Speaking broadly about philanthropy

With the Harriet Buhai Centre for Family Law focussing on private donors as their main source of funding (cash) outside government, it raises the challenge of whether such a strategy could be successful in Australia, given the differences in philanthropic cultures between the United States and Australia.

During my stay in Los Angeles I was quickly exposed to the philanthropic generosity of Americans when I visited The Broad, a new modern art museum built by philanthropist Eli and Edthye Broad.

Even for an art philistine like me, it was clear that this was a significant and valuable collection with art works by Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Roy Lichtenstein, amongst others. The collection is housed in a new architecturally designed building which is a work of art itself. I had the pleasure of visiting this museum for the price of a one-hour stand in line for entry (that was because I was not organised enough to book my free ticket before turning up!)


Untitled, Barbara Kruger (Your body is a battleground)

A visit to The Broad gave me a small insight into the depth of philanthropic culture of the United States.

In 2014 Australian charities had a combined income of $103 billion in 2014. The break down of the incomes sources was $54.5 billion from income and revenue; $42 billion from government sources; and $6.8 billion from donations and bequests. So 6.6% of Australian charitable sources came from donations of money[1].

Only 1% of the charities in Australia were the in the area of law, advocacy and politics. This is 513 charities out of total 37,242 charities.

In 2014 Americans gave an estimated $354.38 billion to charities. The sources of the 2014 charitable income consisted of: 72% from individuals; 5% from corporations;15% from foundations; and 8% from bequests[2].

I acknowledge that in Australia we have enjoyed a greater social safety net, and that too is evident in my short travels so far. However, based on the figures, if community legal centres are to rely on funds by private donors, there are some challenges ahead.

[1] Australian Charities and Not-For-Profit Commission (2014) Australian Charities report 2014 Summary: All Charities. (http://australiancharities.acnc.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Australian-Charities-Report-Summary-FinalWeb.pdf)

[2] Giving USA (November 2015) Spotlight (pp5-6)(http://givingusa.org/giving-usa-2015-press-release-giving-usa-americans-donated-an-estimated-358-38-billion-to-charity-in-2014-highest-total-in-reports-60-year-history/)



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