The average amount of donations from Australians has been continuously declining, as revealed by results from interviews with 3,200 Australian adults who were asked about their awareness and contributions to over 50 prominent charities. The median donation has dropped to $423 per person in 2023, compared to $488 in 2022, $603 in 2021 and $523 in 2020 (see Graph 1).

Over the last decade, the average number of charities that Australians donate to has decreased from 3.2 to 2.7. Moreover, the proportion of Australians who do not donate at all has increased from 35% in 2021 to 40% in 2023. And the trend towards decreased giving is worsening, with one out of every five Australians stating that they are likely to reduce their regular donations in the coming 12 months (see Graph 3).

“These figures indicate that the struggling economy is directly affecting the capacity of charities to raise funds. Therefore, it is crucial for charities to keep their visibility high among potential donors, or else they may face a shrinking fundraising pool,” says Angela Brooks, the author of the survey conducted by McNair yellowSquares.

The data has consistently shown that Australians with higher incomes, those who are in professional and managerial occupations, have average donations that are 62% higher than other Australian’s donations. 

Graph 1: Average donations per adult to all charities

Graph 2: Preferred method of giving

Graph 3: Trends in likelihood to reduce giving in the next year

The survey also provides insights into the preferred methods for donors to give (see Graph 2). The most popular ways for individuals to support charities include purchasing items that contribute a percentage to the charity, acquiring raffle or art union tickets and donating to a collection tin.

The data reveals some recommendations for charities to increase their donation amounts, including the following three key methods:

1 Use multiple channels and offer different options for giving

2 Develop top-of-mind awareness by frequently approaching potential donors

3 Target your highest-giving donors

McNair’s findings from monitoring awareness and support of major charities for more than two decades suggest the quantity and size of donations are strongly associated with top-of-mind awareness of a charity, which in turn is linked to the frequency of approaches made by charities to potential donors. There is a direct linear correlation between the level of donors and the frequency of direct approaches made by charities.

Maintaining high levels of general awareness is also crucial to securing donations. Although prompted awareness is not as reliable an indicator of donor level as unprompted awareness, the data indicates that a minimum of 70% prompted awareness is required to achieve a donor level of at least 10%. Organisations that consistently achieve high levels of top-of-mind awareness include Australian Red Cross, Salvation Army, Cancer Council, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Lifeline, Guide Dogs Australia, St Vincent de Paul, World Vision and The Smith Family.

“The data indicates that the past few years have presented difficulties for charitable donations, and current indications suggest that the market continues to be challenging,” says Angela. 

McNair yellowSquares (and before it McNair Ingenuity Research and Quadrant Research), has been monitoring public awareness and support of charitable organisations since 1987. This national survey aims to assist charitable and aid organisations in their marketing and public relations activities by providing reference data for planning and performance review.