The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies has highlighted some interesting statistics on Australians’ charitable giving.

  • In 2007-08 (the most recent year for their research), the average tax-deductible donation made and claimed by Australian taxpayers was $523.10. This average amount has nearly trebled in the last decade.
  • In 2007-08, 4.48 million taxpayers (or 35.47% of the taxpaying population) made and claimed tax-deductible donations.
  • On average, those individual taxpayers who make tax-deductible donations donate approximately 0.43% of their taxable income.

This report, based on Australian Taxation Office data, does not include donations to organisations which are not deductible gift recipients, e.g. churches or charity events. So we do not have a complete picture here, as many individuals might also contribute to charity events, raffles, or other fundraisers.

Even with that in mind, contrast Australians’ charitable giving to their spending on other items. In his book Promoting The Gospel (2005), Christian writer John Dickson observed:

On a weekly basis… Australian households spend on average $4.44 on charitable giving. The average Australian spends more each week on confectionery ($8.10 on chips, chocolate and ice-cream alone); quite a bit more on pets ($9.18); more again on cigarettes ($11.55); three and a half times more on beer and wine ($15.58); and nearly ten times more on restaurant and takeaway meals ($42.10).

Churches and giving

According to the 2006 National Church Life Survey regarding Protestant churches:

  • The first group with the highest rates of giving (tithing a tenth or more) include Seventh-day Adventist (66%) and Pentecostal attenders (62%).
  • The second group, with around 30% to 46% of attenders who tithe, includes the Baptist, Churches of Christ, and Salvation Army denominations among others.
  • The third group, which includes the Anglican, Lutheran, and Uniting churches, has around 14% to 18% who give a tenth or more of their income.
  • Thirty-three percent of the individuals surveyed said they give 10% or more of net income regularly.
  • Thirty-six percent said they gave less than 5% of net income, or a small amount.

In a more detailed NCLS survey of 2500 participants:

  • Fifty-one percent of the individuals gave between $11 and $60 per week to their church.
  • Twenty-one percent gave over $60 per week, and 23 percent gave less than $10 per week.

Most Australians could give more money to charitable causes. As Christians, we too should evaluate our spending. Dickson asks some pointed questions:

Would I spend as much on the work of evangelism as I would on my CD collection, movie/theatre tickets, sporting events and other weekend outings? Do the missionaries I know get as big a slice of my income as my local restaurants, takeaway joints, bottle shop or cafe? If not, why not? What possible reason could there be for not matching my expenditure on ‘luxuries’ with expenditure on my ‘partnership in the gospel’?

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About Ben Kwok

Ben is part of a church plant team establishing the Rouse Hill Church. He holds a Master of Divinity degree. Ben and his wife Diahanna live in Sydney, Australia with their four young children.

One Comment

  1. Greg 23 March, 2011 at 8:20 am

    I think the big problem that is being faced at the moment in terms of charitable giving (and I am including churches in this) is HOW the money is then being used. One church I was once involved in had trouble paying for their parking lot on their new church (which I can see as a reasonable expense) but WAS able to put in a top-of-the-line sound system and air conditioning in their new building before asking for more donations. I use this example but most charitable organisations are the same (look at the research charities that then pay their executive staff to go to overseas conferences).

    I think a greater promotion of a different kind of charity will increase these numbers. Missionaries (at least a few that I can think of) are great for this because you can talk to the person who is USING the money for the people directly and I find most can be trusted to use the money properly.

    Even better, go out and spend the money yourself on local charitable things. Average full time wage in Australia is currently about $65k/yr (taken from ABS website)so a single average Christian could pay the college expenses of a training missionary (if they support that kind of thing), provide one hell of a bbq at the local skate-park for the myriad of youth on the street (I mean over a grand a week to do that is insane) or get a few of you together to pay for a life-saving operation for someone?

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