Led by Creative Partnerships Australia, and commissioned by the Department of Social Services (DSS) for the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership, a new research report, Collective giving and its role in Australian philanthropy, sheds light on the emergence of collective giving.
While forms of mutual giving have been around for centuries, the form of collective giving discussed in the report is a pretty new model in Australia. Collective giving is donor-initiated and involves individuals coming together, pooling their resources and collectively deciding where the funds will be dispersed to “do public good”. There is usually an educational and/or community-building component of the collective.
The research draws on the experience of 17 collective giving groups (there are 40 known groups in Australia) with memberships varying from 10 to a few hundred and located in every jurisdiction in Australia except the Northern Territory. The report also includes perspectives of organisations that host giving groups and charities that received grants.
“Collecting giving can take many forms, but what these community-driven initiatives all have in common is the potential to cultivate more engaged, more knowledgeable and more lasting philanthropists, and to grow philanthropy in Australia overall,” said Creative Partnerships CEO Fiona Menzies on the release of the report.
“Most of the donors we interviewed reported a better understanding of how philanthropy works and the needs of the community through their involvement in collective giving. Importantly, they also displayed a longer-term commitment to giving, and an increase in the amount they give.”
Key findings from the research note that collective giving groups:
- are increasing in Australia, becoming prominent in the last six years
- have a common goal to ‘do public good’ and grow philanthropy
- are mostly operated by volunteers
- give close to 100% of funds raised to their selected charities
- have predominately female membership, with the majority in the 41-65 years of age range
- impacted on members’ giving behaviours, increasing:
- the amount of money they gave to charities and causes each year
- the degree to which they considered effectiveness of the organisations supported, and
- their sense of well-being.
General observations from the research are that there is a lack of awareness about collective giving in Australia, although its profile recently had a mainstream media boost, a champion or advisor is needed to get a collective off the ground, and that the establishment of collectives can be deterred by the complexities of charitable and tax laws. Ongoing challenges faced by collective giving groups include negotiating the philanthropic landscape, donor recruitment, burden of workload, administrative burden of fulfilling promises, growth and scalability, operational costs, a lack of philanthropic literacy that may affect the relationship between the host (often community foundations) and the giving group, and achieving sustainable impact.
The report raised the possibility of a peak body as a future enabler of the growth and sustainability of giving groups.
There is also an enlightening section on international collective giving and mini-case studies of collective giving groups in the USA and here in Australia, including The Funding Network, Awesome Foundation, and Impact100 groups.
According to the report, if Australian collective giving groups mirror the development of their US counterparts (they are about a decade ahead) the beneficial results will be myriad, including: inspiring and connecting donors to each other and to charitable causes, resulting in a multiplier effect in donations, pro bono support and volunteering; improving donor decision-making and increasing knowledge about philanthropy and not-for-profits; building stronger communities by capacity building, growing local knowledge and making connections; and encouraging a stronger and more sustainable charitable sector.
Collective giving is a form of engaged and democratised philanthropy that can have a mighty impact on all involved.
As Hillary Clinton is quoted on one very successful US collective giving group:
“The efforts of Dining for Women have undertaken….all across the country over the past fifteen years provide a powerful example of how individual acts of giving, when aggregated, can make a deep and transformational impact.”
The report was researched and authored by James Boyd, who is a founding member of Impact100WA, and Lee Partridge.
The full report can be found here.
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