Media Release: New report shows size of charity sector

Embargo: December 4, 2015

Australia’s charity sector has combined income of $103 billion, according to new a report released today by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).

The Australian Charities Report 2014, produced in collaboration with the Centre for Social Impact and the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW Australia, is the first in-depth analysis of the financial situation of Australia’s charity sector.

Speaking at the Melbourne office of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, ACNC Commissioner Susan Pascoe AM stated that the release of the Australian Charities Report 2014 is a major addition to the information available about the sector.

“The report has given the community new insight into Australia’s charities,” Ms Pascoe said.

“The report will help us further understand the state of the charity sector in Australia and its needs, concerns and challenges. It also provides a rich source of data for new lines of research and analysis.

“While this is the second Australian Charities Report published by the ACNC, it is the first to analyse the financial information of registered charities, and as expected, it has produced some fascinating findings.

“While most Australians are very much aware and appreciative of Australia’s charitable sector, they may be surprised to find that it is also of huge economic significance.

“One of the key findings from the report was that Australian registered charities had combined income of $103 billion, with nearly $7 billion coming from donations and bequests.

“Interestingly, the largest 5% of charities received 80% of the sector’s total income.

“Over the same period, charities spent $95 billion pursuing their charitable purposes, with the remaining $8 billion set aside for future charitable investment.

“As those figures suggest most charities operate a balanced budget. Some charities were even able to achieve a surplus, highlighting that the sector as a whole is healthy and sustainable.

“The report also found that Australian charities employ more than 1 million people – a large part of the work force.

“When considered alongside the numbers of volunteers, around two million, you begin to get a well-rounded picture of the magnitude of the charity sector in Australia.”

In addition to the size of the sector, the report also focuses on the work of Australian charities.

“The most common activities undertaken by Australian charities were religion, education and research, and health,” Ms Pascoe said.

“Education and research was the largest charitable activity in terms of income, followed by health, and development and housing.”

Paul Ronalds, CEO of Save The Children Australia, welcomed the report and highlighted its value in helping Australians understand the charity sector.

“For too long, our understanding of the charity sector’s contribution to Australian society has been hard to measure,” Mr Ronalds said.

“This report makes a significant contribution to changing this situation.

“The report provides vital insights into the structure and sustainability of this most critical part of Australian society.”

Tessa Boyd-Caine, Deputy CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service, said, “While charities in Australia hold a high level of public trust and confidence, we must continually work towards strengthening that trust.

“Providing rigorous, routine and reliable information about the activities of this socially and economically significant sector is a key way we can do this.

“It’s particularly interesting to see how much value the sector contributes across a diverse range and size of organisations, from targeted, locally-based organisations in communities to large, national charities working across multiple areas.”

The significance of this year’s report as a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the charity sector was expressed by Sarah Davies, CEO of Philanthropy Australia.

“There is a real ‘data deficit’ when it comes to philanthropy and the broader not-for-profit sector, and that’s why this report is such an important new resource,” Ms Davies said.

“The report is also a demonstration of the immense value of having the ACNC as a national regulator, and the vital role it plays in collecting and sharing information about charities in Australia.”

Dr Andrew Young, CEO of the Centre For Social Impact stated that CSI was excited to be working with the ACNC to promote strong engagement with this data.

“The charity sector in Australia is large and very diverse; organisations range in size from a few thousand dollars a year operating with purely volunteer effort, to billions of dollars turnover with thousands of staff and volunteers,” Dr Young said.

“For charities, the world is becoming increasingly complex, for example with evolving funding models and increasing pressures to demonstrate impact. The Australian Charities Report 2014 provides valuable information for effective planning and decision-making.”

In addition to the full report, the ACNC, the Centre For Social Impact, and the Social Policy Research Sector at UNSW Australia will publish sector summary reports.

The Australian Charities Report 2014 and the sector summary reports are available free of charge at australiancharities.acnc.gov.au.

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ACNC Media Contact:
media@acnc.gov.au
0466 089 108

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