Where to from Here? The Outlook for Philanthropy During COVID-19

Where to from Here? The Outlook for Philanthropy During COVID-19

This report by JBWere attempts to estimate the outlook for philanthropy and volunteering in Australia during the unprecedented combination of a major economic downturn and a significant global health crisis. They have looked at the past reactions of individuals, foundations and corporate donors during circumstances as close to rivalling this current situation as possible but, needless to say, a great deal of extrapolation is required.

In Australia, it is also complicated by the widespread and very generous support already given during the recent bushfires across most States only four months ago. While it would be easy and potentially prudent to assume a major fall in philanthropy is to occur, that would also ignore the main historical driver of rises in philanthropy in Australia: natural disasters. There are also some timing differences for structured philanthropy that is likely to see a delayed effect and smoothing of support. Corporate giving has been affected when profitability has fallen although the actual proportion of profits given has risen during these tough times. Volunteering on the other hand is being severely hampered by isolation requirements, regardless of how strong people’s desires may be to help.

Australia last experienced a recession in 1991 when the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) weren’t collecting donations data. The recession prior was in 1983 when giving actually grew strongly, although it fell by 4.5% in the following year.

Analysing each of the giving segments in Australia and looking at the main factors influencing their levels of support, the research estimates total giving will fall by around 7.1% in 2020 after rising by almost 5% over each of the previous two years. The larger effect from the current crisis is likely to be felt in 2021 when giving is estimated to fall by a further 11.9%, back to levels not seen since 2012.

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