The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented change across societies, nations, and the globe. It has been a time of increased volatility and disruption which has been incredibly challenging for many charities/not-for-profits. To adapt to survive, organisations have needed to rethink how they engage their donors, asking themselves the question of how to get cut through with messaging and engage with a donor who themselves is experiencing turbulent times.

12 months on from the start of the pandemic, how have Australian giving habits changed?

Amidst these challenging circumstances, the rate of giving among Australians has remained steady with four in five Australians (81%) giving financially to charities/not-for-profits. Three in four Australians (74%) give at least yearly while just one in five (20%) do not give financially to charities/not-for-profit organisations. These results are consistent with previous years, highlighting charitable giving in Australia remains strong and stable.

Australian givers also continue to support charities/not-for-profits through donating goods (60%), volunteering (30%) and fundraising/promoting for a specific charity (21%) or advocating and raising awareness of a specific issue or cause (18%).

Are financial contributions decreasing due to the pandemic?

Our 2020 Australian Communities study found that if givers were to experience hardship, more than half (54%) believed the frequency and amount of their giving would decline. Many Australians experienced hardship in 2020, yet recent giving has largely stayed the same (49%) or has even increased for one in five (21%). Three in ten Australian givers (30%) have, however, decreased their giving over the past few months.

Looking to the end of 2021, almost one in four givers (23%) expect their giving to increase, while half (53%) believe it will stay the same. The challenge is, however, that one in four givers (24%) expect their giving until the end of 2021 will decrease. While the overarching story is positive, with at least 70% of givers expecting their contributions to remain the same or increase, this increase does not necessarily cover the expected decrease.

Not all generations have been affected equally

Generation X is the most likely to have decreased their recent charitable giving. More than a third of Gen X givers (36%) have decreased their giving compared to one in four Gen Z (23%). This is significant as Generation X are in their key earning years and often have a higher average donation amount than Gen Z.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for organisations and individuals alike. A positive that has emerged, however, is the public perception of charities/ not-for-profits, which has been strengthened among Australian givers. In keeping with the community mindedness and spirit of mateship that the pandemic fostered in Australia through phrases like ‘all in this together’, nine in ten givers (90%) are proud of how Australian charities/not-for-profits have rallied to help those in need in Australia during 2020.

Australian givers are not just proud of Australian charities/not-for-profits but appreciate them more too. More than four in five givers (85%) believe the events of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic have made them appreciate the role charities/not-for-profits play in society more. The pandemic has also shone a light on needs within the community, with 80% of givers more aware of the needs in their community since COVID-19.

While the road ahead for charities/not-for-profits may still be rocky as they look to engage with individuals who are also going through challenging personal circumstances, the appreciation of the role charities/not-for-profits play in society has been strengthened. Despite some givers expecting their giving to the end of 2021 to decrease slightly, there is a greater awareness of need in their community. Alongside this is an appreciation of charities and pride in how Australia’s not-for-profit sector has rallied to help those in need during this time.

Download the Australian Communities 2020 report