Australians aren't giving to charities like they used to

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  • Growth in charitable donations in Australia is slowing.
  • Total donations grew by 1.2% in the 12 months to February, below the 4.7% average since late 2011.
  • Older Australians, on average, give more to charity than their younger counterparts.

Australians aren’t donating to charities as much as they have previously.

According to the National Australia Bank’s (NAB) Charitable Giving Index, the average annual donation fell to $350 in the year to February, down from $353 in the 12 months to February 2017.

However, while a smaller amount in dollar terms, more people donated to charitable causes leaving total donations up 1.2% from a year earlier.

As seen in the chart below, while this reversed an outright decline in charitable giving in the 12 months to February last year, the current pace of growth is still well below the 4.7% average level since late 2011.

Source: NAB

By state, the NAB said donations accelerated sharply in South Australia over the year to 11%, well ahead of the ACT and Victoria in equal-second place at 2.9% apiece.

Donations in Queensland and New South Wales also edged higher, lifting by 1% and 0.8% respectively, while those in Tasmania, Western Australia and the Northern Territory all contracted, falling 2%, 6% and 9.8% respectively.

By age bracket, the NAB found that donations among older Australians increased faster their younger counterparts.

Source: NAB

Growth among those aged 65 years and older grew by 4.4%, double the 2.2% increase for those aged 55 to 64 years. Aside from 15 to 24 year-olds, donations fell across all other groups.

By category, growth in donations to charitable Lotteries surged by 9.2% over the year, outpacing growth of 6% for cancer groups and community and 4.3% for children and family services.

Giving to all other group’s was either flat to lower, including for medical research.

The NAB said the slowdown in charitable giving may reflect cost of living pressures, pointing to a recent survey conducted by the bank that revealed almost one in four Australians reported “high” levels of concern over the cost of living in the December quarter.

“[This is] a situation that is likely creating much greater competition for each consumer dollar,” the NAB says.

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