Community donors keep giving as others close their pursesby Matthew Schulz, journalist
Our Community’s donations platform, GiveNow, is bucking a national trend that’s seen donations slump more than 7% in 12 months, a detailed analysis of Australian Taxation Office (ATO) data shows.
The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at QUT this year published its analysis of tax-deductible donations in 2015–2016 by individual taxpayers, which found that donations peaked in 2014–2015 at $3.1 billion before dipping to $2.9 billion in 2015–2016.
The number of taxpayers making donations also fell, by about 600,000 people to 4.51 million (about one third of all taxpayers), and the average proportion of income donated fell too, the report found.
In contrast, the total value of donations made via GiveNow has grown by 10% in the past year, and the average donation now sits at $246, its highest level ever.
The GiveNow team believes the contrast between donation trends on that platform and donation trends nationwide highlights a shift towards greater giving to small to medium sized community organisations. It is on track to hit $100 million in donations collected for the Australian community sector (since 2001) by the end of 2018.
“While we’ve looked at that general market dip in donor dollars with concern, we’ve just stayed focused on what we’re trying to achieve – technology that works well, minimal fees, and the best experience for donors and recipients alike,” GiveNow executive director Cathy Truong said.
“So far that strategy has meant we have seen only growth in donation activity.”
Asked why GiveNow seems to have dodged the donations dip, Ms Truong said, “Our hypothesis is that there is a move to increase donations to more localised activities, away from large donations to large organisations, to the small- to medium-sized community organisations that GiveNow and Our Community works most closely with.”
“I believe it is because donors want to connect with, and provide support for, their local community organisations.”
GiveNow’s status as Australia’s lowest-transaction-fee giving platform has also been a factor, she said.
“This year we processed $13.5 million in donations to organisations in every sector: health, community, youth, asylum seekers, international aid, indigenous issues, and many more. We’re over the $93 million threshold now in donations since inception, but we’re expecting that growth trend to continue with some new features we’ve recently added.”
Late last month, GiveNow developers rolled out a feature that lets organisations embed a donations tool directly onto their sites.
Earlier this year, GiveNow also launched CrowdRaisers, a “peer to peer” tool that allows supporters to raise funds on behalf of their favourite organisations, but for a flat 3.8% fee – a lot less than other organisations, which charge 5–10% per donation on top of other fees.