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A report from Deloitte Economics estimates the economic contribution of the Australian charity sector at $129 billion.

The report – Economic contribution of the Australian charity sector – draws on charity data submitted as part of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s 2014 and 2015 Annual Information Statements.


In all, data from nearly 47,300 Australian charities was analysed. The findings included:

  • The economic contribution of these charities is estimated at $129 billion, comprising $71.8 billion direct contribution and a further $57 billion flow-on contribution.
  • The sector directly employs 840,500 full time equivalent paid workers, and its upstream activities result in a further 471,700 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers being indirectly employed.
  • Collectively, the sector is roughly equivalent in size to the Australian retail sector, education and training, or the public administration and safety sector.

The above figures do not include the value of formal volunteering conducted across charities. Formal volunteers are estimated to contribute a total of 328 million unpaid volunteering hours, who would have cost around $12.8 billion in wages to hire, if paid.

The report also found that most charities operated on a small surplus, though most also do not have a large liquid asset base to cope with unanticipated increases in costs or decreases in revenue.

There may be increasing pressures on charity budgets arising from:

  • the cost of labour increasing
  • greater demand for services, in part due to an aging population and increasing income inequality and
  • continuing pressure on government’s budgets putting grant funding at risk. Governments at both Federal and State level are facing budget deficits, driven by limited growth in government revenues concurrent with significant expenditure commitments.