Moderator – Kate McFarlane:

Welcome to the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission webinar about what the Australian charity sector looks like.

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Good afternoon and welcome to the ACNC’s webinar on ‘What does the Australian charity sector look like?’

I’m Kate McFarlane, a Senior Education Officer at the ACNC and I’ll be moderating today’s session.

Charities have a number of ongoing obligations; one is to report annually. All charities must submit an Annual Information Statement and a financial report if they are medium or large.

One reason the ACNC collects these reports, and the information about charities found in them, is to analyse the data and share it with the Australian community to increase understanding.

Our presenter today is Dr Andrew Young, the CEO of the Centre for Social Impact (CSI).

The ACNC commissioned Centre for Social Impact at University of New South Wales to:

  • analyse the data reported by charities for the 2014 year
  • develop various reports, AND
  • a website to explore the data, as well as other means to share the data.

Hi Andrew and thank you for joining me today.


Hi Kate and hello everyone.


With us today we also have:

  • Ross Gillott, a senior policy officer at the ACNC ,
  • Matt Crichton and
  • Manori Gunatilake,

Both communications officers at the ACNC.

Ross, Matt and Manori will be helping to answer any questions you may have live throughout the webinar.

If you would like to ask a question, you can type it at any time in the GoToWebinar panel, which should appear on the right-hand side of your screen. Use the chat or question box to ask a question. We will answer your questions directly and privately but if we think the answers would be useful for everyone, we will respond to everyone – this will show the question and our reply. So, let us know if you want your question to be private.

We suggest you keep your questions general, rather than very specific and in a way that identifies your charity. If there are any questions we can’t answer during the webinar today - which may happen if we get a lot of questions, or very complex questions – we will provide answers at a later stage, by email.

Just a few more tips before we get started.If you have any difficulties with the sound on your computer, try calling the phone number listed in the GoToWebinar panel. You will also have been given an access code in the email you were sent by GoToWebinar when you registered.This webinar will be uploaded on our website after the session today at Finally, we value any suggestions you have to improve our webinars in the future. So please pass on your suggestions in the survey at the end of this session. I’ll hand you over to Andrew now to begin.


Today we are going explore the Australian Charity sector data for the 2014 reporting year. I will:

  • Give a quick overview of what’s included in the dataset, and the limitations that apply to the data
  • Describe the range of ways you can interact with the data, from downloading summary reports and detailed reports to the online interactive data
  • Take you through an overview of the data. I have two aims in doing this; one is to give you a picture of the size, shape and diversity of the sector, and the second is to give you a sense of what you can do if you want to explore the data online yourself.
  • I will also go into a little more detail about Charity finances, because the 2014 reporting year was the first year Charities were required to provide this information.

At the end we’ll have some time for questions. I will respond to some of the most commonly asked questions and anything that may come up in the GotoWebinar Q&A box.


The ACNC dataset is a unique one: it’s much more comprehensive than any Charity sector data we’ve had in Australia before. It also stacks up pretty well internationally.

We have information about almost 38,000 charities that provided Annual Information Statements for 2014 in time for the analysis. This was matched to information from the ACNC register, the Australian Business Register, and where information was available, to data from the Australian Taxation Office. We also examined some data for 2013 to look at change over time.

There are of course some limitations in the data - missing data is one.Only 38k of the 54,000 registered charities are included in this data. Of the remainder, several thousand will report in “bulk” processes, and some were just late.Not all charities were required to provide financial data – about 28k of the 38k in the dataset did so. The data is self-reported, so we depend on charities providing accurate information.

The ACNC has made great efforts in supporting charities to understand and meet their reporting requirements, and ensure data quality. And the ACNC has worked closely with the research team to clean up the data, including going back to some charities to clarify financial info.


There’s a wide range of fields in the data and these can be thought of in two groups:

  • Dimensions” are the key fields we have used as axes in graphs or to create views of the data in presenting it to you. For example, “Sector” is often used for colour coding in our analysis, and size as an axis dimension.“
  • Data” is the information we present in columns and bars and circles.
  • There is of course some cross-over between data and dimensions – for example, charity income is listed as “data” but is also the driver of the “dimension” charity size.

The list above is a good overview of what we have in the data – but there is even more.You’ll get a tour of most of these fields in the next three-quarters of an hour.


The Centre for Social Impact and the Social Policy Research Centre are really excited to be working with the ACNC to facilitate engagement with the data. We’re all very keen to make the data as useful and as engaging as we can, for Charities themselves and the wide range of organisations, groups and people with interests in the sector, from Government to local community.


All of the options to engage with the data that Andrew will talk through today are available online at the microsite at .On your screen you will see the home page for this microsite, which is a small website that sits alongside our larger website at

At the bottom of the page you will see four large circles. Each of these circles offer a different way to explore the data.

  • Download will take you to all of the different reports, summaries and snapshots to download
  • Explore will allow you to explore the data set in detail using interactive software. You’ll be able to create visualisations and take a deep dive into the data using filters to refine your search.
  • Sector will allow you to explore the data using interactive software to take an in-depth look at Australian charities by sector, for example you could focus on the health sector or social services.
  • News lets you review all of the latest news items about the research and data.


We have developed a number of options, and as Kate mentioned, they are all available on I’m going to describe the interactive datacube in a moment, but the microsite also has a range of reports and summaries for download. For the traditionalists we have the full report complete with appendices (130 pages), but we’ve also released a 2 page ‘snapshot’ and a 12 page ‘summary’ of the charity sector data.

There will also be sub-reports released on different areas – including disability, which has just been released, and we’re following up with reports on International Charities and Red Tape. We will be progressively publishing sector summaries in the near future. If the full report is not enough for you, you can also download the full dataset at , and do your own analysis.


We’ve developed an interactive “datacube”, where anyone can go and access the data and filter it for reports by different individual charities, by different sizes, sectors and geographic areas for instance. The datacube includes the full dataset, except for the 586 charities who had withheld data - a total of 37,242 reporting charities. More will be added in coming weeks so the interactive data here will be even more comprehensive than in the downloadable reports. All of the graphics in the summary reports on the website can be recreated in the datacube, and you can also “filter” these graphics to focus on Charities in a given sector, size, state or more.

One example of the filters is shown on this slide – the Sector filter. These appear through the different pages in the datacube. Over the remainder of this presentation few slides I’ll be showing you different graphics from the datacube. You can reproduce almost all of these, and play with them.


My first key message is about the diversity of the Sector.This slide illustrates this with a statement of purpose from some Charities. The Annual Information Statement asked charities to describe how their activities and outcomes helped achieve their purpose. These examples show how charities fulfil some basic human needs: education about nutrition, translation and interpretation (for Indigenous communities?); assistance during emergencies; care for animals and the environment; worship and community support; activities that enable people to participate in and enjoy social and cultural life, and promote their wellbeing.


This illustration compares two key pieces of data; the number of charities and the total income of charities by Charity Size.We’ve created six Charity Size segments – from Xtra Small (XS) to Xtra Xtra Large (XXL).Charity Size is based on the total income reported, from below $50k (XS) to over $100m (XXL).We’ll use these segments in many of the illustrations to come. This graph shows the difference between the total numbers of charities by income size on the left and the corresponding proportion of the total income they hold on the right. The great majority of charities are medium and small (i.e. have an income of less than $1m); but the top 4.3% of charities account for more than 80% of the income. (the top right).NB the 4.3% calculation excludes Charities who did not submit a financial report


You can also explore Charities by Sector using the datacube. In this graphic each circle represents a sector and the size of the circle represents the total income (that is, the sectors with the largest incomes have the biggest circles). Education and Research & Health are the two biggest sectors by income, but you’ll notice that religion and education and research have the highest number of charities.


This graphic shows you all charities - each charity has its own circle and when you are online you can hover over the circle to see the details of that charity.The colours represent the different Sectors. And you can really dig in and see detail within and across the sectors.


For example, if we look at the XXL health charities you can see that the biggest share of activity is in hospital services rehabilitation and aged care.And if you look to the right, you can also see which large charities are working in these spaces. There are multiple layers of data that can be explored.


You can also zoom in by geography. If you click within the map on Australia, you can find all the charities represented by their sector colour and their income size. If we were to pick a dot you get an information box that pops up like this one


I’ve zoomed in on Sydney here, an “hovered” the mouse over a dot in the city; an information box pops up like this one for Uniting Care NSW.ACT.You can do this for any Charity in the map, and on several of the other illustrations in the datacube.


There are other dimensions to Geography too. Here we break down Charities by Urban/Regional/Rural and whether they operate in one state, many and/or overseas.

NB the bottom 2 pie charts for One-Many-Overseas add up to 100%


The data also includes information about paid and unpaid staff (volunteers). Unsurprisingly, the larger organisations have most of the money and the staff. Volunteers are more distributed across organisations irrespective of size (except in the largest charities). You can drill down on the age of charities by sector. It’s important to remember this only includes those that were still registered in 2014.Charities that have been disestablished are not shown. The “rapid growth” in newly registered charities in the past two decades or so may not be as dramatic as this graphic shows.

NB: What happened in 1977? Uniting Church of Australia was formed and hundreds of charities were formed under that name in that year. They wouldn’t have all been new. The broader point shows there are a lot more charities registered. Spike in 2000 don’t know why yet? Millennium?


There is also detail on the Charities Report microsite about the entity type and status of charities. This slide shows one example – for DGR status - you can explore the other data yourselves!


The Charities Report site provides financial information on the charities that reported finance data – we have more than 27,000 in total.


Thanks Andrew, we’ve had a lot of interest and questions about charities’ financial information as 2014 was the first year that the ACNC collected financial information from charities.It is important to remember that we cannot understand a charity by only looking at its financial information.As mentioned by Andrew, this research has highlighted the diversity of the sector.All of these differences affect how much money a charity spends and what it spends its money on.

For example, a remote health charity employing a range of medical professionals and offering services such as dialysis, will have costs that are far greater than a charity based in the centre of Perth raising funds for a local childcare centre.When looking at a charity’s financial information, always consider potential factors that may affect that information and how you interpret it. If possible, look for other sources of information, including contacting the charity to ask questions.

You can read more information about understanding financial information at has been a lot of discussion about charity impact and administration costs, including fundraising costs. At the bottom of the understanding financial information page, there are links to factsheets on charities and administration costs, as well as understanding charity impact. We have also developed a factsheet on money myths to separate the facts from the myths when operating as a charity. It covers such facts as a charity can make a surplus and a charity can invest. You can access this at


One of the most exciting things about the 2014 data is the information about the sector’s income flows.Charities in 2014 reported $42 billion in government grants - around 40.6% of total income to the sector.Donations and bequests were worth $6.8 billion – only 6.6% of total income. We often hear that Australian philanthropy is under-developed compared to other countries. This gives us some baseline data to track national efforts to promote philanthropy,and the other feature of interest is that over half of the sector’s income comes from sources other than government or philanthropy (including sales, user fees, member fees, interest, dividends, asset sales etc).

These pie charts illustrate that large charities have more government income as a proportion (the green) than smaller charities; smaller charities rely more on donations and bequests.Other Income” is about half regardless of Charity Size. This is one area for more research in the future.The data also shows us the concentration of income within the Charity Sector.A small number of Charities (a little over 100) received over $100 million while half of charities had incomes under $146,000.

We can also look more closely at who receives different streams of income.Government grants are an important income source (41% on average) - but the majority of charities (64%) received no income from government. Government grants were more important to the income of charities who:

  • had their main activities in the categories of law and legal, social services, aged care, civic and advocacy and mental health.
  • were based in NT and TAS
  • were large (defined as having income over $1 million)


As we saw before, donations and bequests are a fairly small proportion of the sector’s total income. In 2014, 2 in 3 charities had a stream of income from donations or bequests.1 in 4 charities depended on donations for more than half their income.And donations were more important to the incomes of charities performing international and religious activities.They were more important to young charities and more important to small charities.

As we saw before, most income to Australia’s charities is not from grants or donations. 53% of sector income comes under the category of ‘other income - what we might call trading, commercial or market income, but it includes income from many different sources. This income stream was particularly important to the incomes of grant-making charities, many of which receive interest; higher education (presumably student fees), housing (presumably rents) and also recreation and social clubs (presumably member fees) and less important to charities whose main activities were international, law and legal, mental health and social services – who as we saw before, tend to be more dependent on government or philanthropy.

This is a breakdown of how Australia’s charities spent their funds. More than half of spending was on employees. On average, the larger the charity the greater the proportion of spending went to employment costs, and the lesser went on grants and donations made to others. The data will also show you net income (the difference between the total income and total expenses reported), expressed as a % of total income. The average margin is 8%. Charities were more likely to have a surplus than deficit. With only 1 year of data, we can’t develop perfect indicators of financial health. We recognise that surpluses or deficits might result from lags between funding or donation cycles, and project expenditure, so income and expenditure are unlikely to fall neatly into the reporting period. But while may not be a perfect indicator, it gives a broad picture of charities’ financial status, and it’s something we can build on with additional years of date

If we look at these margins by sector, you can see that they’re really tight in the social services and the health and education sectors (remember they are the biggest sectors).The philanthropic sector is retaining more than 1/3 of its income. Why? Are they building up an endowment for example?

The main messages I want to leave you with are:

  • We hope that this will be a really valuable source of information and it becomes a resource that people can easily access and use in a flexible and fully accessible way.
  • It’s simple to use and really interactive
  • and we’d love your feedback and welcome any ideas or questions.

There is a feedback page on the microsite that you’re very welcome to use. At the launches last year we asked attendees how they might use this data. Examples included, Peak bodies, advocacy, Tax accountants being asked to help register new charities check the data first .Various charities: benchmarking information; potential collaborations; data for grant applications (eg we are the only charity doing this in our region) Government agencies: social policy


Thank you for the introduction to what is an amazing resource, Andrew. You mentioned the government data site, Can you briefly explain the difference between and this site, Both sites contain data but what is the difference?

Andrew is a website to share public data. It contains raw data that has not been analysed. Raw data can be easily downloaded there for detailed analysis. includes interactive software that allows you to explore and filter data to create visualisations. It’s designed to be easier to use. Data corresponding with the graphics can also be downloaded.


Another common question that comes up is, can you download or print the visualisations?


Yes,after you have filered the visualisations to exactly what you want, in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen there is a download button. Click on this to download a PDF which you will be able to print. You can also share and publish the visualisations.


Will Australian charity data from future years be added to this website to be explored?




We’ve had a couple of questions come through from our webinar participants today. The first one is

Finally, can we quickly cross to the live site and you quickly show us how to create a customised visualisation? For example, how do I find the overall income for charities that provide housing activities in WA?


Cross the and show filters to find the answer. Also point out the print button down the time


We’ve covered a lot today and suggested a number of pages on our website. I’ve included the main pages on this the main page where you can access all of the reports and the software to explore the data. a lot of helpful information about factors to consider when looking at the financial information of charities. At the bottom of this page there are also links to factsheets on charities and administration costs, as well as understanding charity looks at the common myths about what charities can and can’t do with their money and separates the facts from the myths, it looks at administration costs, investing, making a surplus and undertaking commercial activities. ,links directly to our charity register where you can search for is a government website where you can access government public datasets. Search for ACNC and all of our datasets will come up.


You can contact us through our Advice line on 13 ACNC between 9am and 6pm Australian Eastern Summer Time, Monday to Friday or by email at Email is useful if you have a more complicated question. Our Advice services team are great and will do their best to help you. We are also very active on social media , including Facebook, Twitter and have a range of videos on our Youtube channel


We’ll finish there.Thank you for joining us today and for your questions. Matt, Manori and Ross will stay online for the next 10 minutes to continue to answer your questions. Please wait and they’ll get back to you or ask you for your contact details to respond a bit later on.The ACNC runs webinars for charities on a broad range of topics.You can visit our webinar page to watch previous webinars at

Our program for 2016 is up and registrations are open. Our next webinar will be on 9 February and its topic is ‘Before you apply to register a charity’. It will cover everything you need to know before applying to register a charity with the ACNC. We’d appreciate any feedback you have, so that we can make any improvements to future webinars. Please let us know in the survey at the end of this webinar.

You can also get in touch with the ACNC Education team directly at Ross, Matt and Manori for answering questions. Finally, thank you Andrew for making the time to be with us today and for sharing some great insights. You and your team have done a fantastic job analysing the ACNC data and sharing it in easily accessible ways.And thanks to everyone for attending. Goodbye and see you next time.

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