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We are pleased to announce the launch of our annual charity sector data analysis. On 17 May we published the seventh edition of the Australian Charities Report. This comprehensive, official data will inform the work of charities, sector stakeholders, policy makers, governments and researchers now and in coming years. The report is based on data that 48,000 charities submitted to us in their 2019 Annual Information Statements.

Analysis, collation and publication of the information submitted via the Annual Information Statement each year in the Australian Charities Report and via the online interactive data tool is central to the ACNC’s mission. One of our main functions is to help the public understand the work of the charity sector, which furthers our aim to maintain, protect and enhance public trust and confidence in the sector and to support a robust, vibrant, independent and innovative sector.

Charities have different reporting deadlines throughout the year, some report on a calendar year, others on a financial year and yet others use different dates. To maximise the dataset and reliability analysis is not commenced until after most registered charities that are required to submit information to us have done so. We recognise that the present situation is therefore not reflected; it is chiefly a comprehensive record of key sector indicators, and serves as an important benchmark. The data is made highly accessible and can be used to help describe the charity sector as well as be interrogated by researchers.

The seventh edition of the Australian Charities Report demonstrates the strength of Australia’s charity sector just before the advent of COVID-19 and the 2020 summer bushfires. Many would be surprised to discover that during the 2019 financial reporting period, charities employed 11% of Australia’s workforce. The sector generated revenue of $166 billion, a 6.8 per cent rise from the previous year, far exceeding growth in the Australian economy at that time.

There has been much discussion about the impacts on charities of COVID-19 and the major bushfires that devastated parts of Australia at the end of 2019 and continued into 2020. Among those concerns are a decline in volunteer participation, impacts on fundraising, increased demand for charities’ services and changes to established service delivery methods.

The report and accompanying dataset are important resources for the sector to help map its size, financial contribution and the breadth of services it delivers over time. Not only does the sector deliver critical services, often on behalf of government, it is a major employer. The data provides government and key funders insights into the sector.

Disasters like COVID demonstrate how important it is to have reserves and assets that can underpin a charity’s viability.

The seventh edition of the Australian Charities Report provides the baseline upon which to compare key sector data from the 2019 period to the tumultuous period that followed. I urge you to read through the report, as well as explore the interactive data, to gain an understanding of the crucial sector your charity is part of.

Best wishes,
The Hon Dr Gary Johns