Australia has over 43,000 charities which support the diverse communities and needs of our growing population. Not-for-profits are core to our society yet, societal shifts, demographic changes and generational donor transitions are shaping a different giving landscape.
Not-for-profit leaders today are tasked with the challenge of doing more with less.
Leaders are working to solve complex societal challenges with limited time, money and resources. All the while navigating a global pandemic, digital disruption and a changing giving landscape.
With a growing number of not-for-profits in Australia, it is increasingly important to understand the psyche of the Australian giver to increase awareness and donor engagement.
Australians are increasingly opportunity givers
While the proportion of Australians giving remains consistent (81% in 2021, 82% in 2020), the way in which they give continues to change. Australian givers are most likely to be need responders, giving when they hear about a need or an issue (39%) followed by semi regularly throughout the year (25%), and when they are approached for a donation or support (22%). Just 15% of givers contribute on a frequent or regular basis.
In recent years, the ‘need responders’ have been rising steadily (16 pp in four years). This year, however, there has been a slight decrease (7 pp) in need responders. It seems these givers are now more likely to give when they are approached for a donation or support, which has risen by six percentage points. These two options combined, however, highlight that Australian givers are more likely to be opportunity givers than committed givers (60% opportunity cf. 40% committed).
Younger generations driving the rise in opportunity givers
Gen Z (78%) and Gen Y (66%) are the most likely to be opportunity givers, significantly more so than their older counterparts. Older Australians are more balanced in their approach with 57% of Gen X being opportunity givers and 43% being committed givers. The older the giver gets the more likely they are to be a committed giver (59% Builders cf. 22% Gen Z).
A question for not-for-profit leaders to ask themselves is, with givers becoming increasingly opportunity rather than committed givers, is your organisation giving multiple opportunities throughout the year for givers to engage with or support your cause?
Australians highly motivated to give to medical and cancer research
It is unsurprising, with the rise in opportunity givers, that Australians are most motivated to give money to or volunteer for the topical issues of the time. With the global pandemic at the forefront of many minds, 45% are motivated to give to organisations associated with medical and cancer research. This makes medical and cancer research the most popular cause to support in 2021, overtaking disaster response in Australia, which was ranked number one in 2020 largely due to the 2019/2020 summer bushfires (disaster response is now ranked 4th).
Children’s charities (2nd) and animal welfare and wildlife (3rd) continue to be areas Australian givers are highly motivated to support.
The rise in giving to domestic and family violence causes
Interestingly, domestic and family violence and mental health have both seen a shift in their ranking since 2020. Domestic and family violence rose from 11th in 2020 to 7th in 2021, and mental health rose by one rank to 5th. This may also be due to the pandemic and associated lockdowns, where mental health and domestic violence have both been highlighted in public discussion.
Younger Australian givers are driving the rise in motivation to give to domestic family violence and mental health. Gen Z (36%) and Gen Y (35%) are twice as likely as Builders (15%) to support organisations associated with domestic or family violence. Similarly, almost half of Gen Z givers (49%) are highly motivated to support mental health alongside 37% of Gen Y and 35% Gen X. Baby Boomers (26%) and Builders (13%) are much less likely to be motivated to support organisations associated with mental health.
Future-proofing your fundraising strategy
Our research consistently shows that Australians give to causes that are relevant to their age and life stage. Relying on legacy donors and committed givers to be loyal to your cause is, however, no longer enough to future proof your organisation. Now more than ever it is important to have a diversified fundraising strategy that engages donors in a way that is appropriate to their age and life stage. The way in which Australians give is changing, and this impacts the causes they support. To not just future proof but thrive in the days ahead, it is essential for not-for-profit leaders to take the time to understand their donor base, investigate their brand awareness and provide ways to engage with their organisation that reflect the changing giving behaviour of Australians.