Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Australians give more than ever before as support for families and communities tops $11 billion

New research shows Australians are giving more money and volunteering more than ever before with individual giving rising 88 per cent and business donations doubling as part of an $11 billion a year contribution.

Launching the Giving Australia report at the International Philanthropy Conference, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said she was heartened by the fact that the Howard Government’s strong economic management was being reflected by mounting generosity from the Australian community.

“The findings reveal that our nation’s generosity is being boosted both by the strong economy and the Howard Government’s support for philanthropy, including through implementation of a suite of taxation measures to provide a national taxation framework conducive to encouraging philanthropy by individuals, families and businesses,” Senator Patterson said.

“The Giving Australia report shows that the giving of money, goods and services by individuals and business in 2004 reached an estimated $11 billion, not including the estimated $300 million donated to the Asian Tsunami appeals.

“This report shows that 87 per cent of all adult Australians, 13.4 million people, donated an average $424 last year as part of a total $7.7 billion in donations from individuals.

“The direct monetary contribution by individuals, $5.7 billion last year, was up 88 per cent from $3 billion donated in 1997, which was the last time a survey of giving by individuals was conducted.

“An additional $2 billion was provided by 10.5 million Australians who lent their support by participating in raffles, lotteries and other fund-raising events.

“The report also shows that while people in Sydney and Melbourne contribute almost half of all financial donations, Adelaide has the highest giving rate with donations from more than 90 per cent of adults.

“Giving Australia has also revealed a significant increase in corporate giving with more than 525,000 businesses, which is 67 per cent of all businesses, donating $3.3 billion in money, goods and services during 2003-04.

“Business contribution has more than doubled since a business giving survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2000-2001 reported $1.5 billion in business donations.

“At the same time we have seen a 16 per cent increase in the number of hours donated by volunteers since a 2000 ABS survey, with 41 per cent of adult Australians providing 836 million hours of help.

“This report is the most comprehensive survey ever of the contributions made in money and time by Australian individuals and businesses with more than 10,000 people contributing to the quantitative and qualitative research.

“It gives unique insights into why people and business give and how they can be encouraged to give more through initiatives such as Workplace Giving Australia, an initiative of the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnerships.

“I recently launched Workplace Giving Australia, which provides employees with the opportunity to make regular donations to eligible charitable organisations through payroll deductions.

“The report also shows that the overall upward trend in giving and volunteering is more pronounced than in comparable overseas countries. While monetary giving in the United States is about double the Australian level, a significantly higher proportion of Australians volunteer than in the US.

“I am pleased that the report acknowledges the significant efforts by the Australian Government in implementing a number of measures to strengthen the sector, including through taxation reform to provide incentives to individuals and businesses, as well as other initiatives aimed at encouraging and promoting individual and corporate social responsibility.

“The Government welcomes this report which was coordinated by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) in collaboration with the University of Technology in Sydney, the Queensland University of Technology and private sector bodies.

“This report not only gives us the most comprehensive data ever on Australian giving it will also have a major impact on future efforts to further boost this nation’s inspirational levels of generosity.”