Let’s talk: Are there too many charities in Australia? 11

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Aussies always support a good cause, but there are currently over 54 000 charities in our country. With so many charities to choose from, our dollars are stretched thin and charities even more so.

Whilst the debate about money and resources looms, it’s got some people wondering whether there are in fact too many charities in Australia? At Starts At Sixty, we want your thoughts on this topic today!

The Community Council for Australia (CCA) has warned that charities should either “merge or disappear altogether because too many of them are wasting valuable resources competing with each other”.

“Self-interest can be a hard thing for charities to put aside, however we are in the business of serving communities, not ourselves”, said David Crosbie from the CCA.

Mr Crosbie added that charities should, “work much harder at collaboration and possible merges, not just because it is in their interests but in the interests of the communities they serve”.

However, his comments have been dismissed by Susan Pascoe from the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). Her commission is responsible for registering each charity in the country.

Ms Pascoe has argued that having thousands of charities allows Australians to ensure a broad variety of community needs are being served.

“Many private hospitals and aged-care facilities… thousands of churches, temples, synagogues and mosques across Australia are registered with the ACNC, as are most non-government schools”, she said.

Ms Pascoe also argued that mismanaged or refuted charities are often deregistered by the ACNC. For example, Shane Warne’s foundation was recently shut down after failing to lodge its annual audit.

“(Since) late 2012, we have registered around 8,000 new charities”, Ms Pascoe explained. “In the same period of time, we have revoked or removed over 13,000 charities”.

The Commissioner did acknowledge that charities have a strong voice within Australian culture though, and agreed that charities have become very good at vying for our attention.

“Nearly every day we see charity street collectors and receive window-faced envelopes in the mail, read crowdfunding requests and watch charity television ads”, she acknowledged.

Ms Pascoe stopped short of agreeing there are too many charities in Australia, though: “To answer the question – are there too many charities in Australia?”

“In my view, we can only say yes to that when we are confident that we are efficiently and effectively meeting all community needs not covered by government in every part of this vast continent”, she said.

Where do you stand? Do you think charities should act more like “businesses”, and merge their efforts and resources? Or is having over 50,000 charities reasonable for a country the size of Australia?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. yes there are too many charities in this country some charities are bogus and if you give to them only 1/3 of what you give goes to the people you are giving to. All charities should give at least 50% or more to the people they collect for

  2. I give to local charities only. I can see where the money is spent. Many of the big charities have too many highly paid directors gobbling u the money.

  3. Yes there are to many, to many phone calls rude people asking for money the majority of people cannot afford to give to these charities, it gets to the stage when you just say no to everyone

  4. When I lived in Brisbane, practically every street corner had a charity collector on it. All from different charities. When I became unemployed 18 months prior to retirement, I worked for a charity for my New Start. That charity like most of the Biggies was run like a corporate business. To many it was no longer a charity as prices were being raised all the time to meet the demands of head office. Supposedly all funds raised went back into the community. When it came to Christmas, head office said they could not afford to give each shop an amount to go towards a party, at the same time having a very large and very expensive Christmas Bash themselves.
    There has been criticism over the past few years with funds collected by two of the major charities from bushfire and flood appeals, where very little of the money has been handed out.
    I now search for a group who I know will direct my donation directly to the cause of the present disaster. I boycott the larger charities when there is a national appeal because of their bad track records. Then other problem with many of them is that they still clamour for the government to give them financial assistance. Some of these larger charities also have businesses outside of their outreach, that are bringing in huge profits, but because they are registered as a charity those businesses don’t pay tax.

  5. The obvious enough one is cancer research is this fragmented or would one fund be better

  6. Far too many. Particularly disappointing that people who opt to start up a charity did not start first with being actively involved in the wonderful Service Clubs which do just that – support a multitude of good causes. All these competing against one another is absolute rubbish. More scrutiny should be given to those who start up the charities and more questions asked of them “Does something like you are proposing exist already”? Less red tape for the government to administer and a better result all round. I believe the previous Federal Government tried to rope this in but I guess that study was also tossed out the window with other policies!

  7. A simple way to sort out the rorts is
    1. Cap admin and ancillary expenses including salaries to 4% only of the total revenue.
    2. Tax all religious organisations as companies. Disallow religious donations as tax claimable.
    3. De register political fundraising charites that funnel donations to parties often from special interest and ilegal donors.

  8. Just because it may feel good to start a registered personal interest charity often to remember a dead loved one or local issue,it does not mean the results will be good when the charity supports an issue which is already supported by duplicate charities. Let’s simplify the charity scene. This is a difficult ask because there is much money in promoting charitable causes. Logical community discussion is desperately needed to give us relief from multitudes of charities. Most people decide on a number they are able to and wish to support quite substantially and see the rest as an intrusion and resist donating even if the request is not for a large amount. We had to combat pester power at shops as parents of young children -now it is from the exploited young collectors in the public spaces. Surely no one really benefits-maybe not even the charity.

  9. I seem to remember hearing that there was one central collection body that collected for all/many charities, assessed each’s needs and then distributed the collected money accordingly. Does it ring a bell in anyone else’s memory????

    If so could you let us all know, so we can consider that as a better alternative.

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