The latest Australian Charities Report shows a robust sector ahead of an intense bushfire season and unprecedented pandemic. Let’s take a look at the sector during the calm before the storm.

Australian Charities Report

Understanding what the sector looked like in 2019 will be crucial to seeing how 2020 has affected it.

The seventh edition of the Australian Charities Report, the annual analysis of the charities sector by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), has been released. Based on the 2019 Annual Information Statements of more than 48,000 charities, the report shows the contributions of Australia’s charities to the economy and communities both in Australia and overseas.

The report shows that the charity sector revenue grew by 6.8% in 2019; in the same timeframe the Australian economy only grew by 2.2%. The sector employed 11% of the Australian workforce (1.38 million people) and received $166 billion with $11.8 billion in donations – an increase of $1.3 billion in donations from 2018.

Of course, this data is pre-COVID-19, but shows a robust sector prior to the bushfires and pandemic and growing public confidence.

To read more on the impact of COVID-19 on the sector and suggestions from sector leaders on how we can bounce back and mitigate the impact of future crises, see our coverage on the Social Ventures Australia and Centre for Social Impact report Vital support: building resilient charities to support Australia’s wellbeing.

Some key stats for 2019:

  • Charity revenue was $166 million – up by $10.5 billion
  • Assets were at $254 billion – up by $30 billion
  • Government funding increased by $4.4 billion to $78.1 billion
  • Volunteers decreased by 200,000 to 3.6 million
  • 51% of charities operated without any paid staff
  • The most common charitable activities were religious activities, primary education, followed by secondary education

The report paints a picture of the entire sector from the size of charities, the types of beneficiaries, the number of volunteers and employees, down to the revenue sources.

Size of charities

  • 65% of charities are small (annual revenue less than $250,000)
  • 16% of charities are medium (annual revenue of $250,000 to $999,999)
  • 19% of charities are large (annual revenue of $1 million or more)

Location, location

Charity location matched Australia’s population spread:

Australian Charities ReportFor those operating overseas, the most common location was India followed by the Philippines.

Money, money, money

Australian charities reported significant increases in not only revenue, but expenses and assets. This ranged from a 1% growth in revenue for extra small charities and an 8% growth in revenue for extra-large charities.

Total expenses increased by $9.1 billion to $157.6 billion.

Other fun facts:

  • In 2019, 52% of registered charities reported having an online presence, up from 24% in 2018. Those charities working in the field of human rights were most likely to have an online presence at 90%.
  • From 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, the ACNC revoked the charity registrations of 18 organisations due to compliance issues.

Understanding what the sector looked like in 2019 will be crucial to seeing how 2020 has affected it. From face value, it looks like a strong, growing sector in terms of revenue as well as strong public perception. Anecdotally, we’re hearing positive stories that public confidence and trust has increased in 2020, however, revenue has been up and down across the sector, depending on the channel and the organisation. Next year’s report will no doubt provide an interesting insight into the evolution of the sector.

You can access the report here.

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