6 Responses

  1. Patrick Kilby
    Patrick Kilby March 17, 2014 at 8:25 am

    A more interesting figure is how stable donations to international NGOs has been over the past 50 years (adjusted to size of economy) being about 0.03% of GNI, based on ACFID reporting figures.

    On Lukes ‘giving’ figure the 13% is 13% of what. The Industry Commission report of the mid-1990s had international NGOs as being about 40% of the total, but that was for charity (note domestic charities get very high amounts of government funding, much higher than international charities) . I think the 13% figure includes religious donations, sporting donations, and a lot of non-charity stuff.

  2. Stephen Howes
    Stephen Howes March 16, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Just further on your point, Garth, the 2005 survey you mention has household giving to international development NGOs at $758 million (13.3% of $5.7 billion) for 2004, excluding the Tsunami response. But reported donations by Australian international development NGOs prior to the Tsunami are about $400 million (see our first blog: http://devpolicy.org/the-other-scale-up-australian-public-donations-for-development-over-the-last-decade-20130829/), including donations from business. This does suggest a lot of over-reporting of our generosity in that 2005 survey.

    1. Garth Luke
      Garth Luke March 16, 2014 at 9:10 pm

      You might be right Stephen – certainly the ‘real time” household expenditure survey should be the more accurate – although it still seems very unlikely to me that aid NGOs are receiving 40% of the charitable dollar when you think of all those health, sporting, environment, indigenous and domestic antipoverty charities plus unis and private schools.

      Also I don’t want to believe that our nation spends more on stationery than on giving to charities (an average of $4.42 compared with $4.26 per household per week in 2010) . Maybe it is all those letters saying “Don’t send me any more requests for money I will give when I can.”

    2. Garth Luke
      Garth Luke April 3, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      You might be right about people forgetting their generosity Stephen.

      As far as I can tell the Household Expenditure Survey asks people to record expenditure in a diary during a two week period based on the date they were first contacted by ABS. If the period covered did not cover a peak giving time eg just before the end of the financial year, then it is likely that donations would be undercounted. ABS does also ask respondents about big infrequent expenditure over the previous 12 months eg household appliances, car insurance but I don’t think they prompt for charitable giving.

      In addition people may also be forgetting to diarise regular automatic bank or credit card payments.

  3. Stephen Howes
    Stephen Howes March 14, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Thanks Garth. I wasn’t aware of that report. You are right, 40% does seem high and $2 billion low. I’m sure part of the explanation is the difference between asking people how much they give as part of a much broader survey of their spending patterns, and asking people how much they give as part of a survey of giving. In the latter, respondents might exaggerate how much they gave; in the former, they might give more accurate answers, or perhaps they forget how generous they are?

  4. Garth Luke
    Garth Luke March 14, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    I think it is unlikely that 40% of private charitable donations are going to international aid, given the wide range of other types of charity and the understandable priority of giving close to home. The 2005 Giving Australia report, probably the most comprehensive analysis to date of Australian charitable giving, estimated [pdf] that donations to international aid made up around 13% of total private giving – that seems more likely to me. That report also said that $5.7 bn was contributed by individuals to charities (including religious groups) in that year. While one cause of this higher total is the inclusion of religious groups, I suspect that there are significant differences in methodology between the Household Expenditure Survey and the Giving Australia survey.

    While the ubiquity of large screen TVs, BMWs, pricey schools and overseas holidays amongst Australians suggest that we are probably not as generous as we think we are, I can’t believe we are so stingy we only give $2 bn a year to all charities.

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