2019 most reputable charities revealed


Australians value services to rural Australia highest; 2019 Charity Reputation Index shows

Essential services provided to remote and rural Australia continue to be highly valued by people across the country, with an annual study showing CareFlight and the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia are our two most reputable charities.

The study – conducted each year by the global Reputation Institute (RI) – shows that CareFlight rose one place in overall rankings to take out line honours (after debuting third in 2017), while the Royal Flying Doctors took second place after ranking first for eight years in a row.

The Australian Charity Reputation Index (RepTrak®) surveys Australians to measure the overall reputation of the country’s 40 largest charities and ranks them using a scoring system that includes measures of trust, admiration, respect and overall esteem.

The measurement also includes a range of dimensions such as Services, Innovation, Workplace, Citizenship, Governance, Leadership and Cost Management. It has been run by RI in Australia since 2011.

RI Managing Director Oliver Freedman said while Royal Flying Doctors slipped to second place, its overall reputation and that of new leader CareFlight remain extremely strong in the eyes of all Australians.

“The latest results show that not only do Australians view these organisations positively because of the outstanding essential service they provide, but also for having good Cost Management, plus strong Citizenship and Governance – all important drivers of reputation,” he explained.

CareFlight CEO Mick Frewen said to be recognised as the most reputable charity in Australia was a fantastic reflection of just how hard the organisation had been working to help even more Australians with its rescue helicopters, turbo prop aircraft and jet air ambulances.

“This great honour is recognition of all the work our medical teams and flight operations teams are doing every day in urban, remote and regional areas to save lives, speed recovery and serve the community. As an organisation dedicated first and foremost to delivering on our social purpose, it’s rewarding to know the community we serve have placed such trust in CareFlight.”

Freedman said Guide Dogs again ranked third in this year’s Index, with CanTeen showing the strongest improvement in rankings, jumping 16 places to rank fourth overall.

CanTeen slipped to 20th last year after debuting at 8th in 2017. However, its overall reputation was still strong despite that fall. The lift seen this year was mainly due to how well Australians view its Citizenship and Innovation, and that its brand is seen in public during various fundraising activities.

“CanTeen’s improvement is a great example of how important it is for the charitable sector to clearly demonstrate the positive effect its work is having on the community.”

The Fred Hollows Foundation also saw strong improvement this year; rising 10 places to rank fifth overall. This also signified a recovery for the charity’s reputation; it ranked 6th overall in 2017 but fell last year. Freedman said greater awareness of the Foundation’s work and a more positive view of its Services and Innovation drove the recovery.

While there were small shifts in overall rankings among those charities dealing in the mental health services area, several are now ranked in similar positions; Headspace at 14th, Beyond Blue at 15th and Lifeline at 17th. Freedman said this may indicate while each are providing important services, and have high awareness among Australians, consumers may not clearly differentiate between the three charity brands.

CARE Australia saw the largest fall in overall reputation in this year’s rankings, dropping 10 places overall to rank 38th. UNICEF Australia fell four places to take last place in the rankings at 40th.

Similarly, other global charities operating in Australia also ranked low on this year’s Index, with Greenpeace Australia ranking 39th, World Vision Australia 37th, Oxfam 36th and Amnesty International ranking 34th overall. Freedman explained: “It appears that Australians still have greater levels of trust, admiration and respect for charities perceived as local than those with a more global footprint, even if those global organisations are doing good community work.

“However, this appears to be unique to the charity space; Australians still view corporations with a global association very positively, with Air NZ, Samsung and Toyota having our country’s strongest Corporate Reputations despite not having local headquarters.”

However, Freedman said the overall reputation of Australia’s charities is still stronger than our corporate sector.

“25 of the 40 charities in our annual study still have better reputation scores than the best rated corporation in Australia, which as of November this year was Air New Zealand.”

“There is no doubt that Australia’s charitable sector was facing challenges to its overall reputation a few years ago. However, most organisations have worked to rebuild as stronger and more reputable. In particular, many charities are now seen as particularly Innovative, with good Leadership, Governance and Cost Management; attributes usually associated with the corporate world. Teamed with a better ability to communicate the community benefits of its work, it’s no surprise that the Charity sector of Australia is the most trusted in the country.”




Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia



Guide Dogs


No Change




The Fred Hollows Foundation



St John Ambulance



Ronald McDonald House Charities



Camp Quality



Surf Life Saving Foundation



National Breast Cancer Foundation



Starlight Children’s Foundation



McGrath Foundation



Make-A-Wish Australia



Headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation



Beyond Blue



Médecins Sans Frontières Australia (Doctors Without Borders)



Lifeline Australia



Leukaemia Foundation of Australia



Diabetes Australia






National Heart Foundation of Australia



Australian Red Cross Society



The Movember Foundation



Cancer Council



The Smith Family


No Change

St Vincent de Paul Society



Wesley Mission



The Salvation Army



World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)



Vision Australia



Mission Australia



YMCA Australia



Save the Children Australia



Amnesty International Australia


No Change

Yourtown (previously known as BoysTown)



Oxfam Australia



World Vision Australia



CARE Australia



Greenpeace Australia Pacific



UNICEF Australia



Data was collected from November 1 to 20, 2019. A total of 9,820 respondents were interviewed as part of the study, who were nationally representative by age and gender. The total survey results were weighted to the general population using several demographic variables.

with AAP


Maryanne Murray December 5, 2020 - 6:12 am

I find this survey absolutely and utterly incredible. It demonstrates that Australians are insular and inward looking; one might even say smug and uncaring about people around the world who are suffering horrendously. It it an example of why Australians will not act on climate change if it will cost them even a tiny bit; while millions are suffering from our profligate use of fossil fuels and our enormous intake of meat whilst others starve or go hungry. This survey means nothing; for example Breast cancer research has more money than it can use while other cancer research is starved of funds. It simply demonstrates how ill-informed and uncaring many Australians are. I am very depressed by this survey

Paulo Rizal December 8, 2020 - 5:52 am

Hi Maryanne​​​​​​​​. Thank you for your sharing your view on this. We encourage all kinds of opinions. Please feel free to email a commentary at tseditorial@thirdsector.com.com

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