Australia Needs To Develop A Culture Of Giving

Australian Charities Would Befit Hugely If People Left Bequests

Australia likes to think of itself as a generous country, and in many measures for most ordinary Aussies, this is true. However, when the tax data of high net worth individuals was looked at, that is those people who have a taxable income exceeding $1 million, four in ten of those tax payers made zero tax deductions during the 2014-2015 financial year.

Australia should be more like the United States

Wendy Sciafe, who is director of the Australian Centre for Philanthropy Non-Pofit Studies at QUT says she would like Australia to become more like the United States and develop a culture where donating to charity is normal and there is a strong giving culture. Ms Sciafe says in the United States, if you are not donating to charity then you are seen as being a little bit weird.

Australia is very egalitarian

She adds that the two main factors that contribute to America’s strong philanthropic culture are traditions of asking and celebrating wealth. Australia is quite different, Australians tend to eschew celebrating their wealth and are reluctant to ask. In that regard Australia is far more egalitarian than the United States.

So how much time and money do we give?

According to the Giving Australia 2016 report 8.7 million people gave 932 hours of their time at charities and non-profits. During the same period of time $11.2 billion was donated to charity by 14.9 million people or 80.8 per cent of the adult population. The average donation in 2016 was $746 or about one per cent of the average Australian income.

Australians can easily afford to give more

Ms Scaife makes the point that we spend $200 million on Easter eggs and $13.6 billion at Christmas which means most Australians can easily afford to donate more money. This does make you pause and think that since most Australians are doing okay, we really could raise our sights. A decade ago, 87 per cent of Australian adults donated $5.7 billion which in 2016 terms is about $7.5 billion. Today there are fewer Australians giving money to charity but those that do are actually giving much more. This reflects the level of inequality in Australia today.

Lack of trust

Another major reason for the decline in the number of people donating to charity is simply a lack of trust. Many people are worried that their money will be used to purchase a flashy car for the charity’s leader which in actual fact, that rarely occurs. Most non-profits are very big organisations that are extremely complex and therefore need extremely qualified leaders to run them. However, people have the expectation that these organisations should be led and run by volunteers. This is simply unrealistic. Its just not possible to work without computers and the people to deliver the services and money is needed for infrastructure.

"Please note, any prices mentioned in the Charity Gifts blog are correct at the time of posting. Please check the relevant website for the latest pricing information."

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