Giving Facts

The not-for-profit sector is vast and diverse covering everything from your local tennis club to some of the biggest universities in Australia. We've scoured the most up-to-date data to bring you the most comprehensive snapshot of charities and giving in Australia in this super-charged infographic.

While there are 43,349 charities registered with the ACNC, there are more than 600,000 other not-for-profits without charitable status doing good for the community. We don’t have their data but we know they are out there and chances are you or someone you know is involved with or has benefitted from a community organisation. In fact, over 65% of Australians belong to one or more not-for-profits.

The data used in our super infographic reflects what we do know based on ACNC data and the Queensland University of University of Technology’s Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS) research, specifically from this paper


charities registered in 2018


in total income


with DGR status

Charity breakdown by size

Funding the Sector

When we think of how charities and other not-for-profit organisations are funded, we generally think of donations. In reality, donations only make up a relatively small percentage of charity revenue. Revenue from Government is the primary source of funding followed by revenue from goods and services. However, the smaller the charity the more likely it is to depend on donations for its income.

Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status is an absolute boon for those organisations which hold it. It means that a donor can claim any donations to that organisation as a tax deduction. In an example of one of the many paradoxes of the not-for-profit sector, the bigger the organisation the more likely it is to have DGR status, so even though the big guns depend less on the goodwill of the community, they are more likely to get it because they can offer the donor a useful receipt at tax time.

This section includes financial information from Basic Religious Charities that voluntarily reported finances, as well as charities that did not engage in activities in the 2018 reporting year but reported their finances.

Percentage of charities with DGR by size

Total Revenue ($150.4b) by charity size

Revenue sources by charity size ($m)

Top earners by ACNC category

Largest Charities by Revenue 2018

In terms of which individual charities have the highest revenue, those focussed on education are definitely the most cashed-up.

Charities that received the highest donations and bequests 2018

The list of charities which received the highest donations and bequests tells a different story with people more likely to donate towards health-related or social causes.

Types of Not-for-profits

While much of the data we have is for charities only, not-for-profits come in many other shapes and forms. To help us understand what is out there we turn to CLASSIE, a landmark Our Community Innovation Lab initiative that enables systematic classification of social sector initiatives and entities: a social sector taxonomy for Australia and New Zealand.

Click here to learn more about CLASSIE

Unincorporated Association

Not recognised as a separate legal entity to the members associated with it. It is a group of people who agree ot act together as an organisation and form an association.

Incorporated Association

Incorporated under the state or territory legislation in which they operate. An incorporated association is a legal entity separate from its individual members.


A type of entity (incorporated under the Cooperatives Act in its home state) which exists for the benefit of its members.

Company Limited by Guarantee

"Limited by guarantee" means that the liability of the company's members is limited to the amount the members undertake to contribute to the property of the company if it is wound up. The rules of the not-for-profit company will set this amount at zero.

Indigenous Corporation, Association or Cooperative

Not-for-profit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations can apply to be registered with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC).

Organisation established through specific legislation

An executive agency, or statutory agency, established as a statutory authority providing them with some degree of independence from the government without being an NGO.


An obligation imposed on a person or other entity (the trustee) to hold property for the benefit of beneficiaries or for a particular purpose.

Philanthropic Trust

A trust is a philanthropic trust if it is established for a charitable purpose.

Public Ancillary Fund

A legal trust which has been endorsed by the Australian Tax Office as conforming to its Ancillary Fund Guidelines. The public must be able to contribute to the fund.

Private Ancillary Fund

A legal trust which has been endorsed by the Australian Tax Office as conforming to its Ancillary Fund Guidelines.

Classification of Social Sector Initiatives and Entities

Agriculture, fisheries & forestry

Animal welfare

Arts and culture

Community development

Economic development




Human rights

Human services

Information and communications

International relations

Public affairs

Public safety



Social sciences

Sport and recreation

Unknown or not classified

Working in the Sector

We are a big sector employing a huge number of Australians, but we also attract an even huger number of volunteers who devote their time and skills to help the hundreds of thousands of not-for-profits in the community. Rememeber that the figures below ONLY reflect the charities registered with the ACNC.

With the exception of the extra large charities, all charities reported more volunteers than paid staff.






of all charities operate without any paid staff

Employee and volunteer breakdown by charity size

Number of volunteers for each staff member by charity size

Who Gives?

We have looked at what's out there in the not-for-profit world and which organisations are the biggest and richest and who works for the sector, but it's time to turn out eyes to who gives to the sector. Who is more likely to put their hand in their pocket? Where do they live? What do they do?

Source: 2016-17 QUT report

Australians deducted over


as tax deductible donations (2016-17)

The average donation was


which was a

increase from 2015/16

Total tax-deductible donations by state of residence

Top 3 states by tax-deductible donations

The top three states accounted for 80% of total tax deductible donations made to DGRs in 2016-17.

1. NSW
$1.25 billion in tax-deductible donations

1,452,522 donors

35.72% of national total donated

The average donation in NSW is


which is


of taxable income

2. VIC
$1.01 billion in tax-deductible donations

1,270,687 donors

29.1% of national total donated

The average donation in VIC is


which is


of taxable income

The more one earns the more one claims as a tax-deductible donation.

Donating taxpayers with a taxable income

over $1 million

claim an average tax-deductible donation of


This represents 2.1% of their taxable income compared to national average of 0.43%

This group represents 16.73% of all tax deductible donations.

Tax-deductible donations data by sex

2.25 million


claimed tax-deductible donations.

The average tax-deductible donation claimed by

Australian male taxpayers




of their taxable income

2.28 million


claimed tax-deductible donations.

The average tax-deductible donation claimed by

Australian female taxpayers




of their taxable income

Tax-deductible donations by occupation

TOP 3 donors by occupation


The highest average gift deductions were claimed by Chief Executives and Managing Directors


Chief Executives and Managing Directors also had the highest amount claimed as tax deductions in total:

...and had the third highest deductible donation ot taxable income ratio:


followed by
Authors, Books or Script Editors


Authors, Books or Script Editors also had the highest deductible donation to taxable income ratio:
followed by

Religious Leaders:


Internal medicine specialists


The occupation with the highest percentage of donating taxpayers:



claiming a tax-deductible donation

A very cool database of all deductible gifts claimed between 2006-2017, fully searchable by occupation, can be found here: nonprofit-studies/resources/giving-statistics/

Giving Around the World

Australians like to think of ourselves as a generous lot, but how do we compare to the rest of the world?

Source: 2019 World Giving Index

Australia ranks eighth in the world


of people participating in donating money

Australia ranks pales in giving comparison to
top ranking Myanmar (Burma)

Myanmar (Burma)
has a giving rate of

and a GDP of $US76 billion
compared to Australia's GDP
of $1.37 tillion

Top 10 countries by participation in donating money
(by % of people)

The world's highest scoring countries over 10 years

By % of people who have:

helped a stranger
donated money to a charity
volunteered at an organisation

Further information regarding tax deductible giving including annual updates to this information can be found here, at the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies.