Media Release


State of the Community Survey Findings Announced
MEDIA RELEASE - June 6, 2005

MORE COMMUNITY groups would prefer people to join their group as a member, serve on the Board, contribute to lobbying efforts or sign up as a volunteer than give money, a survey of community organisations has found.

The State of the Community 2005 survey, which was run as a lead-in to this week's Communities in Control conference, found that 33 per cent of respondents would prefer the community help them to lobby for support to achieve their mission compared to just 21 per cent who said they would prefer them to give more money.

A total of 28 per cent of respondents said that helping through volunteering was the best thing the community could do to support its work while the same number nominated offering to join the Board or committee of management as the most useful way people could help.

A further 26 per cent said the community could best help the organisation by becoming a member and 22 per cent said offering pro bono services.

The survey, which was run by, an online resource for Australia's 700,000 community and non-profit groups, also found the vast majority of community groups had been unaffected by the massive $315 million donated by the Australian public to Tsunami-related appeals.

The survey found 60 per cent of respondents reported the Tsunami had not affected their fundraising, while a further 27 per cent said they didn't know the impact. Less than 10 per cent of groups said the wave of donations to Tsunami appeals had impacted negatively on their fundraising.

The survey of over 350 community group representatives also found:
  • 49 per cent of groups said State/Territory Government grants were their primary source of funding while 27 per cent nominated federal funding. Other major forms of fundraising were local government grants (19 per cent), membership fees (15 per cent), fees and charges (17 per cent) and individual donations (12 per cent). Grants from philanthropic foundations were nominated as the primary source of funding for just 3.4 per cent of groups.
  • Lack of funding was nominated by 44 per cent of groups as the biggest challenge facing their organisation while almost 21 per cent nominated the lack of cohesion between various levels of government, 19 per cent nominated difficulties in gaining a public profile and 19 per cent nominated lack of influence over public policy.
  • The finances of most respondent groups are in good shape, with 84 per cent of describing them as "OK", "Good" or "Excellent". Worryingly, 16 per cent described their finances as "Weak" or "Awful", with 9 per cent saying they often needed to run emergency fundraising activities and 6 per cent saying they were wondering if they would survive the year.
  • Asked what the community group needed to be more effective in their work, 46 per cent of groups nominated more funding while almost 27 per cent said they needed a higher public profile, 20 per cent said they needed more and better partnerships with business and 19 per cent said they needed more political clout.
  • While 65 per cent of respondents said they believed their Board or committee of management was fulfilling its fiduciary duties and 63 per cent said the Board was doing a good job of being accountable to stakeholders, 37 per cent said their Board had never conducted a self-evaluation to determine if they were doing a good job.
The CEO of, Dr Rhonda Galbally AO, said she wasn't surprised that community groups would take volunteers or active participants before a straight one-off donation.

"There's no doubt community groups always need more money but the reality is if they can build support and build memberships, the money will come from that wider network that they have to fundraise into," Dr Galbally said.

"The difference is that groups want YOU - not just your money. They want you to be active, to participate in the life of the group and if people love the group and the work it does, they will support it financially."

Dr Galbally said it was pleasing that after showing incredible generosity in their support of the various Tsunami appeals, Australians were continuing to support the groups they love and respect in their own communities.

"It's really encouraging particularly because in the lead-up to the end of financial year, it is traditionally the busiest time for donations to community groups. Hopefully this is a sign that people are prepared to show their support for groups. "

There are currently more than 545 community appeals listed on the Australian Giving Centre, the free online donations service on which is supported by the Westpac Bank.

The Communities in Control conference, co-convened by and Centacare Catholic Family Services, is being held at Moonee Valley Racecourse on June 6-7.

For comment on the State of the Community 2005 Survey please contact Brett de Hoedt on 0414 713 802 Brian Walsh on 0411 22 7585 or Rhonda  Galbally on 0419 399 655. (All three will be at the Communities in Control conference on Monday, June 6 and Tuesday, June 7).