The latest official data shows Australia’s charity sector was robust immediately prior to the advent of COVID and the 2020 bushfires, employing 11% of Australia’s workforce and generating revenue of $166 billion.
It analysed the most current data available, submitted to the regulator by more than 48,000 charities in their 2019 Annual Information Statements.
The report shows charities employed 1.38 million people and sector revenue grew by 6.8% compared with the previous year. Government funding accounted for $78.1 billion, an increase of $4.4 billion. ACNC Commissioner Dr Gary Johns said there was also a $1.3 billion rise in donations, a testament to public confidence in the work charities do. He said the report sets an important benchmark.
“The data certainly indicates that up until the end of 2019, immediately prior to COVID and in the lead up to the summer bushfires, the charity sector was robust, with increases in revenue of $10.5 billion and in assets of more than $30 billion compared with the previous year. Overall, charities operated at a surplus, supported by substantial assets”.
Charities distributed $7.2 billion in grants and donations within Australia, up 27% on the previous year, and distributed just under $2 billion overseas, a 20% increase. As charities’ financial years vary, this edition of the Australian Charities Report comprises information from charities with a financial year between 1 July 2018 and 31 December 2019.
In the 2019 reporting year:
- Charity revenue grew by 6.8% on the previous year.
- Revenue rose by $10.5 billion to $166 billion.
- Revenue from goods and services increased by $3.5 billion to $56.7 billion.
- Donations rose to $11.8 billion – an increase of $1.3 billion from the previous year.
- Government funding accounted for $78.1 billion, an increase of $4.4 billion.
- Charities employed 1.38 million people – approximately 11% of total employment in Australia.
- Charities spent $85.9 billion on employee expenses, up 6% from $81.1 billion the previous year.
- Volunteer numbers decreased by approximately 200,000 to 3.6 million.
- More than half of all charities (51%) operated without any paid staff.
- Overall, Australia’s charities operated at a surplus, supported by substantial assets.
- Assets increased by $30 billion to $354 billion.
- The most common activities for charities were religious activities and primary and secondary education.
- Small charities (annual revenue less than $250,000) made up 65% of the sector.
- Large charities (annual revenue of $1 million or more) made up 19% of the sector and medium charities (annual revenue of $250,000 to $999,999) made up 16%