Guide to donating to charities

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09.More information

97% of regular donors who responded to our survey agree it’s important that they have information about the effectiveness of their favoured charity’s work, even if they can’t get reliable information about its finances. The good news is that most people who sought this information were able to find it.

The easiest thing to do is to make a call or go online. The most common avenues that survey respondents used for their research were charities’ websites, annual reports and other publications, and by asking a staff member or volunteer.

To get more information:

  • If you’re making a donation to an overseas aid organisation, check that it’s a member of ACFID and more importantly, a signatory to its Code of Conduct. (CHOICE Council Member Robin Brown is a donor representative on ACFID's Code of Conduct Committee).
  • For domestic charities and commercial fundraisers, ask if they’re an organisational member of the Fundraising Institute Australia. The association told us that as a result of our research, it will consider making a list of its organisational members available to the public.
  • Check that the charity is licensed by its state or territory regulator. Each state has different exemptions – in Queensland, religious organisations don’t need to be registered, for example.
  • Consumer Affairs Victoria lists its registered charities (all the national ones are there), with details of cost ratios and use of commercial fundraisers. You may need to ask the charity to explain the figures.
  • Do your own calculations. You’ll need to flick to the end of annual reports for the figures; compare fundraising revenue with fundraising costs and read the notes to financial statements to see how ratios are calculated.

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