The statistics and data below reflect the most up to date research currently available to giving in Australia. This page was last updated in September 2020.
The following data is based only on the tax-deductible giving claimed by Australian taxpayers in 2017-18. This represents only a subset of all giving, as not all donations can be or have been deducted from income tax. However, the data is utilised because it provides more detailed insights on particular giving trends which other data is unable to provide.
Are more individual taxpayers making donations?
In 2017-18 4.43 million individual taxpayers claimed a total of $3.75 billion as tax-deductible donations, compared with 4.52 million claiming $3.48 billion in 2016-17. This is consistent with trends over the last decade that show a smaller proportion of Australians are giving, but they are giving larger amounts.
There is little difference in the amount of tax-deductible giving between male and female Australian taxpayers. In 2017-18 male taxpayers donated more in monetary terms than female taxpayers but when expressed as a percentage of their respective taxable incomes, females donated at a higher rate. More females also claimed a tax-deductable donation compared to males.
In 2017-18 New South Wales taxpayers made and claimed the largest amount of tax-deductible donations to DGR charities. Taxpayers residing in the Australian Capital Territory had the highest percentage of taxpayers claiming a tax-deductible gift, along with the greatest median donation.
Western Australia had the highest average donation, well above the national average of $845.73 and a 23.52% increase for the state average since 2016-17. This jump is largely due to an increase in donations from one postcode (6011, Cottesloe, Peppermint Grove), which had an average tax-deductible donation of $203,006.74. When this postcode is removed from the WA figures, the average donation drops significantly to $523.51.
For the 8th year running police were the most generous occupation, with 73.42% of individuals giving, followed by Machine Operators and School Principals. The highest average deductions were claimed by CEOs and Managing Directors, followed by Barristers and medical practitioners.
Individuals, families, communities or businesses can make larger charitable donations over a longer period by establishing a philanthropic structure. Read here for further details relating to the different types of philanthropic structures in Australia.
Grantmaking from ‘structured philanthropy’ (Private Ancillary Funds, Public Ancillary Funds and Charitable Trusts) was $1.528 billion in 2016.
Private Ancillary Funds – There were 1,667 PAFs as of November 2018. In 2017-18, PAFs held $7.2 billion in assets and made grants of $394.43 million.
Public Ancillary Funds – There were 1,344 PuAFs as of November 2018. In 2017-18, PuAFs held $3.48 billion in assets and made grants of just under $395 million.
Charitable Trusts – In 2016 there were 2,005 funds, holding assets of $7.7 billion, making grants of $507 million.
Sub-funds – In 2017-18 there were at least 1,995 sub-funds in Australia, holding assets of just over $1 billion and distributing just over $57 million through 6,304 grants.
Australia's biggest foundation is the Paul Ramsay Foundation, based in Sydney. The Foundation was established by Paul Ramsay AO in 2006 and has continued since his death in 2014 with his generous bequest. The core ambition of the Foundation is a commitment to help break the cycle of disadvantage in Australia.
Australia's oldest foundation is the Wyatt Trust, based in Adelaide. The Trust was established in 1886 through the Will of Dr William Wyatt, and it provides opportunities to South Australians experiencing hardship.
Australian business may give money (66% of their total giving), goods (17% of their total giving) or services (18% of their total giving).
In 2015-16 businesses gave $17.5 billion, which comprised:
Larger companies tend to give more than small companies.
For more information about business giving in Australia, see the Giving Australia 2016 fact sheet.
Australians also give plenty of money outside of simply tax-deductible donations, although this is harder to measure as the ATO does not record a donation unless a tax deduction is made.
The most recent comprehensive study into overall giving behaviours was undertaken in 2016. An estimated 14.9 million Australian adults (80.8%) gave in total $12.5 billion to charities and NFP organisations over the 2015-16 financial year. The average donation was $764.08 and the median donation was $200.
Charities have three primary income sources – government, giving and other income/revenue (which includes income from memberships, sales and investments). Around 1 in 4 charities depend on giving and philanthropy for 50% or more of their total revenue. Smaller charities tend to depend on giving and philanthropy for a higher proportion of their income compared to larger charities.
In 2018, the ACNC reported an increase in donations and bequests of $600 million, up 6% from the year before.
Funders: The Pace Foundation, with The NR Peace & Justice Fund, Lenko Family Foundation, Melliodora Fund, (a sub-fund of the Australian Communities Foundation), Sarah Brenan, (Hamer Family Fund), The Mullum Trust, Vicki Olsson.
For-purpose: Beyond Zero Foundation
Award partner: Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network
Explore the latest events from the sector