Gandel Philanthropy

Philanthropy in action

At Australia’s national museum of screen culture, ACMI, students can learn about emerging technologies and the art of film, TV, video games, digital culture and art. They can access the latest technology and creative tools in the Gandel Digital Future Labs — two state-of-the-art education studios renewed with the support of Gandel Philanthropy. A multi-year flagship grant from Gandel Philanthropy is also strengthening career pathways for students to enter industries that focus on entrepreneurship, game design and other evolving technologies.


Almost two-thirds of Australia’s 56,000 registered charities (63%) are classified as small, with annual revenue of $250,000 or less. 

(Source: ACNC)

The Pandemic Effect

While a recent report found that the not-for-profit sector’s fundraising income has not been as hard hit by the pandemic as expected, the impact has still been significant — 57% of the 907 respondents reported a funding downturn. Authored by Salesforce and Our Community, The COVID-19 Community Sector Impact Survey was released in June 2021.

Arts and culture organisations reported the biggest downturn with 38% reporting that income from fundraising and donations had decreased significantly and another 27% reporting that income had decreased slightly. Significant decreases in income reported by other cause areas included: sports and recreation (38%); education (34%); environment (27%); community development (27%); human services (22%); and health (20%).

Effect of pandemic on donations and fundraising income

But, in heartening news, the report notes that a YouGov consumer sentiment survey found that 37% of Australians who support not-for-profits say they plan to donate more this year than last, with only 7% planning to decrease their giving. 

Staffing levels also gave cause for optimism, with 23% of organisations reporting that COVID-19 had resulted in reduced staff numbers compared to 35% in April 2020.

With many NFPs reliant on volunteers there are tougher times ahead: 58% of organisations that rely on volunteers said they had experienced a drop in volunteer numbers, with 81% of respondents reporting that the pandemic had affected their ability to manage and recruit volunteers.

Alongside access to volunteers, budget constraints, managing demand, diversifying income streams, finding skilled employees and access to digital technology are the biggest headaches for NFPs arising from the pandemic in 2021.

However, challenges for some are opportunities for others, and there are silver linings, including more awareness of issues (59%), new partnerships (42.5%), adopting new digital technology (39%), diversification of revenue (33%) and more strategic planning (22%).

Indicative of the resilience of the sector, 33% of organisations reported that they are stronger than they were before the onset of the pandemic, and 23% said that their organisations were more viable. That said, there is still a worrying 22% that feel they are weaker, most notably arts and cultural organisations. Overall, 49% of respondents feel the viability of their organisation is under threat, with 15% of those assessing the threat as significant. These numbers are lower than in last year’s survey, but are still cause for concern.


Giving in Australia has fallen back to mid-2016 levels, losing the gains of the last five years. But past analysis of significant falls in philanthropy after major economic declines in both Australia and in the USA suggests the rebound is normally swift. 

(Source: JBWere NAB Charitable Giving Index: A timely examination of giving in Australia, July 2021)

How to grow giving

Philanthropy Australia’s recent report on growing structured giving, which currently stands at $2.5 billion per annum, identified five opportunities that could positively impact not-for-profits’ ability to attract more philanthropic giving:

1. Capturing a share of the intergenerational wealth transfer: Australia is expecting $2.6 trillion to be transferred between generations from 2021 to 2040, and understanding where that wealth transfer will take place is key.

2. Leveraging interest in community and place-based philanthropy: this trend is growing and was accelerated due to the Australian bushfires, floods and COVID-19.

3. Establishing giving attitudes earlier in life: the younger people are engaged in a culture of giving, the more likely they are to give later in life.

4. Increasing fundraising capabilities and focus within the executive: it’s critical that nonprofit leadership understands fundraising and its integral role in organisational strategy.

5. Building and maintaining public trust in charities: maintaining best practice and transparency is key to ensuring continued and growing public support.

Source: A Blueprint to Grow Structured Giving: How Australia can double structured giving by 2030, April 2021.

Turns out older donors DO want to give online

Research conducted by Parachute Digital, The digital behaviours (and charitable giving) of people over 70 years of age, has found that fundraisers are underestimating the digital capacity of older donors.

Of the fundraisers surveyed, 48% of fundraisers believe that these older donors would prefer to talk to someone over the phone; 69% prefer to contact people over 70 by mail; only 15% contact older donors via email; and 0% use SMS.

The report surveyed 376 people over the age of 70 and conducted 14 qualitative interviews to find that we are, in fact, the problem. “Fundraisers and the adult children of people over 70 see and treat this group as though they are completely clueless,” says the report. 

Let’s look at the stats for donors over 70:.

62% stated they were comfortable in a digital world

90% are on social media

80% own a smartphone

65% said they are comfortable putting their credit card details online

45% said they would prefer to donate online

71% gave to charity in the past year

41% gave to a charity online in the past year

40% said they would prefer to be contacted via email

6% would like to be called on the phone

The upshot, advise the authors, is that “as a fundraising sector, we need to change how we engage with and ask older Australians to donate. Then we watch and see if the giving income shifts towards digital, as we expect it will.”

You can download the report from Parachute Digital’s website.

Flexible fundraising service for small teams

New consultancy Opal Fundraising offers professional fundraising support for small charities, micro fundraising teams and stretched teams that need an extra hand.

Despite the growth in professional fundraising, many start-ups and small fundraising teams struggle with accessing expertise to start, evaluate or expand fundraising initiatives. Established teams face extra pressures when staff leave or they need to implement new projects. Opal Fundraising offers a flexible, collaborative alternative to recruiting a fundraising manager or project specialist.

Founder and Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) professional Sharyn Tidswell says, “Small nonprofit teams or solo operators often have great ideas and experience but not always in fundraising. They also don’t have much time or money. What they need is access to affordable expertise that promotes sustainable fundraising success, without the risks of employing someone now.”

With more than 20 years’ experience helping small and large nonprofits to raise over $55 million, Sharyn brings ‘hands on’ skills in strategic planning, team development and program implementation across the fundraising mix. Opal Fundraising now offers that expertise to small nonprofits in a tailored way, whether to develop fundraising plans, write appeals and proposals, use data effectively, direct design, implement bequest programs, or build major donor relationships.

Her adaptable approach means Opal Fundraising can deliver direct services, coaching or links to other quality service providers, depending on the best solution to achieve goals. That adaptability also spans a variety of organisations, whether faith-based federation or entrepreneurial start-up, plus causes that include suicide prevention, medical research, international aid, disadvantaged children and fighting extreme energy poverty.

“As a practising fundraiser in a small operation, I know first-hand the joys and challenges of juggling expectations, changing culture, engaging stakeholders, equipping non-fundraisers, trading on goodwill, making things happen, and never letting go of the passion to make a positive difference,” says Sharyn. For more information, visit

Lockdowns ensure digital fundraising revolution is here to stay

The shift from face-to-face to digital fundraising is continuing to gain momentum, with over 13 million Australians recently thrown into the pandemic-induced lockdowns.

In November 2020, F&P reported that Australian charities are increasingly reviewing their fundraising strategies to ensure they have a meaningful digital presence and campaigns that convert interested parties into regular long-term givers.

Fansdonate, a specialist digital fundraising agency based in Brisbane that has been at the forefront of this continuing trend, has seen its charitable client-list grow by 350% since the pandemic began.

Fansdonate’s Founder and CEO Stephen Thirgood said charities’ appetite to move to digital has increased further in 2021 as the long-term realities of the pandemic hit home for businesses across the country. 

“We knew that this shift to digital fundraising would be permanent, and charities have grasped that the future of their campaigns needs to be based around how consumers receive information and how they make decisions. “We now represent four of Australia’s five most trusted charities and have added significantly to our Australia and NZ client list in 2021, including both big charities and smaller fundraising organisations who — like us — recognise the future is digital,” Thirgood said.

One example is Médecins Sans Frontières Australia (MSF) — also known as Doctors Without Borders — who partnered with Fansdonate in March 2020 as COVID-19 became front of mind in Australia.

MSF Australia’s Regular Giving Coordinator, Nick O’Halloran, said: “During the pandemic we had a need to increase our digital fundraising presence. 

“Fansdonate offered extensive experience in this space and were a really good fit as an extension of our fundraising team. Sixteen months later the digital campaigns we’ve run together have generated 700 regular MSF givers and have assisted us to explain what we do, direct to Australians’ mobile handsets. 

“The ongoing digital conversation we’re having with givers and potential MSF givers is deep and rich. With the latest COVID-19 outbreaks placing 13 million Australians into fresh lockdowns, this digital strategy is a primary focus for us moving forward.”