The latest official data shows Australia’s charity sector was robust immediately prior to the advent of COVID and the 2020 bushfires, employing 11% of Australia’s workforce and generating revenue of $166 billion.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) today released its annual sector analysis in the seventh edition of the Australian Charities Report. It analysed the most current data available, submitted to the regulator by more than 48,000 charities in their 2019 Annual Information Statements.
The report shows charities employed 1.38 million people and sector revenue grew by 6.8% compared with the previous year. Government funding accounted for $78.1 billion, an increase of $4.4 billion. ACNC Commissioner Dr Gary Johns said there was also a $1.3 billion rise in donations, a testament to public confidence in the work charities do. He said the report sets an important benchmark.
“This comprehensive analysis of the data sets the benchmark for our future understanding of the significance of the COVID-19 pandemic and the catastrophic 2020 bushfires. These major events are likely to have affected the sector and we will have a clearer picture of that in our next annual data analysis,” Dr Johns said.
“The data certainly indicates that up until the end of 2019, immediately prior to COVID and in the lead up to the summer bushfires, the charity sector was robust, with increases in revenue of $10.5 billion and in assets of more than $30 billion compared with the previous year. Overall, charities operated at a surplus, supported by substantial assets.
“About half of sector expenditure was allocated to paying the employees that charities need to deliver their vital programs, although 51% of charities operated without any paid staff, relying instead on the generosity of volunteers.”
Charities distributed $7.2 billion in grants and donations within Australia, up 27% on the previous year, and distributed just under $2 billion overseas, a 20% increase. As charities’ financial years vary, this edition of the Australian Charities Report comprises information from charities with a financial year between 1 July 2018 and 31 December 2019.
In the 2019 reporting year:
- Charity revenue grew by 6.8% on the previous year.
- Revenue rose by $10.5 billion to $166 billion.
- Revenue from goods and services increased by $3.5 billion to $56.7 billion.
- Donations rose to $11.8 billion – an increase of $1.3 billion from the previous year.
- Government funding accounted for $78.1 billion, an increase of $4.4 billion.
- Charities employed 1.38 million people – approximately 11% of total employment in Australia.
- Charities spent $85.9 billion on employee expenses, up 6% from $81.1 billion the previous year.
- Volunteer numbers decreased by approximately 200,000 to 3.6 million.
- More than half of all charities (51%) operated without any paid staff.
- Overall, Australia’s charities operated at a surplus, supported by substantial assets.
- Assets increased by $30 billion to $354 billion.
- The most common activities for charities were religious activities and primary and secondary education.
- Small charities (annual revenue less than $250,000) made up 65% of the sector.
- Large charities (annual revenue of $1 million or more) made up 19% of the sector and medium charities (annual revenue of $250,000 to $999,999) made up 16%