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Donation nation: which state is most generous?

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2014 – September 2015 (n=15,668).

Besides being a gigantic spendathon and one of the retail industry’s busiest periods, Christmas is a time for giving. With this in mind, Roy Morgan Research decided to look into how Australians are tracking in terms of giving to charity — and found that while the proportion of us making charitable donations has fallen, the average annual amount each person gives has risen.

Between October 2010 and September 2011, 70% of Aussies aged 14+ reported making at least one donation to charity in the previous 12 months. As of September 2015, this had slipped to 66%. Yet over that time the average annual amount given per Australian rose from $264 to $302.

Incidence of charitable giving is fairly consistent between the states, generally hovering around the national average – except for Western Australia, where 71% of the population are donors; and Tasmania, where 63% of residents give to charity.

Donations by incidence and value: a state-by-state breakdown


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2014 – September 2015 (n=15,668).

As well as being home to the country’s greatest proportion of charitable givers, WA also distinguishes itself in terms of average annual value given per Western Australian. Western Australians who donate to charity hand over around $355 each per year, ahead of those from NSW/ACT ($331) and Victoria ($285) – and some $115 more than the average South Australian.

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“With some 60,000 charities and not-for-profit organisations registered in Australia, competition for the donation dollar is fierce. Obviously, the recent decline in the proportion of the population giving to charity doesn’t help, although the increased value of the average amount donated per annum is good news for those charities that benefit from them.

“WA leads the nation in both donation incidence and average annual amount given per person. Examining the attitudes of Western Australians towards issues such as raising living standards among the world’s poorest people or helping others, we find that they are slightly above average for believing that ‘Helping others is my duty as a global citizen’ and ‘Everyday people like you or me can help to raise living standards’.

"But then, so are Victorians — who, while almost as likely as people from WA to give to charity, are well behind them in terms of amount given. So why this difference in donation value? The fact that Western Australians are almost twice as likely as Victorians to live in households with an income of $200,000+ may have something to do with it.

“In Queensland and Tasmania, where charitable giving is not quite as popular, residents do not appear to have such a global outlook, and are more likely to feel that ‘My responsibility is just to other Australians’. What’s more, Queenslanders are noticeably less supportive of the Australian Government increasing ‘overseas aid to help reduce global poverty.’

“By understanding how different sectors of the population feel about helping the world’s poorest people, for example, or where the country’s high earners live, charities can be more strategic when communicating with current and potential donors, and waste less time on a ‘scatter-gun’ approach.”

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%