Each week, churches collect an offering; it is a practical expression of one’s personal faith to support the work of the church, as well as supporting local and global community initiatives and projects.
In the community, more than 80% of adult Australians contribute to charities and non-profit organisations. The statistics from 2015-16 show that $12.5 billion was given (up from 4.7 billion a decade ago). The average donation of $764.08 was up too in real terms, by $210.16.
Interestingly, the percentage of people donating dipped from 87% to 80% over the same period. The decreasing giving participation rate is a concerning trend that needs to be monitored. Annual data on tax-deductible donations tells a similar story, underlining the concern about a flatlining future for Australian charities if fewer people donate.
Some Australians are doubly generous, giving their time and their dollars. Those who both gave and volunteered donated nearly twice as much on average as givers who did not volunteer ($1,017.11 compared to $536.69). An estimated 43.7% of Australians volunteered an average of 2.5 hours a week, and a median of 55 hours over the year. This was up from 44 hours in 2005. (We are very grateful for the many people at Pilgrim who volunteer their time so generously).
More than 60% of charitable donations are given on the spur of the moment. Others consider, plan and deliberate about their giving. Some sign up to give in a sustained way month by month. Others might sit with their children and plan what donations they will make as a family in the year ahead. On average, these “planner donors” donate six times as much in a year as the impulse donor.
Nearly three-quarters of donations are focused on social services, education and research, health, culture and recreation, and development and housing. Practical support for the welfare of others, and a contribution to human flourishing – rather than allowing disadvantage to be the defining force in a person’s life. The impact of giving is immense in more than dollar terms, both for the recipient and for the giver.
(excerpts from How Australians are giving to charity by Alyx Williams published in 2015-16)
As a nation, the issue of foreign aid can be contentious. In 2016, a survey of ordinary Aussies by the Campaign for Australian Aid found that most people believed the Australian Government was spending about 13% of our total budget on foreign aid. “Way too high!” the people shrieked. “What about those in need here in Australia? The homeless? Our elderly?”
Fair enough. 13% is quite a lot… So if it were left up them, what did most people think was a reasonable percentage to spend on foreign aid? On average? Most people thought around 10% of the Australian budget would be fair to spend on foreign aid.
There’s a massive black hole between public perception and reality in the debate about Australian aid. Average Australians regularly state we give ‘too much’ to foreign aid. Those same people think we should give ‘about 10%’.
Australia actually gives much less than 1% of its budget to foreign aid and its getting less every year.
As a nation we give only 22 cents in every hundred dollars to life-saving vaccines, providing clean water and vital medical assistance.
Yet even such a tiny amount is helping make some stunning progress toward overcoming poverty.
So how can you help create the change we need to see on this issue?
Join the Campaign For Australian Aid here and let your local politicians know that you care about supporting our neighbours to lift themselves out of poverty. It’s good for all of us.
Donate your own money to projects that are supported by the Australian Government’s aid program. This lets the Australian Government know you support well-administered, accountable aid. Right now, the Australian Government wants to know what you think of UnitingWorld, a Uniting Church agency. They’re prepared to support UnitingWorld with significant funding, but they want to know you’ll back UnitingWorld with your own money first. For every $5 they make available to UnitingWorld through Australian Aid Funding, UnitingWorld needs to match the support with a donation of at least $1. This is a big opportunity to show the Australian Government you care about Australian Aid funding and want to see it increased, and will allow UnitingWorld to make each donation go up to six times as far this end of financial year.
Time to take the pulse on generosity to see how we’re doing!