The 2021 Generosity Forum presented by F&P (Fundraising and Philanthropy) was a smorgasbord of informative and eclectic sessions.

Held virtually across three days (23rd – 25th March) two SG team members attended. Overall, we found the content perceptive and insightful.

Here is our rundown on the sessions attended:

The state of the Philanthropic Nation

The State of the Philanthropic Nation delivered by John McLeod, Philanthropist and Council Member, Philanthropy Australia. Analyst for JB Were Philanthropic Services.
John McLeod provided a detailed analysis of giving trends from individual donors, PAFs, PuAFs, High Net Worth Individuals and Corporates. Comparing data from Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. – it turns out, we are pretty much on par.
John commenced by stating what we know, but needs to be highlighted – philanthropy supports disasters and Australia has had two in the last 18 months … bush fires and the COVID pandemic.
John’s points made in consideration of these two disaster events:

  • normally we give to ‘others’ but this time it was to everyone
  • the disasters impacted a lot of people financially
  • corporates’ profits and dividends did fall, but they actually gave more during the disasters

2020 analysis Vs actual

In April 2020, JB Were published some analysis around giving trends in the year to come.
It was forecast that giving / donations would go down 7% in 2020, and was expected to reduce further in 2021 to 12%. After immense support to help those impacted by the bushfires in Dec 2019, both half year periods in 2020 were down around 15% from previous years.
The 2021 period is 15% down to date – based on monthly data from the National Australia Bank (NAB).
However, put doom and gloom to the side … history tells us giving recovers fast after a decline (based on US and Australian historic data). Giving in 2022 is expected to bounce back and recover.

Giving in 2022 is expected to bounce back

With this in mind, we must keep in mind what the philanthropic trends were before the bushfires (Dec 2019) to prepare for 2022 fundraising strategies because the underlying trends in philanthropy continue to change across the globe.
Long-term trends
The biggest single issue in Philanthropy in Australia, is the decline of the number of people making a donation.
Across Australia, the US, New Zealand and the U.K, the number of donors making tax-deductible donations is declining. However, those who do donate – are giving more. This speaks to the vital importance of your existing donors, and that maintaining a connection with your donors – is critical.

Areas of philanthropic growth in Australia

PAFs (Private Ancillary Funds) continue to grow. It has been 20-years since PAFs commenced in Australia in 2001. There are currently around 1850 distributing around $500 million per annum, but there should be 30,000 based on the number of people earning significant amounts of money. This area of philanthropy is will however continue to grow.

Charitable Trusts are now visible via the ACNC – although many have been in existence for a long period, their number, scale and interests were not visible before 2015. The number of Charitable Trusts is not growing as fast as PAF’s but are giving away the same amount of money.

Corporate Sector – the roles of corporations is moving towards more targeted levels of community support. Their stakeholders are much more than shareholders now – giving helps with their societal reputation, corporate responsibility and attracting then retaining staff. John’s insight is “the Corporate sector is set to grow the most in giving”.
During COVID the corporate sector showed giving of up to 23% despite profits falling almost 30%.

High Net Worth Individuals – Large scale private giving is strong, with a steady increase since 2016. Overall, HNW give preference to supporting Universities, Arts and Culture, Health / Medical Research and the Environment.
A whole suite of informative reports and analysis is available on the JB Were website including: Top 50 Corporates (2020), and a detailed report on High Net Worth Individuals (due to be released 30th April).
John’s closing message was “we expect a swift recovery in giving post the COVID-19 fallout but don’t lose sight of the longer-term dramatic changes taking place in Australian giving”.

What I know about philanthropy

Keynote Speaker, David Callahan, Founder and Editor of Inside Philanthropy delivered a session on ‘What I know about philanthropy‘ offering insight into his decades experience reporting on philanthropic funders in the USA.
David is of the opinion that if funders want to make an impact, they need to be tuned into both local issues and larger threats to our society as a whole. This helps them understand where to focus their funds, and what issues need to be addressed in funding submissions.
Even with a keen eye on the future, many philanthropists are struggling to find impact evidence. David shared that few funders have reliable or detailed data on what impact charities can actually achieve. They have turned to intermediaries or searching U.S. databases like GiveWell and Charity Navigator. He advises you can stand out by having strong and well-founded impact evidence in your submissions.

Questions remain about how PAFs give

Questions remain about how PAFs give. Donors can reshape society for better – or worse. While David focused on the U.S.A, F&P Content Director, Clare Joyce outlined there are parallels to the Australian philanthropic scene.
In the USA there is growing concern in how large funders like Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos use their wealth to drive agendas often outside of government or community priorities. These and other philanthropists are being criticised for their control over non-profits and being too risk adverse.
At the same time, there are the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates and Mackenzie Scott using their fortunes for proven programs of change. They are funding projects and organisations that seek to change the world they live comfortably in.

COVID19 changes unlikely to remain

While many philanthropists changed their ways during COVID19, they are unlikely to retain these changes. For example, general operating support is important to allow organisations to address community needs as they emerge and build long-term sustainability. Many funders have allowed funding for this but few have committed to it for the long-term.
It is a mixed bag of fortunes for those seeking philanthropy in 2021 – some funders are open to new giving priorities while many are sticking to old habits. No matter their priorities, the fundamentals to strategically engage, build evidence and cultivate relationships remains.

We hope you enjoyed dining on our smorgasbord of informative and eclectic sessions.

If you would like to talk to our team members who attended, about any of the above content, call out. We’d love to chat.