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Latest ACNC data shows a robust Australian charity sector pre-COVID-19

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charity sector regulator ACNC

The latest official data shows Australia’s charity sector was robust immediately prior to the advent of COVID and the 2020 bushfires, employing 11% of Australia’s workforce and generating revenue of $166 billion.

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) today released its annual sector analysis in the seventh edition of the Australian Charities Report. It analysed the most current data available, submitted to the regulator by more than 48,000 charities in their 2019 Annual Information Statements.

The report shows charities employed 1.38 million people and sector revenue grew by 6.8% compared with the previous year. Government funding accounted for $78.1 billion, an increase of $4.4 billion. ACNC Commissioner Dr Gary Johns said there was also a $1.3 billion rise in donations, a testament to public confidence in the work charities do. He said the report sets an important benchmark.

“This comprehensive analysis of the data sets the benchmark for our future understanding of the significance of the COVID-19 pandemic and the catastrophic 2020 bushfires. These major events are likely to have affected the sector and we will have a clearer picture of that in our next annual data analysis,” Dr Johns said.

“The data certainly indicates that up until the end of 2019, immediately prior to COVID and in the lead up to the summer bushfires, the charity sector was robust, with increases in revenue of $10.5 billion and in assets of more than $30 billion compared with the previous year. Overall, charities operated at a surplus, supported by substantial assets,” he said.

Dr Johns also mentioned that about half of the not-for-profit sector’s expenditure went to paying employees, although 51% of charities operated without salaried staff and releid on volunteer work.

Charities distributed $7.2 billion in grants and donations within Australia, up 27% on the previous year, and distributed just under $2 billion overseas, a 20% increase. As charities’ financial years vary, this edition of the Australian Charities Report comprises information from charities with a financial year between 1 July 2018 and 31 December 2019.

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