Charity-sector insights

The latest Australian Charities Report details Australian charities’ contribution to the economy and communities.

In the 2020 reporting period:


  • Charities employed 10.5 per cent of Australian employees – 1.38 million people
  • There was a rise in the proportion of full-time and part-time staff
  • Education charities employed the most staff – more than 330,000
  • Volunteer contribution was high at 3.4 million, but decreased by 220,000 on the previous period
  • 51 per cent of charities reported no paid staff
  • Environment charities reported the most volunteers – 810,000, and
  • About half of the sector’s expenses were employee expenses


  • Charities’ revenue rose to $176 billion – up by more than $10 billion on the previous period
  • Donations rose by 8 per cent to $12.7 billion
  • Revenue from government rose to $88.8 billion – up $10.7 billion on the previous period, accounting for 50.4 per cent of total revenue
  • Other major revenue sources were goods and services (32.5 per cent) and donations or bequests (7.2 per cent), and
  • The 50 largest charities by revenue accounted for 33 per cent of total sector revenue


  • Expenses increased by $10.2 billion.

The report is based on data that 49,000 charities submitted in their 2020 annual information statements – most reporting on the 2020 calendar year or the 2019 –20 financial year.

JobKeeper payments to ACNC-registered charities supported an estimated 331,000 individuals between April and September 2020. This reduced to about 128,000 individuals between October and December 2020, and 86,000 between January and March 2021.

For the first time, the report has collected ‘program’ data, giving an insight into the work of the sector across 75,000 programs. About 7 per cent of charities reported that they operated overseas. Some 217 countries or regions were named. The five most common were Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Kenya, and Papua New Guinea.