There are over 3,000 Private Ancillary Funds (PAF) and Public Ancillary Funds (PuAF) in Australia. These are two common forms of philanthropic organisations, but represent only a subset of the total number of philanthropic organisations in Australia.
The total assets of PAFs in 2014 were estimated to be $4 billion with cumulative distributions since 2001 totalling around $1.7 billion.
Unfortunately we do not yet have accurate data on the total number of philanthropic organisations which includes the most common form of philanthropic organisation - income tax exempt charitable trusts.
Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Data
In 2014, Australian charities had a total income of $103 Billion, of which donations and bequests comprised $6.8 Billion (or 6.6%). This data is sourced from the 2014 Australian Charities Report published by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.
Australian Bureau of Statistics Data
In 2012-13, donations, bequests and legacies from households in Australia amounted to approximately $4 billion, based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data.
In 2012-13, donations from businesses in Australia amounted to approximately over $850 million, based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data.
Australian Taxation Office Data
The following analysis is sourced from 'An Examination of Tax Deductible Donations Made By Individual Australian Taxpayers in 2012-13', prepared by Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes and Marie Crittall at the Queensland University of Technology, which can be accessed here.
The total amount donated and claimed as tax-deductible donations in 2012-13 was $2.29 billion (compared to $2.24 billion for the previous income year). This constitutes an increase of $51 million from the previous income year.
The average tax-deductible donation made to DGRs and claimed by Australian taxpayers in 2012-13 was $504.02 (compared to $494.25 in the previous income year). This average amount has nearly trebled in the last decade.
In 2012-13, 4.55 million Australian taxpayers (or 35.60% of the Australian taxpaying population) made and claimed tax-deductible donations. This has flat lined since the previous year where 35.62% or 4.54 million taxpayers made and claimed a gift.
On average, those individual taxpayers who make tax-deductible donations to DGRs donate approximately 0.32% of their taxable income. This has fallen slightly from 0.33% in 2011-12 and 0.42% in 2007-08.
Comparisons are difficult, because other countries measure charitable donations in different ways (amounts given per taxpayer, per head or per household, for example) and use different income years. However, estimates generally indicate that Australians give slightly less than the UK and Canada, and significantly less than the US.
We believe the oldest philanthropic foundation in Australia to be the Wyatt Benevolent Institution, established in 1881 and based in Adelaide, South Australia.
Overall, there is considerable scope to improve the data available on philanthropy in Australia, so it is more up to date and comprehensive, and so that it better reflects the complexity of philanthropy and the variety of giving sources and vehicles.
In 2015, the Australian Government has commissioned a major research project to better understand how, why and how much Australians give to charity. Giving Australia 2015, which is an initiative of the Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership, will provide very useful and valuable data on philanthropy once it is complete.
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