity of communities Australia wide. Their value to this nation is demonstrated by the almost $143 billion given in the last year, most of it by the community rather than government. The esteem of this sector is demonstrated by the size of the charity workforce, which employs one in every ten Australian workers.
While the sector is viewed in a positive light and five in six Australians give to charities, these are uncertain times and Australia is changing rapidly. Demographic shifts, social changes and constant technological advancement are transforming Australian communities. How and where Australians live, and how they allocate their time and money is shifting.
There are also big generational transitions taking place. From 2019, there will be more Australians born since 1980 than before 1980.
While the emerging generations are purpose driven and socially conscious, they are also less likely to commit long-term to a specific charity or not-for-profit organisation. Almost four in five Australians (79%) agree that charities will struggle in the future as younger Australians are less actively involved than previous generations. Engaging this post-loyal generation will be key, as from 2019 Generations Y and Z will comprise the majority
of the workforce — outnumbering Generations X and the Baby Boomers for the first time.
The purpose of this annual Australian Communities Report is to equip leaders in the sector to respond with relevance to the changing external environment and the emerging trends. This 2019 study builds on the results from the 2017, 2016 and 2015 research and offers insights to help Australia’s not-for-profit leaders continue to create ripples of change that over time will build the capacity of communities locally, nationally and indeed
Charitable giving remains strong in Australia.
Five in six Australians give to charities or not-for-profit organisations (83%). More than three quarters of Australians (77%) give at least annually, while 17% do not give at all.
Australian generosity extends more than just financially. In the past 12 months, two thirds of Australian givers (66%) have donated goods, while one in three (32%) have volunteered.
Advocacy and raising awareness is on the rise with one in five Australian givers supporting charities/not-for-profits in this way (21% 2019 cf. 15% 2017).
Australian givers are increasingly ‘need responders’ with two in five most likely to give when they hear about a need or issue (40%).
Givers prefer to support charities with a local focus.
Australians still have a desire to look after their own backyard. Three in five Australian givers (61%) prefer to support charitable organisations with a local/national focus.
While raising awareness for causes and issues is growing among the younger generations, Australian givers are still more likely to want to support charities which directly assist in responding to an issue (38%) as opposed to those which raise awareness of an issue (29%).
Knowing and trusting an organisation is key to engagement.
For two thirds of Australian givers (66%), knowing and trusting the organisation is an extremely or very significant motivator for getting involved. There is also a need for personal values to align with the organisation receiving the donation (58%) and a desire to make the world a better place for the less fortunate (55%).
Australian givers are looking for transparency and impact from charitable organisations.
Almost seven in ten givers (69% extremely/very important) look for transparent reporting of administration costs from charities. Givers want to support an organisation with a proven track record (68%), that provides a detailed
breakdown of where donations are allocated (67%) and that reports on the impact they are having (62%).
Keeping administration costs below 20% will achieve positive perceptions among the public.
More than four in five (84%) Australian givers believe 20% or less of an organisation’s total revenue should be allocated to administration costs. Almost half of Australian givers (47%), however, believe that less than 10% of total revenue should be used by an organisation on administration. This perspective creates a
challenge for charity workers with just 7% believing their organisation could have its
greatest impact if their administration costs were below 10%.
The challenge of trust in today’s society.
Positively, three in five Australian givers (61%) believe the registered charities they support are extremely or very trustworthy. These trust levels, however, decrease when looking at not-for-profit organisations (37%), the charity sector as a whole (29%) and social enterprises (23%).
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