Have Australians lost
trust in Australian based charities?

A Send Money Australia study December 2022

During and after the 2019-20 Australian bushfires, generous individuals and
businesses across the world donated hundreds of millions of dollars
collectively to the cause. 

In the weeks and months afterwards, some charities were criticised for being too slow to distribute funds. The funds have now been distributed, but the community anger at the time prompted a governmental inquiry into the handling of donations, with its review reporting a “significant gap between public expectation of how bushfire donations should be spent and how rapidly the money could be distributed.”[1].

[1] Australian Government, Bushfire response review. 2020. https://www.acnc.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2021-07/bushfire_response_2019-20_-_reviews_of_three_australian_charities.pdf

About the study

Send Money Australia commissioned a survey of 1009 Australians to gauge whether the community had lost some trust in how donations are distributed in Australia, following the bushfires. Respondents were asked to specify if they had lost trust in Australian-based charities and if they would be more likely to donate to overseas causes as a result. Respondents could select from the following causes they would redirect their funds to instead:

Hunger and malnutrition.
Infectious diseases.
Refugees and those impacted by war.
Human trafficking.
Sustainability and environmental causes.
Clean water and sanitization.
Other causes.

The survey respondents cover a geographical and population spread that is reflective of the Australian population.

Have Australians lost trust in Australian-based charities in the last two years?

Send Money Australia found that 59 per cent of Australians have lost some faith in
Australian-based charities over the last two years following the bushfires.

By age.

Older Australians are more likely to have lose trust in Australian-based charities in the last two years: 62 per cent of over-55s said they had lost trust, followed by 58 per cent of under-35s and 56 per cent of 35-54-year-olds.

By state.

Across the major States, a higher proportion of Queenslanders (68 per cent) have lost trust in local charities, followed by 61 per cent of Victorians, an equal 56 per cent of NSW and West Australian residents and 50 per cent of South Australians.

Would Australians be more likely to donate to overseas causes in future, and for which causes?

Send Money Australia also sought to discover whether lost trust in charities would push Australians to donate to international causes in the future and found that 58 per cent of Australians would be more likely to do so. When asked which overseas causes would attract their donation dollars, more than one quarter (29 per cent) said they would donate to charities that work to eradicate hunger and malnutrition. This was followed by 27 per cent who would support war-related victims such as refugees, 25 per cent for clean water and sanitisation, 23 per cent for sustainability and environment, an equal 21 per cent for human trafficking and infectious diseases, and 6 per cent for other causes.

By age.

While older Australians are the group most likely to have lost trust in Australian-based charities, they are the most loyal to home-grown initiatives, with 55 per cent of this age group unwilling to move their money to international causes. This was followed by 40 per cent of 35-54-year-olds and 25 per cent of 18-34-year-olds who also would not donate to overseas causes in future. Younger Australians are more likely to donate to charities that fight to eradicate hunger and malnutrition by a significant margin: 52 per cent of under-35s, compared with 30 per cent of 35-54-year-olds and 20 per cent of over-55s. Australians aged 35-54 are most interested in donating to refugees and other war-related causes: 56 per cent of this age group would donate to this cause, compared with 43 per cent of under-35s and 19 per cent of over-55s.

By state.

Send Money Australia compared responses across the major States. It found Victorians are most likely to shift donations to overseas causes in future: 61 per cent chose this cause, compared with an equal 58 per cent of NSW and West Australian residents, 56 per cent of Queenslanders and 54 per cent of South Australian residents.

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