Saturday, May 31, 2008

Times are tough, but Aussies keep giving - The Sydney Morning Herald - 30th May 2008

Australians just never stop giving, no matter what the circumstances.

Despite high interest rates and the soaring cost of petrol and food putting pressure on the household budget, charities continue to benefit from the nation's generosity.

Donations to the Salvation Army's annual Red Shield appeal are up about 12 per cent from last year, having raised $6.2 million, according to an interim result.

And figures from an Institute of Chartered Accountants business forum in Melbourne this week show donations to charities haven risen by 12.5 per cent each year.

Head of philanthropic services at financial services company Perpetual, David Knowles, said many people were moved to donate by the sight of their fellow Australians struggling.

"When you have that heightened awareness that there are people in need, then Australians are generous and will respond," Mr Knowles said.

The Giving Australia report, released in October 2005, found 87 per cent of Australians donated to charities and collectively handed over $7.7 billion in 2004.

The Salvation Army's Red Shield appeal director Major Gary Masters said this year's door knock showed the importance of trying to look after those less fortunate even when the finances of those donating were stretched thin.

"We think it reflects the overall responsibility that Australians feel to look after one another," Mr Masters said of the door knock.

Major Masters likened this ability to donate as akin to farmers coping with the drought.

"Farmers have this wonderful ability (to) tighten their belts when times are tough and get through another year of drought," Mr Masters said.

"Australians seem to be able to do the same thing. When times are tough, they seem to find that their pockets are deeper."

Major Masters said appeals for overseas aid following natural disasters such as the earthquakes in China or flooding in Burma were unlikely to stop the flow of money, given past experience.

He said the Red Shield Appeal's best year for collections was 2005, a year where Australians donated about $400 million towards aid efforts for victims of the Boxing Day tsunami that killed about 200,000 people across Asia.

Workplaces were expected also to play their part.

Mr Knowles said workers who were part of Generation Y - those born between 1983 and 1997 - expected companies to have some form of charitable activity.

"That particular generation seems to have an acute social awareness," Mr Knowles said.

"That's either expecting the company to do stuff in the community, or expecting the company to allow you as the employee to do something personally."

The Giving Australia report said 67 per cent of businesses donated to charity and in the 2003/04 financial year they gave $3.2 billion.

Major Masters said there was an increased number of door knockers and volunteers for this year's Red Shield appeal, with between 45,000-48,000 people across the nation hitting the pavement.

"It is just outstanding that people have that philanthropic attitude and that willingness to give up a little bit of their time to help their fellow Australians," Major Masters said.

Salvation Army


Social and Community Entrepreneurs