Australians are giving less to charity despite record household wealth

SAEED KHAN / AFP / Getty Images

The net worth of Australian households stood at $8.9 trillion to end FY2016, according to the ABS, up another 2.7%, or $231.5 billion, from the March quarter.

Collectively, we’ve never been wealthier, thanks largely to record-high house prices and a recovery in financial markets.

However, while we’re worth more, we’re not sharing it – Australians did not dig deeper when it come to charitable causes.

According to the National Australia Bank’s latest Charitable Giving Index, released today, donations in the year to August fell by 0.3%, the first decline in at least the past five years.

The NAB says the decline was partially due to lower donations to the humanitarian services sector, having spiked last year following the Nepal earthquake.

“This one-off event created a significant spike in giving in April and May 2015,” the bank said.

It also cited “transitional pains” in Australia’s mining states and territories, along with continued signs of consumers cutting back on non-essential spending, as factors behind the decline in charitable donations.

Source: NAB

Given older Australians are, on average, wealthier than younger generations, it came as no surprise that the only age groups boosting donations over the past year were the over-65s and 55-to-64 year-old backets, recording growth of 2% and 1.1% respectively.

All other age groups registered a decline in donations compared to levels a year earlier.

“Young people usually earn less than older people,” says the NAB.

“They are also facing much greater employment challenges. Unemployment rates in this age group have remained elevated over the past year and significantly above the Australian average.

“Job uncertainty is likely to be a contributing factor to more cautious donation behaviours in this group,” it added.

For those not ordering smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread on a weekly basis, it’s also a possibility that younger generations are trying to save for a housing deposit, along with dealing with day-to-day living expenses, making charitable donations a secondary consideration.

Source: NAB

Being home to the oldest demographics in the country, South Australia was the also standout performer by state and territory with donations lifting 6.4% above the levels of a year earlier.

They were joined by Victoria, at 1.2%, as the only state that saw donations lift from 12 month earlier.

By individual postcode, Bellevue Hill in New South Wales assumed the mantel as the suburb with the highest average donation level across the country, coming in at $340. Middle Park in Victoria and Mosman in New South Wales took out second and third spots with an average donation size of $318 and $291 respectively.

Castlemaine in Victoria was the most generous suburb by average income level, donating 0.36% of their annual income for charitable purposes.

Source: NAB

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