‘COVID-inspired commitment to better outcomes must continue’: report

Fri, 24 Mar 2023

Philanthropy Australia worked closely with members throughout COVID-19 to shape the sector’s response to the crisis and is now pleased to publish our latest findings on the effectiveness of that work and the sector’s overall response. The report, Insights from Australian Philanthropy’s Response to the COVID-19 Crisis, is now available online.  

The purpose of the report was to review member survey results and document broader trends in philanthropy during the crisis. The report sought to identify whether shifts in practice due to the pandemic may embed themselves in the medium to long-term in order to inform Philanthropy Australia’s broader work to promote ongoing best practice and the evolution of the sector.

Jack Heath, Philanthropy Australia CEO, says: “The pandemic was a seismic challenge for our sector, like many others. Australian charities faced a surge in demand for services that supported the community, while often dealing with disruptions to services and an impacted funding pipeline.

“We would like to thank the Nunn Dimos Foundation for funding this report. The crisis focused our minds like nothing else and our philanthropic community quickly zeroed in on better practices on an impressive number of fronts. The reflections offered in this report provide a vital opportunity to take those learnings into the future because better practice means better outcomes for all.”

Key findings include:

  • Demand surged, while supply capabilities were crunched (around 70% of respondents saw an increase in demand as a challenge for fund-seekers, while more than 80% of surveyed funders experienced a decline in their corpus funding assets)
  • There was increased grant making (60% were able to maintain or increase funding levels, and by 2020-21, 51% had increased their giving compared to the previous year)
  • There was also a drop in some grant-making – almost a fifth of the respondents decreased 2020-21 distributions by more than 6%
  • Many respondents did not maintain practices they made in response to COVID-19 but there was one clear change – a growing interest in advocacy
  • The number of private ancillary funds (PAFs) has been growing with 88 new PAFs established in 2019-20, followed by a 36% annual increase in 2020-21 with 120 new PAFs
  • Findings from in-depth interviews highlight the importance of long-term equitable funding in infrastructure and resilience.

The report contains an abundance of learnings, insights and statistical data. As always, Philanthropy Australia urges members to engage with the outcomes and we look forward to discussing them with a view to inspiring more and better philanthropy.