Australia’s 10,398 PAFs, PuAFs and grant-making trusts gave more than $4 billion in 2016.

Australia’s 10,398 PAFs, PuAFs and grant-making trusts gave more than $4 billion in 2016.

Australia’s grantmaking charities now hold more than $56 billion in assets and provide over $4 billion annually in grants and donations, according to a new report by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).

Australia’s Grant-making Charities in 2016, a sub-report of the Australian Charities Report 2016, examined the activities of 10,398 charities (including private and public ancillary funds, as well as other trusts) that distribute grants and donations to other organisations.

The research was produced by the ACNC in partnership with the Centre for Social Impact and the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, based on data provided by the organisations to the ACNC at the end of the 2016 financial year.

According to the report, grant-making charities secured over $16.5 billion in total annual revenue during 2016. However, just 2% of the organisations had revenue over $10 million, suggesting a disproportionate share was secured by a small number of large organisations.

Just under half of the organisations in the study (45.3%) reported one revenue source, with the figure significantly lower for PuAFs at 31.7%.

Grantmaking charities employed a total of 103,211 paid staff supported by 337,288 volunteers, although 80.8% of the organisations operated with no paid staff.

In terms of the purpose of the grants, 39.2% were for capacity building, 14% for rural and regional recipients, 37.1% distributed through public or open processes, and 23.6% as part of multi-year grants.

The research also pointed to a rapid surge in the number of PAFs in Australia, with the number growing from less than 200 in 2002-02 to around 1,300 in 2014-15.

In a statement ACNC commissioner Gary Johns said the report “provides data which illustrates the many forms philanthropy and giving can take in Australia”.

“The charity sector is Australia’s second largest employer – of which grant-making charities are part,” he said.

“Grants are predominantly used to build the capacity and capabilities of a charity, to provide support services or advocate for or against an issue.

“For example, some grants may support an existing long-term project to completion, while others may help that project to expand in another area in need.

“Funding from grants can be used as the starting point for a charity to commence new service offerings or to help more beneficiaries.”

Australia’s Grant-making Charities in 2016 is now available to download at, along with the full Australian Charities Report 2016 and interactive data cube.