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Australians Are Donating Less To Charity

Australian Charities Would Befit Hugely If People Left Bequests

Despite Australia ranking as the sixth most generous country in the world, it would appear Aussies themselves are making far fewer donations to charity. According to a recent report, Australian charities are coming to depend more on membership fees and user-pays services to generate income. Donations have dropped by roughly $1 billion during 2016, falling from $11.2 billion to $10.5 billion according to the Australian Charities Report 2016.

Overall revenue rises

Despite the fact that donations have declined, funds raised by Australian charities actually rose to $142.8 billion in the last year. Approximately half of all revenue was produced through membership fees and user-pays services. 43 per cent of revenue were generated by government grants and contract payments whilst donations were responsible for just 7.3 per cent of income during the time period.

Donations remain a significant source of income

According to the ACCC 26 per cent of all charities depended on donations for more than half their total income during 2015. Despite the decline in donations, there are over 50,000 charities in Australia and donation revenue remains a significant source of income. The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission says the decline in donation is not the result of street collectors which many people find annoying. So called chuggers may well have even contributed to a rise in revenue through membership additions.

Education providers generate the most income

The ACNC said it was sure that total revenue had risen but so far has not been able to determine by how much because of new reporting procedures that small charities must follow since the previous 2015 report was released. The charitable organisations with the largest revenue were those that provided educational services, including universities, and non-government schools. The group comprises 18.6 per cent of all charities but generated 45 per cent of the entire sector’s total income.

Aussies are still incredible generous

Whilst donations did fall the report also found that the number of volunteers had increased to a high of 2.9 million. Murray Baird ACNC’s acting commissioner says that Australians are still very generous and that his agency hoped that this Christmas their generosity was on full display.  According to last year’s World Giving Index, Australia was ranked sixth, behind Myanmar, Indonesia, Kenya, New Zealand and the United States.

"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."

Oxfam Australia Says Government Needs To Crack Down On Tax Avoidance

Tax Avoidance

Oxfam Australia says that in the wake of the publication of the Paradise Papers, the country should create a global blacklist of tax havens and crack down on people and companies that use them. The aid agency says the extremely wealthy are robbing the poorest people in the world of much needed tax revenues and this can be avoided if countries such as Australia take concrete steps towards tax reform.

The Paradise Papers

The Paradise Papers revealed the offshore financial affairs of some of the wealthiest people and biggest multinationals in the world. Dr Helen Szoke chief executive of Oxfam Australia says tax evasion by multinationals in Australia was costing billions of dollars and making the global inequality crisis worse. The aid agency says that international tax reforms have simply not worked. One estimate suggests that global multinationals artificially shifts 45 per cent of profits to low or no tax havens.

Tax avoidance costs billions

According to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) multinationals managed to avoid as much as $2.5 billion in taxes during the 2014-2015 financial year. ATO data shows that large corporations reported $1.5 trillion in gross income during that time frame and paid roughly $41 billion in tax. From this information the ATO was able to estimate the gap between what should be paid and what is actually paid if all companies were fully compliant. The figure was put at $2.5 billion or 5.8 per cent of total tax payable.

Reforms required

Andrew Leigh a treasury spokesperson for the labor party says that his party agrees that immediate action must be taken by the government in order shut down tax loopholes. The labor party unveiled a number of tax policies earlier in the year which would force companies to reveal tax haven risks to their investors. A public register of beneficial ownership would need to be established and the total amount of funds transferred overseas from Australia would need to be published.

More transparency needed

Mr Leigh says his party’s policies would deliver more transparency because listed companies would be required to inform their investors about tax haven dealings. Secondly, companies wishing to participate in a government tender would be forced to reveal their country of domicile and there would be a public register showing whom the owners of Australian based companies really are. Multinationals would also be required to publicly report how much tax they pay in each jurisdiction they operate in.

"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."

Australian Charities Fight Back Against Government Proposals To Limit Advocacy

Juvenile Detention

Australian aid agencies and charities have combined forces to fight against proposed government regulation that will limit their ability to campaign for policy changes. The coalition passed a strongly worded motion during a conference that was meant to kick start their agitation against the proposal.  In the coming weeks legislation is expected to be introduced in parliament that would either limit or outright ban the use of foreign donations for advocacy in Australia.

Banning foreign donations

The decision to introduce such legislation was made following a parliamentary report which investigated the Federal election in 2016 and suggested that foreign donations should be banned not just to political parties, but also to so called “associated entities and third parties”. This is a broad definition which could include any organisation or charity that seeks to advocate for policy changes in Australia. The Federal Treasury is also conducting its own inquiry which proposes to limit how much advocacy environmental groups and other charities can engage in.

Charities unanimous in their opposition

The Treasury has proposed that environmental groups must be mandated to spend as much as half of their funding on remediation instead of campaigning. During the annual general meeting of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFiD) a motion was unanimously passed calling on the government to drop any regulations they may impose on the kind of advocacy charities can engage in or how much money they are entitled to receive from foreign donors.

Government should support the role of civil society not constrain it

WWF Australia chief executive Dermot O’ Gorman moved for the motion which was then seconded by Oxfam Australia chief executive Helen Szoke. The motion passed unanimously by all the members which include organisations ranging from the Australian Red Cross, Save the Children, the Salvation Army and medical colleges. The motion urges the Australian government to use its position as a member of the UN Human Rights Council to support the role of civil society and to defend against increased erosions of civic space in other countries all over the world.

Freedom of expression under threat

Mr O’Gorman says the proposed regulations come at time when freedom of expression for civil society all over the world is increasingly being threatened. He adds that his organisation has been extremely concerned by developments over the last few months where vested interests such as the Minerals Council of Australia is seeking to enshrine these regulations in to law in order constrain civil society for financial gain.

Government trying to silence opposition

Richard Di Natale leader of the Greens says his party will use its numbers in the Senate in order to ensure that charities remain exempt from any ban imposed on foreign donations. He adds that it is quite obvious that the Turnbull government is attempting to silence civil society and that its proposed legislation is an indictment on a government that refuses to tolerate criticism.

"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."

Caritas Australia Participating In Joint Appeal For Rohingya Refugee Crisis

Rohingya Refugees

Caritas Australia says it is pleased that Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop made the announcement that there would be a joint emergency appeal launched by Australia’s leading aid agencies to help with the crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Eight of Australia’s largest aid agencies have come together to plea for urgent funding to finance aid to nearly a million people that have been forced to flee the violence taking place in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

Nearly a million refugees have fled

Since the end of August more than half a million people who identify as being Rohingya have fled to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. Most of the refugees are women and children. These refugees joined a further 200,000 that were already in Bangladesh. The refugees desperately need food, shelter, blankets, drinking water, sanitation and health care.  The appeal which has the support of the ABC will see the Australian Government matching donations made to the Australian Red Cross and UNHCR up to $5 million. The government is also coordinating with other agencies including Caritas to form a response to the crisis.

Donations will save lives

Paul O’Callaghan Caritas Australia chief executive says he fully supports Ms Bishop’s efforts to motivate Australians. He says that this kind of support will deliver life-saving aid for the hundreds of thousands of people that have been affected by the crisis and are in desperate need. Caritas Bangladesh is already heavily involved in delivering aid and has responded by providing food items such as lentils, salt, sugar, cooking oil and basic utensils. So far 29,000 families have received supplies from the agency.

Fears of a cholera outbreak

Francis Atul Sarker who is an executive director with Caritas Bangladesh says the agency has managed to reach about one-third of the new arrivals in the country, however that is not satisfactory and much more help is required. He says there is the constant threat of an outbreak of an epidemic because people are living in squalor without access to clean water or sanitation. This means an outbreak of cholera could quite easily occur.

 

"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."

Australian Woman Proves That Ordinary People Can Make A Global Difference

charity

Melody Towns lives by the adage that ordinary Australians can make a huge difference in the world. Six years ago, the mother from Sanford established a charity that sought to raise funds and awareness about human trafficking. Every year since then, the charity has managed to double its reach and significantly increase the money it raises. The charity which is called Be Her started off with a team of just ten people comprising friends of Mrs Towns. Now the charity has 300 volunteers spread throughout the country.

Raising awareness

Mrs Towns says that people have begun to understand the issue and feel they must do something about it. Be Her is raising awareness nationwide about human trafficking and empowering ordinary Australians to use what they have to make a difference she adds. During the most recent charity event held in Hobart, over 1,000 women attended making it a sell-out. There are more events planned in New South Wales and Queensland.

Nominated for an award

Next year Mrs Towns intends to hold more Be Her Freedom awareness events in Perth, Sydney and Brisbane. Rather unsurprisingly organising all these events has become a full-time job for Mrs Towns, and what is remarkable is she doesn’t take a penny for any of the work she does. As a result, Mrs Towns has been nominated for the Pride of Australia award in recognition for her selflessness.

Shocked into action

Mrs Towns says she first learned about the millions of women and children who become forced into sexual slavery around the world after she attended a conference organised by international aid agency A21. She says the conference was a revelation and shocked her into doing something about it. She recently travelled to Cambodia to see for herself the tragic situation some girls and women find themselves in. She said she saw girls as young as eight who have been sexually exploited which she said was extremely confronting.

Issue resonates with women

Be Her Freedom events seek to attract the attention of women who Mrs Towns says the issue of human trafficking resonates the most with. She says that most women at some point during their lives have felt a sense of vulnerability. It is this empathy that Mrs Towns believes is the reason why the number of volunteers at her charity has grown across the country and attracted so many sponsors who have provided support. She said so many people have been generous, that everyone should be getting an award.

"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."

Caritas Australia Urges Government To Do More About Climate Change

climate change

Eri from Kiribati aged 28 and father of three visited Australia recently to educate Australians about what is going on in his country. Following his visit to Australia, he attended the UN climate summit in Germany to make sure that he and his compatriots had their voices heard when it comes to determining the future of climate policy. Eri says the prospect of forced relocation as a result of climate change is very real and very grim.

Australia needs to play a far greater global role

He says that each year he and his wife talk about having to leave the country because sea levels are rising. However, the couple and their children feel that Kiribati is their home, it is the language they speak and the traditions and culture that that they honour which they don’t want to lose. Eri is Caritas Australia’s ambassador for climate change in the Pacific and is using is position to urge the Australian government to play a far greater role in the global shift to a clean energy future which would mean making a commitment to not opening any new coal mines.

Rising sea levels wreaking havoc

The Caritas State of the Environment for Oceania report which was recently released shows that havoc has been wreaked on people’s lives because of the rise in sea levels combined with food and water shortages as well as extreme weather events. Negaya Chorley of Caritas Australia says that climate change is entrenching poverty and inequality across the pacific. The aid agency of the Catholic church is urging the Australian government to follow the example set by many Pacific Island nations who have adopted some of the strongest renewable energy targets in the world.

Australia is totally unprepared for the future

Ms Chorley says that Australia is wholly unprepared for what is to come. She adds that tens of thousands of people are likely to be made homeless as a result of climate change and there is no comprehensive government policy in place that will adequately deal with climate change and tackle its consequences. Ms Chorley says that Australia needs to be far more proactive and strategic in its long-term planning when it comes to this issue.

"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."

Three Things We Should Know About Australian Generosity

charity

Every year the tax authorities delivers revealing insights into the generosity of Australians courtesy of a report titled Taxation Statistics which details every deduction made by individual tax payers claiming charitable donations. Whilst the report does not detail every contribution made towards a good cause it is an extremely rigorous study of the country’s altruism. Here are three takeaways from the latest ATO report.

1. Individuals don’t give away a very big share of income

According to analysis of the most recent tax data undertaken by Queensland University of Technology, during the 2014-15 financial year, tax-deductible donations made by individuals climbed to a record high of $3.1 billion. Whilst that is a lot of money, unfortunately the share of income that is being donated is falling. On average individual taxpayer donations made up just 0.4 per cent of their taxable income which is lower than what it was prior to the Global Financial Crisis.

 2. Charities depend heavily on the super rich

There is an elite group of taxpayers comprising just 6,600 people with annual incomes exceeding $1 million who made more than 20 per cent of all tax-deductible donations during 2014-15. This is obviously down to the fact that wealthier people have more discretion to give. Despite this fact, high income earners, i.e. those earning $180,000 or more per year are more sensitive to gyrations in the stock market and economic shocks than other income groups. So it comes as no surprise that tax-deductible charitable donations slumped in the aftermath of the financial crisis and has never really recovered.

3. Even so, the rich don’t necessarily donate the biggest share of their incomes

What is truly surprising is that middle and low-income neighbourhoods tend to outshine wealthier people when it comes to the proportion of income that people are donating. The NAB Charitable Giving Index shows that people who live in the suburbs and have modest incomes donate the biggest share of their income. The latest tax figures suggest that approximately 40 per cent of those earning over $1 million in taxable income claimed no tax deductions whatsoever during 2014-15. It is shocking to learn that people with that kind of income do not claim anything, particularly when they are the type of people who keep their receipts or have someone do it for them.

"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."

JB Hi-Fi Helping Hands Workplace Giving Program Benefits The Company’s Bottom Line

Charity Image

Richard Murray, CEO of JB Hi-Fi  isn’t talking about quarterly profits, instead he is discussing what he considers to be one his greatest achievements as leader of the retailer which has managed to deliver for its investors over the last 15 years despite huge shifts in the retail environment. Mr Murray prefers to talk about running one of the most engaged Workplace Giving programs in Australia which is known as “Helping Hands”. The program is so successful that nearly 80 per cent of JB employees donate to charity from every pay packet.

6000 employees participate

Every week over 6000 JB Hi-Fi employees including senior executives donate part of their pay to one of nine charity partners and those donations are matched dollar for dollar by the company. Mr Murray believes Helping Hands has made a meaningful difference to the company’s bottom line. He believes in the project so much that he has commissioned research to prove his thesis.

Credible business case for charitable giving

The Australian Charities Fund which is the brains, driver and thought leader when it comes to Workplace Giving (WPG) or pre-tax payroll giving in Australia is collaborating with JB Hi-Fi to prove there is a credible business case for promoting Workplace Giving. The non-profit is seeking to establish which metrics can be used to show the bottom-line benefits for employers to embrace the policy as a fundamental part of their overall community contribution.

Engaging employees

Mr Murray who is the chairperson of the Australian Charities Fund Employer Leadership Group says the business case for his company and other business leaders is that everyone is attempting to engage with their employees in authentic and meaningful ways. He adds that the millennial generation has high expectations of themselves, the community and their employers. Mr Murray says that because Workplace Giving is so transparent, it is a choice made by the individual that ticks a lot of boxes.

Employees prefer working for ethical companies

Jenny Geddes, chief executive of the Australian Charities Foundation says the first stage of the organisation’s research project found that Workplace Giving resulted in an employee base that is more engaged. The research also suggests that young Australians, millennials in particular prefer to work for ethical companies, or companies who seek to have a positive impact on the world.

Important to be proud of giving

Ms Geddes says now is really the right time for this because a younger group of leaders are beginning to establish themselves. She adds that philanthropy tends to be an extremely private thing and continues to do so. People really tend to shun any publicity associated with it, however when it is a giving program that includes all employees, it is important to be part of it and proud of the fact.

"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."

British Rugby Player To Run More Than 1000 Miles Across Australia For Chairty

Charity Image

A former player with the York rugby team is preparing to run more than one thousand miles across Australia in order to raise money for charity. Robbie Dolan has played for both rugby teams in York as well as for Huddersfield and Bedford where he currently plays. Mr Dolan has timed his charity run to coincide with this year’s Rugby World Cup and will run between Melbourne and Brisbane over a period of 42 days and cover a distance of 1,118 miles whilst carrying a rugby ball. Mr Dolan calls the charity challenge, “The Longest Try”.

Financial sponsorship has been difficult to obtain

Mr Dolan says he has attempted to obtain a financial sponsor but has been unable to do so, which means he will foot most of the bill for the endeavour. Some sponsors have been drip feeding his funds but thanks to many generous donations made, Mr Dolan has been able to train in the UK and is able to afford a motorhome that his girlfriend will drive in order to support him on his run.

Individuals have made generous donations

Mr Dolan says he is very grateful because to purchase a motorhome would have cost thousands of dollars and to rent it for the time necessary would not have been much cheaper. The donation has saved him a lot of cash and has made the trip financially possible. Mr Dolan says he has been partnering with a cartographer in New South Wales in order to work out which would be the best route for his journey and he is also trying to drum up interest in the Australian media.

Carrying a vintage rugby ball

Mr Dolan says he has picked out a vintage leather rugby ball that dates back to the 1950’s that he will carry whilst he is on his run as tribute to his grandfather. He will also be running in memory of his grandmother who passed away whilst he was in Australia in 2016 on a scouting trip. Mr Dolan said the main reason he got in to rugby league was because of his grandfather so he says it will be nice to hold a ball like the one he used to play with.

Raising money for both British and Australian charities

Mr Dolan will be raising money for The Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity which provides assistance to children with life-changing disease. He will also donate part of the proceeds of the run to The Children’s Tumour Foundation of Australia as well as the Miracle Babies Foundation.

"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."

Man Treks Thousands Of Kilometres Across The Desert To Raise Money For Caritas Australia

Caritas Logo

How many people who walk thousands of kilometres across the African desert by themselves with nothing more than an iPod and football for company? Very few of us would every think about attempting such a feat. However, that is exactly what Matt Napier an adventurer from Canberra did to raise money for Caritas Australia.

Helping people who live in poverty

Mr Napier trekked thousands of kilometres to raise money to help people who are living in poverty. He walked for 1,900 kilometres across the Namib Desert and started the trek in Southern Namibia and finished his journey in Angola. Mr Napier said he had to deal with 250 metre sand dunes along the way as well as handle wildlife threats from animals such as lions. Isolation was another difficult Mr Napier had to deal with. Fortunately for him, his wife Wendy played a supporting role. Mrs Napier drove a backup vehicle, prepared meals and treated her husband’s blisters when they appeared.

More than $20,000 donated

Mr Napier is donating more than $20,000 raised by the walk to help support Caritas Australia’s Integrated Community Development program in Zimbabwe.  The program which lasts for three years will provide assistance to some of the most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe by giving them access to clean water and sanitation as well as engender food security.

Giving back feels good

Mr Napier said that giving back makes him and his wife feel much better on the inside as individuals. He adds that he believes as individuals where we are born should not matter and everyone should be given all the basics in life. This means they should have access to food, water, shelter, healthcare and education. Mr Napier concludes by saying the trek was an opportunity for him to make a difference.

"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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