Australians give their money and time to a wide range of worthy causes, but the causes they support can change depending upon which issues are topical*.
Donations to emergency relief organisations increase after floods and fires, while giving to charities that help people who can’t pay their bills will rise when unemployment is high.
It isn’t surprising that the global Covid-19 pandemic has increased donations to medical research.
Other popular causes in Australia include children’s charities, animal welfare and mental health.
Australia’s top causes
A McCrindle Research report found medical and cancer research was the top cause supported in Australia in 2021.
It found 45 per cent of Australians were motivated to give to organisations associated with medical and cancer research.
This included hospitals, such as the Royal Children’s Hospital, and research institutes, such as the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, that treat patients and do research into new treatments and possible cures.
In 2021, medical causes overtook disaster response, which was the number one cause in 2020 due to the 2019-2020 bushfires. Charities that help children affected by poverty, disadvantage or serious illnesses were the second most popular cause in 2021.
Next were animal welfare and wildlife charities that work to protect pets and animals in the wild, followed by disaster response.
Giving by the generations
The top cause for Gen Z (people aged 18-26) was mental health, which includes organisations that support people with mental health issues and do research into better treatments.
For Gen Y (ages 27-41) it was children’s charities, while Gen X (ages 42-56) donated most to animal welfare and wildlife support. Boomers (people aged 57-75) and Builders (ages 76+) donated most to medical and cancer research.
Popular causes before the pandemic
Another report, by Good2Give, looked at how Australians gave in 2019, before the pandemic and the disastrous 2019-2020 bushfire season. It found the most popular causes were:
- supporting children such as orphans, the seriously ill and those with disabilities (30 per cent);
- helping the financially disadvantaged (25 per cent);
- medical research (21 per cent);
- and supporting homeless people and those with disabilities (both 20 per cent).
Women were more likely to give to animal welfare, at 20 per cent, compared to 13 per cent of men.
Men were more likely to give to overseas aid (17 per cent compared to 10 per cent of women), environment protection (17 per cent compared to 10 per cent), and anti-corruption* initiatives (5 per cent compared to 1 per cent).
Younger donors aged 18-34 were more likely than average to support a range of causes including children, disaster relief, mental healthcare, and human rights* protection.
How we give our time
One in three Australians in the Good2Give report (35 per cent) had volunteered their time in the past 12 months.
They were most likely to support children (21 per cent), religious organisations (21 per cent), homeless people (19 per cent), the financially disadvantaged (18 per cent), and those with disabilities (17 per cent).
There were 30 per cent who volunteered for a charity or not-for-profit organisation*, while 22 per cent volunteered for a religious organisation
One in five volunteered in the past four weeks, including 14 per cent for a not-for profit organisation or charity and 11 per cent for a religious organisation.
Younger Australians aged 18-24 were more likely to have volunteered in the past 12 months (47 per cent) compared to those aged 55 and over (28 per cent).
- topical: of interest and importance at the moment
- anti-corruption: discouraging and stopping dishonest and illegal behaviour
- human rights: basic rights and freedoms that all people should have, to do with being treated equally and fairly
- not-for-profit organisation: an organisation that does not operate to make money
- What was the top cause supported in Australia in 2021, according to the McCrindle report?
- What percentage of Australians were motivated to give to this cause?
- What was top cause supported by Australians in 2020?
- What event in Australia at this time encouraged people to support this cause?
- What percentage of Australians had volunteered in the past 12 months, according to the Good2Give report?
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