Bushfire relief and recovery
By June 2020, almost $300 million had been donated to 3 major charities to support recovery following the 2019–20 bushfire season:
- Red Cross – $216 million
- The Salvation Army – $43 million
- St Vincent de Paul Society – $23 million (ABC News 2020b).
As well, funds were raised via:
- online platforms such as Facebook and GoFundMe ($85 million was raised, with over $50 million raised by comedian Celeste Barber)
- donations from the banking sector, supermarket chains, businesses (such as Qantas, Rio Tinto and Holden) as well as from individuals, celebrities and sportspeople – including a donation of $70 million by Andrew (Twiggy) and Nicola Forrest (ABC News 2020a).
These donations were not only directed to the immediate recovery and support of bushfire-affected areas but also pledged to help create a national plan to mitigate bushfire threats in future, with a focus on climate change.
Impact of COVID-19 on giving
‘The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Australian philanthropy is forecast to be significant, with the biggest impact not this year but next when total giving is expected to drop back to 2012 levels.’ (PA 2020b).
The economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic put financial stress on the non-profit sector (PA 2020a). As many Australians faced unemployment and financial hardship, a general tightening of budgets – compounded by hygiene concerns around the use of cash – resulted in a drop in the value of charitable donations at a time when they were needed most (F&P 2020). Many fundraising events were also cancelled or postponed (Masige 2020).
In April 2020, 47% of 366 charities surveyed reported that they had experienced a substantial drop in donation fundraising income, with another 20% reporting a slight decrease (Institute of Community Directors Australia 2020).
Analysis undertaken during the pandemic estimated that total giving would fall around 7.1% in 2020 and by a further 12% in 2021 (McLeod 2020).
Where do I go for more information?
For more information on philanthropy and charitable giving in Australia, see:
ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company) News 2020a. Australian fires: celebrity, business and sportspeople donations hit great height for charity and bushfire relief. Ultimo: ABC. Viewed 5 December 2020.
ABC News 2020b. Bushfire donations topped $282 million between three major charities – almost half’s still in the bank. Ultimo: ABC. Viewed 5 December 2020.
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2021. Consumer Price Index, Australia. ABS cat. no. 6401.0 (reference period December 2020). Canberra: ABS. Viewed 2 February 2021.
ACNC (Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission) 2020a. ACNC home page. Melbourne: ACNC. Viewed 28 December 2020.
ACNC 2020b. Are there too many charities in Australia? Melbourne: ACNC. Viewed 28 November 2020.
ACNC 2021c. Australian charities report, 7th edition. Melbourne: ACNC. Viewed 19 May 2021.
ATO (Australian Taxation Office) 2021a. Gifts and donations. Canberra: ATO. Viewed 22 June 2021.
ATO 2021b. Taxation statistics 2018–19. Canberra: ATO. Viewed 6 June 2021.
Burns W, Wang S & Arias D 2017. Business giving and volunteering. Giving Australia 2016, report series commissioned by the Department of Social Services. Sydney: Centre for Corporate Public Affairs, the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, Queensland University of Technology, and the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne, Swinburne University of Technology.
CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) 2019. CAF world giving index: 10 years of giving trends. 10th edn. Kent, United Kingdon: CAF. Viewed 26 November 2020.
Cortis N, Powell A, Ramia I & Marjolin A 2018. Australia’s grant-making charities in 2016: an analysis of structured philanthropy and other grant-makers. Sydney: Centre for Social Impact and Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales.
F&P (Fundraising and Philanthropy) 2020. The impact of Covid-19 on fundraising. 24 November 2020. New Lambton: F&P. Viewed 14 January 2021.
Institute of Community Directors Australia 2020. COVID-19: community sector impact survey. North Melbourne: Our Community. Viewed 14 January 2020.
Martin F 2018. Tax deductibility of philanthropic donations: reform of the specific listing provisions in Australia. Australian Tax Forum 33(3).
Masige S 2020. ‘Charities that rely strictly on cash will face a decline in donations’: how charity fundraising is changing thanks to Australia going cashless during COVID-19. Sydney: Business Insider Australia. Viewed 14 January 2021.
McGregor-Lowndes M, Crittall M, Conroy D, Keast R, Baker C, Barraket J & Scaife W 2017. Individual giving and volunteering. Giving Australia 2016, report series commissioned by the Department of Social Services. Brisbane: Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, Queensland University of Technology, the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne, Swinburne University of Technology, and the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs.
McGregor-Lowndes M, Crittall M & Williamson A 2019. Ancillary funds 2000–2017. Brisbane: Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies and Queensland University of Technology. Viewed 9 February 2021.
McLeod J 2020. Where to from here? The outlook for philanthropy during COVID-19. JBWere. Viewed 30 November 2020.
PA (Philanthropy Australia) 2020a. Philanthropy and COVID-19. Philanthropy Australia. Viewed 27 November 2020.
PA 2020b. Lessons for COVID from the GFC. Philanthropy Australia. Viewed 30 November 2020.
Scaife W, McGregor-Lowndes M, Barraket J & Burns W (eds) 2016. Giving Australia 2016: literature review summary report. Brisbane: Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, Queensland University of Technology, the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne, Swinburne University of Technology, and the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs.
VA (Volunteering Australia) 2015. Volunteering Australia Project: the review of the definition of volunteering. Canberra: VA. Viewed 11 December 2020.
WGA (Workplace Giving Australia) 2020. FY19 ATO data and giving research. Sydney: WGA. Viewed 1 January 2021.
WGA 2021. Why workplace giving? Sydney: WGA. Viewed 4 February 2021.