Guide to donating to charities

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03.Survey of charities

Charities surveyed by CHOICE

We surveyed a mix of 11 large domestic and overseas aid charities that do a diverse range of work. Nine responded and provided the comprehensive information requested. Lifeline Community Care Queensland and the National Heart Foundation didn't send a survey response. The latter sent a copy of its annual report.

The charities in the table willingly gave CHOICE their financial info for the last year. However, the result is an example of how such info is structured in different ways, so that it becomes impossible to compare.

Organisation name Australian Red Cross CARE Australia Mission Australia The Cancer Council NSW  Oxfam Australia
Compliant with ACFID or FIA Code ACFID, FIA ACFID FIA FIA ACFID, FIA
Income ($, pa)
Donated funds 43,781,000 14,811,717 20,285,000 42,228,000 38,029,000
Grants 363,720,000 29,949,159 210,432,000 1,231,000 12,841,000
Other income 70,241,000 3,356,878 23,223,000 17,898,000 3,645,000
Total income 477,742,000 48,117,754 253,940,000 61,357,000 54,515,000
Expenses ($, pa)
Community education and programs 915,000 838,698 2,896,000 12,839,000 Not applicable
Fundraising costs 23,532,000 2,834,781 7,092,000 13,353,000 7,966,000
Administration costs 15,049,000 2,744,114 8,504,000 5,081,000 3,457,000
Service delivery and other costs 454,929,000 39,614,565 239,480,000 17,280,000 36,146,000
Excess or deficit of income over expenses -16,683,000 2,085,596 -4,032,000 12,804,000 6,946,000
 
Value of money held in reserve 257,535,000 12,740,769 41,354,000 63,175,000 29,982,000
Value of all assets including property 339,401,000 48,224,900 119,622,000 67,889,000 44,542,000
Commissions paid to third-party commercial fundraisers 20% over life of donation No
90% of first year’s donation, 25–30% over 5 years
Under 25% over the average life of a donation
70% of first year’s donation
Benchmarks: effectiveness of fundraising operations and costs
Fundraising costs, return on income, donor numbers, growth in fundraising, donations received
Fundraising cost ratios, relationships with donors, donations, brand awareness, new donors acquired
33% fundraising cost ratio, except bequests (14%)
Other state cancer councils, CFA best practice guidelines, other charities’ annual reports
Cost of fundraising, program investment and cost of administration ratios
Independent directors on the charity’s board 2 18 (2006/2007) 8 8 All (13)
Stakeholder representation on the charity’s board
Member representation
No
All directors are donors
2 cancer survivors
Directors are ordinary members and donors/volunteers
Phone number 03 9345 1800 02 6279 0200 02 9219 2000 02 9334 1900 03 9829 9444
Website www.redcross.org.au www.careaustralia.org.au www.missionaustralia.com.au www.cancercouncil.com.au www.oxfam.org.au
 



Organisation name The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory Social Work The Smith Family Vision Australia World Vision Australia
Compliant with ACFID or FIA Code ACFID, FIA FIA FIA ACFID
Income ($, pa)        
Donated funds 74,213,000 35,123,000 27,981,000 332,915,946
Grants 133,299,000 6,505,000 26,751,000 17,739,260
Other income 76,472,000 4,842,000 (A) 19,848,000 5,819,529
Total income 283,984,000 46,470,000 74,580,000 356,474,735
Expenses ($, pa)
Community education and programs Not applicable 33,937,000 Not applicable 2,838,936
Fundraising costs 5,817,000 9,351,000 3,240,000 27,690,897
Administration costs No figure provided 1,920,000 12,075,000 24,496,415
Service delivery and other costs 254,601,000 Not applicable 54,889,000 311,646,276
Excess or deficit of income over expenses 23,566,000 1,262,000 4,376,000 –10,197,789
 
Value of money held in reserve 77,386,000 21,140,000 188,924,000 28,926,618
Value of all assets including property 411,272,000 45,669,000 206,981,000 68,769,181
Commissions paid to third-party commercial fundraisers No No No 7.6% of the lifetime donations (B)
Benchmarks: effectiveness of fundraising operations and costs
NSW Charitable Fundraising Regulation, FIA Code
Cost of fundraising ratios
Quarterly program evaluation, comparison against other not-for-profits
Fundraising and administration cost ratios
Independent directors on the charity’s board 0 9 12 13
Stakeholder representation on the charity’s board No No
Client representative council nominates 2 board representatives
All directors are donors
Phone number 02 9264 1711 02 9085 7222 1300 84 74 66 133 240
Website www.salvos.org.au www.thesmithfamily.com.au www.visionaustralia.org www.worldvision.com.au
 

 

Table notes

(A) 'Other income' figure includes the net profit from commercial activities. If the total income (before costs) from commercial activities was included instead, the charity's total income would be over $74 million.

(B) In the financial year to 30 September 2007, only 5% of new child sponsors were acquired via third-party commercial fundraisers.

Using the table

Income An approximate breakdown of where the charities’ money comes from. The main sources are government grants, donations from the public, and the money they make from commercial operations such as shops and merchandise. The table shows that some charities get most of their income from government contracts and spend less money on public fundraising, while others get most of their money from public fundraising appeals. Comparing these charities’ fundraising cost ratios is tricky, as they’re different types of organisations, which raise money in different ways.

Expenses An indication of how the money is used. Respondents defined their fundraising and administration costs in different ways. 'Other' costs were sometimes interpreted as meaning delivery of the actual service provided by charity.

Value of money held in reserve tells you how much money the charity holds back. Sometimes, charities are criticised for holding too much money in reserve, while they continue to appeal for donations. However, charities need to ensure their long-term viability.

Value of all assets including property gives an indication of the size of the charity.

Commissions paid to third-party commercial fundraisers Not all charities use third-party fundraisers, but when they do the cost can be a high percentage of the donor’s first-year donation. See Donating effectively for more on this.

Benchmarks for fundraising effectiveness, independent directors and stakeholder representation on the board are all signs of good corporate governance.

For more information, check the charities' websites. All make their annual reports and financial statements publicly available.

 

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