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Policy Priorities for a Post COVID-19 Australia

August 19th, 2020

As Australia’s charitable sector grapples with the significant and long-term impacts of COVID-19, Australia’s peak body for philanthropy is calling for changes to encourage more and better giving.

Philanthropy Australia has today released key policy priority recommendations to encourage increased support and stimulate giving to help the charitable sector survive the pandemic and to build back better in the post COVID-19 environment.

Philanthropy Australia’s ‘Policy Priorities for a Post COVID-19 Australia’ calls on the Australian Government to implement two urgent actions to address the immediate and ongoing impact of the pandemic on charities and giving:

  • Establishing a specalised not-for-profit loan fund, in partnership with philanthropy; and
  • Implementing a temporary increased charitable gift deduction

Establishing a $1 billion not-for-profit loan fund in partnership with philanthropy would deliver working capital in the form of low-cost loans, providing an important new source of support for charities to help them sustain themselves during COVID-19 and beyond.

Implementing a temporary increased charitable gift deduction would help support and maintain giving at this critical time, when the charitable sector is experiencing a reduction in donations and an increase in demand for the services.

Philanthropy Australia Chief Executive Officer, Sarah Davies, said there has never been a more pressing need to incentivise and stimulate philanthropic and charitable giving to support charities.

“Charities are vital contributors to Australia, with the charitable sector providing critical frontline essential services and community support, employing a significant 10% of Australia’s workforce and representing 8% of GDP. The sector has been hit incredibly hard by the pandemic, and we know that it will still be some time before the COVID-19 health and economic crisis is over,” Ms Davies said.

“Australian philanthropy has acted swiftly and with purpose over the past five months to support the charitable sector through this difficult and evolving public crisis, and has welcomed the Government’s early supports for charities and increased giving – but there is still much more that needs to be done, and that must be done.

“This is about supporting and stimulating private giving to support charities and the communities they serve. As well as providing direct support through JobKeeper and increased grant support to meet growing demand for immediate response services, the Government can help create the right incentives and environment to nurture and encourage private giving – especially at this very challenging time – and keep up the flow of donations to charities,” she explained.

“By implementing these two priority recommendations now, the Government can help mitigate the devastating impact of the pandemic on charities, and the communities they support.”

In addition to these two urgent actions, Philanthropy Australia’s ‘Policy Priorities for a Post-COVID-19 Australia’ sets out 7 key additional policy reforms to support giving and charities to build back better and continue to provide crucial support and services to the community in a post COVID-19 Australia:

  • Introducing a Living Legacy Trust Structure to grow bequest giving
  • Growing legacy giving from superannuation
  • Launching a National Giving Campaign to build Australia’s culture of giving
  • Supporting the Social Impact Investing Taskforce recommendations
  • Fixing Australia’s complex and outdated fundraising laws
  • Cutting red tape for Community Foundations
  • Reforming Australia’s Deductible Gift Recipient framework

Philanthropy Australia is also calling on the Government to commit to retaining what works: maintaining existing refundable franking credit arrangements, maintaining the existing uncapped tax deduction for donations to deductible gift recipients, preserving an effective and responsive ACNC, and protecting advocacy by charities.

The full ‘Policy Priorities for a Post COVID-19 Australia’ document, along with a summary version, is available here

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International Philanthropy Award 2020 recipients

Funder: Accenture (Australia and New Zealand)

For-purpose: Good Return

Award partners: Australian International Development Network and the Australian Council for International Development 

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