Philanthropy and COVID-19

Click here for full COVID-19 resources

Australia’s charitable sector was hit hard by the global pandemic. At a time where charities and social services are being relied upon more than ever, the economic downturn has mean that giving as a as Australians tighten their purse strings, putting unprecedented financial stress on the sector.

Philanthropy Australia is working closely with our members, the Government and sector leaders, as we traverse the unprecedented challenges presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Philanthropy Australia is working closely with our members, government, and key sector leaders to support charities and not-for-profits during this difficult time, and ensure that they are able to continue to provide essential services and employment for over 1.2 million Australians.

We have compiled information, resources and ideas to support funders and not-for-profits through COVID-19 and the recovery period. Among other initiatives, we’ve launched a free National Funding Platform alongside the Australian Communities Foundation that allows for charities to register their funding needs and for funders to offer targeted support where it is needed most. We’ve also released a series of COVID-19 Government Policy Recommendations that we are urging political leaders to adopt to provide extra relief to the charitable sector.

This compilation will continue to evolve as the situation does and we encourage members of our community to share resources. Please share any other helpful resources or websites with us by emailing

Philanthropy Australia’s COVID-19 Government Policy Recommendations – strengthening giving during this critical time  

Like many elements of our economy, Australia’s not-for-profit sector has been hit hard by COVID-19. With thousands of job losses in a sector that contributes more than 8% of Australia’s GDP these losses are impacting on the critical work that charities are delivering in the community.  

The requirement for more and better philanthropy has never been more profound, especially after the recent catastrophic bushfires. Philanthropy has a critical role to play in helping to address the challenges of COVID-19 and supporting charities and our communities to build back better in recovery. 

Although giving will be hit by the economic impacts of COVID-19, estimated to fall 20% over this and next financial year according to JBWere analysis, Australian philanthropy is determined to step up and respond to this unparalleled challenge. 

To strengthen the role that philanthropy can play to tackle COVID-19 Philanthropy Australia has released five policy recommendations for the Federal Government:  

  • No changes to the regulatory minimum distribution requirements for ancillary funds and the provision of credits for funds who ‘over distribute’ by at least 4% over the next two financial years, with these credits able to be used to reduce minimum distributions in subsequent financial years 
  • Provide a 150% tax deduction for any donations to Item 1 DGR charities during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years 
  • Work with philanthropy to establish an NFP Loans Fund to support viable charities to both get through COVID-19 and to rebuild back better in recovery by supporting the establishment of innovative service delivery models and new income streams
  • Work with philanthropy to launch a matched giving Item 1 DGR flow through Grants Pool to provide discretionary grants to support charities overhead costs to keep them afloat and deliver their work during the crisis 
  • Decrease to 15% the eligibility threshold for charities to access the JobKeeper payment  

Philanthropy Australia appreciates the ongoing collaborative dialogue we are having with the Assistant Minister for Charities and the Federal Government over ways we can support the work of the not-for-profit sector and encourage giving during this time of immense need. 

How is Australian Philanthropy responding to COVID-19? 

The Australian philanthropic sector has committed to acting with urgency and purpose to support the Australian community through COVID-19, with the release of a new public statement from Philanthropy Australia.

The Snow Foundation, The Myer Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund, and Macquarie Group Foundation, have joined with fifteen other Australian Trusts, Foundations and philanthropic funders as initial signatories to Australian Philanthropy’s Response to the COVID-19 Crisis. This number is expected to grow in the coming days and weeks.

The statement recognises the need for the Australian philanthropic community to take decisive, principled action to support grantees and partners who are dealing with the evolving challenges of the coronavirus. 

By signing on the statement, Australian philanthropic funders have signalled they will adapt eleven key principles within their own funding context to support grantees and partners through this uncertain and challenging time.

Philanthropy Australia CEO, Sarah Davies, said the statement reflects philanthropy’s critical role in supporting the not-for-profit sector and broader community through the unparalleled health and economic crisis.

“The economic realities of COVID-19 are threatening the existence of not-for-profit organisations and charities from all different corners of the sector,” Ms Davies said.

“The not-for-profit sector provides fundamental support and services to millions of Australians, and the work they do is essential to our collective health and wellbeing.

“There has never been a more significant time for the philanthropic sector to step up and forward together, to support our grantees and our partners to continue to operate, deliver services and sustain our communities as we work through these challenges together.”

Philanthropy Australia Co-Chairs Amanda Miller and Ann Johnson said the public statement provides a robust framework for funders during these difficult times. 

“Philanthropy finds itself confronting an unprecedented challenge during this health crisis. It demands a compassionate and strategic response that enables the organisations we support to continue their vital work,” Ms Miller and Ms Johnson said.

“This statement provides a framework for action and a clear direction that we believe responds to the urgency of the situation we all face.“                                

“There has never been a more important time for philanthropy to unite in a collective response that gives certainty and flexibility to organisations who are struggling to deal with the crisis,” Ms Miller and Ms Johnson said.  

“We know that only by providing a range of ways to support these organisations now will they be there on the other side of the crisis when they will become integral to rebuilding so many of our communities.”

Australian Philanthropy’s Response to the COVID-19 Crisis statement can be viewed here.

You can add your voice to the statement here


COVID-19 National Funding Platform

We've partnered with the Australian Communities Foundation to provide a free online COVID-19 granting platform for Australia.

This online platform allows charities to register their funding needs and enables philanthropic funders to understand the granting opportunities available to respond to the critical needs of the sector during COVID-19. Access the National Funding Platform here.   


How it works: Funders 


Click on the ‘Granting Opportunities’ link to browse current opportunities on the platform.


You can use the ‘Focus Areas’ filtering tool to narrow your search down to COVID-19 related projects. You can also filter by location, target population or keyword.

To fund a project, please contact us on or call 03 9412 0412.

While you can fund a project by contacting the not-for-profit organisation directly, we would appreciate if you could still let us know when you have done so. This will help us track the progress of funding requests on the platform and know when an opportunity has been fulfilled.


How it works: Fund seekers

Register your funding needs by clicking the ‘Seeking Funding’ link and completing the form.

Once submitted, we will complete due diligence on your funding proposal and come back to you when the form has been processed.

Proposals meeting the correct criteria will then be listed on the COVID-19 Funding Platform Granting Opportunities register and be searchable by the public and prospective funders.

Funder COVID-19 Response Survey

The global COVID-19 pandemic is impacting us all in different ways. To help us better understand the effects of coronavirus on our sector, in April and May we ran a short survey to find out how the evolving health crisis is influencing the work of our Funder members.

The survey of 101 grant-makers reveals that 88% of respondents have already moved fast to change how they support the community by increasing flexibility (72%), untying restricted funding (48%), increasing financial grant support (42%) and establishing dedicated COVID-19 grant programs (32%).

The survey reveals that 40% of trusts and foundations have opened up new grant opportunities, beyond their regular programs, to communities and organisations needing immediate relief and recovery funding.

The general outlook for the charitable sector is deeply concerning: many charities are seeing significant revenue reduction whilst demand is rising. The survey findings show that many Australian philanthropists are increasing their giving during this critical time: 38% of survey respondents are increasing their total grant distributions this financial year (by an average of 20%) and 22% are already saying they will further increase their giving in FY2020-21.

Philanthropy Australia CEO Sarah Davies thanked all the members who shared their actions and thinking by taking part in the survey. She hailed the contribution of the community of funders who by working together and sharing their knowledge, built their collective expertise, tools and practice to become such good operators.

“You are so inspiring; the evidence is in the data: you are smart, strategic, flexible and generous,’’ she said. “This community works closely together and the collaboration and collective response is extraordinary.  If we can encourage more philanthropy and giving, and see it channelled in this way, our communities will be so much the better for it.’’

Full survey results here.

In May, Philanthropy Australia released the results of a survey of Australia's leading philanthropic trusts and foundations funding response to COVID-19.

To develop a broader, ongoing understanding of philanthropy's response to the pandemic, we conducted a follow-up survey last month, the results of which show that philanthropy has continued its rapid, generous and flexible response.

Notably, 81% of respondents changed or adapted their funding, 47% shifted to unrestricted grants, 63% established new COVID-19 programs and 46% are considering longer-term changes to their grantmaking practices.

Full follow-up survey results here.

Resources: For Funders

Official COVID-19 Information for Funders and Business 


Australian Resources

International Resources

Resources: For NFP's and Fund Seekers 

Official COVID-19 Information for NFPs 
NFP Business and Financial Resources
Legal, Governance and Director Resources
Communication and Community Resources
Funding and Fundraising Resources
HR, Employer and Employee Resources
Technology and IT Support Resources
Other resources

Health and Mapping Resources 

Australian and State Government Health Resources

Mental Health Resources 

Membership Services

  • At Philanthropy Australia, the safety and wellbeing of our team and community are our highest priority. PA offices are closed as we follow government guidelines and requirements around social distancing and reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The team can be contacted by phone and email. 

  • National Member Peer Networks are continuing as planned and being delivered digitally.




Philanthropy Australia has compiled this resource list for information purposes. Inclusion on the list does not indicate endorsement of a particular organisation by Philanthropy Australia. The list is by no means exhaustive. Links to other sites are provided in good faith and do not constitute endorsement of material at those sites. 


To submit a COVID-19 resource, event or article, please email



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