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ACNC report: Charity sector income $103 billion

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has today launched a landmark report which comprehensively analyses the charity sector’s finances for the first time.

The Australian Charities Report 2014, produced in collaboration with the Centre for Social Impact and the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW Australia, found that the Australian charity sector has a combined income of $103 billion. Nearly $7 billion of this is from donations and bequests.

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

“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,” Pascoe commented.

“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.

 The report found that the largest 5 per cent of charities received 80 per cent 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,” said Pascoe.

“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 and engages approximately two million volunteers.

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

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

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

The sector responds

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,” Ronalds said.

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

Sarah Davies, CEO of Philanthropy Australia, also praised the detailed analysis provided by the report.

“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,” she said.

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.”

Key report findings:

  • Charities have combined total income of over $103 billion.
  • The largest 5% of charities receive 80% of the sector’s income.
  • Charities are financially healthy.
  • Most charities operate a balanced budget. They have a surplus or deficit of no more than 20% of their total income and were more likely to have a surplus.
  • Around 40% of charities have Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status. 30% of small charities, 51% of medium charities, and 66% of large charities have DGR status.
  • Charities employ over 1 million staff.

The Australian Charities Report 2014 and the sector summary reports are freely availablehere.

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.

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