Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

The Story Behind Australia’s Generosity

¬†Early experiences in giving to charity organisations play a key role in shaping adult giving behaviour according to preliminary findings of new Howard Government research into the nation’s philanthropy, Giving Australia: Research on Philanthropy in Australia.

Minister for Family and Community Services and Deputy Chair of the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership, Senator Kay Patterson said the new research also showed there was a strong expectation by businesses in rural and urban Australia that they should support their community.

“The early findings from this major project, initiated by the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership, reveal the importance of parents and schools in shaping a giving culture,” Senator Patterson said.

“Parents and schools are teaching children important life values through giving activities. All children should be made aware of the importance of contributing to the good of their community, both locally and globally.

“This project will give us a deeper insight into giving behaviours and attitudes and help guide us in the development of an even more generous and civic-minded culture. Preliminary findings include:

  • Early life experience important for giving. Early experiences in giving, especially in the family and at school are important in shaping an adult’s giving behaviour.
  • Trust is important and may be declining. Trust in the charity or nonprofit sector for potential donors was highlighted as being important: trust that the money is going where charities say it is and trust that money will not be wasted on what is considered unnecessary expenses.
  • ‘Giving stress’: requests for giving cannot always be met. Givers are feeling overwhelmed with the number of organisations asking for their money and they feel bad that they cannot support them all.
  • Givers don’t like aggressive marketing. Givers are feeling intruded upon by non-government organisations: they all detest what they perceive to be aggressive and pushy attempts to get donations.
  • Spontaneous and convenient giving preferred over planned giving. Givers want to give ‘from the heart’ when touched by a story or experience: planned giving removes their capacity to respond.

“The Government has introduced major taxation reforms to facilitate increased giving from business, individuals and families and it continues to support volunteering.

“The Government has also provided seed funding to a peak organisation, Nonprofit Australia Ltd, which will assist the sector in building capacity, transparency and accountability. We strongly support philanthropy in Australia and are continually looking at ways to improve it.

“The advice we are getting in this project from those surveyed including individuals, small and large businesses and nonprofit organisations will help ensure that the whole community can benefit.”

The research was conducted between August and December 2004 and represents about half of the total number of focus groups and interviews to be conducted through the project.

The research is being conducted by The PRDC – a consortium comprising the Australian Council of Social Service (the lead agency); Queensland University of Technology – Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies; University of Technology Sydney – Centre for Australian Community Organisations and Management; Roy Morgan Research; McNair Ingenuity Research Pty Ltd; and the Australian Fundraising Institute.

A copy of the Summary of Preliminary Qualitative Findings, is available from the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership website