Research: Giving Australia 2016 - How do people and businesses give?

hfriedlander, 16th December 2016

New research, Giving Australia 2016, has recently been released by the Queensland University of Technology Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Non-profit Studies in partnership with the Swinburne University of Technology’s Centre for Social Impact and Centre for Corporate Public Affairs, as commissioned by The Department of Social Services.

Giving Australia 2016 has collected comprehensive, up-to-date information from individuals, charitable organisations, philanthropists and businesses in Australia and provides critical information about giving and volunteering behaviours, attitudes and trends. This data collection builds on information gathered through Giving Australia 2005.

An estimated 14.9 million Australian adults (80.8%) gave in total $12.5 billion to charities and nonprofit organisations (NPOs) over 12 months in 2015-16*. The average donation was $764.08 and median donation $200.

The research deals with some interesting points on how people give, and why, and what that looks like for not-for-profit organisations.

Some interesting points are:Giving data 2016 graph
  • Fewer people are giving more. While the percentage of people donating has slightly decreased, the average donation has increased in real terms by $210.16. 
  • In response to the decreasing effectiveness of traditional (e.g. telephone or on the street) approaches, many charities are invested in technologies making it easier to give through online and digital giving. Although the benefits of technology and social media are well established, there is a strong view that face-to-face relationships will remain just as important in the future as they were in the past. 
  • Some 60.5% of respondents indicated that they generally give on the spur of the moment. Those who plan their donations give six times more dollars
The research found that in relation to giving to not-for-profits:
  • In 2016, nonprofit organisations (NPOs) that engaged in fundraising activities most commonly sought revenue from regular givers and membership fees
  • 48% of cultural organisations used fundraising as their main source of revenue
  • Small NPOs relied on membership fees, where medium and large organisations relied on a regular giving program
How and why do businesses give?
  • Businesses prefer to give money rather than goods or services
  • Large businesses tend to give more
  • Businesses reported that giving is driven by an ethical imperative to give back to the community in which they operate 
  • Businesses also recognised the benefits of giving for bolstering the employer brand and competitive employee recruitment, retention, and engagement
  • Demonstrates commitment to the local community, or
  • There is a personal connection (owner or staff) to the NPO or cause.
Issues affecting the not-for-profit sector

The sector identified the need to: diversify funding and appeal to supporter motivations; invest in innovation; and encourage planned giving including bequests. Other issues included"

  • increasing difficulty attracting donors and volunteers
  • public concerns about fundraising practices, administration costs and duplication, and
  • ‘stuck in tradition’ attitudes turning off younger supporters.

Get the full Individual Giving factsheets.

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Giving Australia 2016 reports that volunteering time and hours have both increased in the past decade.


Communication is an important element in devising, disseminating and pursuing the organisational goals for all organisations. It involves informing target audiences about frequent, timely and relevant information. Members were consulted with regard their particular needs; as well as staff who are responsive, knowledgeable and passionate about the organisation. Being very different target groups, we found communication approaches wanted by both groups to differ. We surveyed Australian sporting organisations aiming to examine their communication strategies. Not surprisingly, our findings suggest that many organisations think of communication as an after-thought. We argue that sporting organisations are not making the most the latest communication methods, nor progressing with member’s communication desires or what members are actually seeking. Members want electronic, two-way and fast communication tools including electronic newsletter and bulletin boards. This research opens up debate on how community-based media may value-add to the organisational communication mix, and how digital broadcasting can be developed by the community broadcasting sector to enhance the communications capabilities for the not for profit sector.


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