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Australian Development NGOs: Unified, Growing, Achieving - ACFID Annual Statistical Survey Report

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In Australia, regular polls assess the public’s stance on aid and development, however, hard data is rarely gathered to gauge support levels. Currently, 1.5 million Australians actively donate to Australian aid and development NGOs.

Since 1985, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) has undertaken a Statistical Survey of its member NGOs on an annual basis. For the first time in 2015, ACFID partnered with the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University (ANU) to analyse a robust dataset that reflects the income and disbursement of Australian aid and development NGOs during 2013 and 2014.

As the only survey of its kind in Australia, the data provides valuable insights into levels of public support for the work of Australian aid and development NGOs. The data also gives us a better understanding of how the sector is tracking in a broader sense, allowing us to explore the answers to key questions such as: How is the Australian aid and development sector evolving? What are the sectoral and geographical distributions and priorities of development activities undertaken by NGOs? Who is supporting the work of Australian aid and development NGOs?

This year’s data tells a story of growth among Australian NGOs. When we look back at one of the first Annual Statistical Surveys completed in 1985, ACFID had 35 members who together, raised a total of $63 million for international development programming. Thirty years later, the sector and ACFID’s membership has been steadily growing. In 2013 and 2014, ACFID’s 132 members raised a combined total of $1.5 billion annually for international development, standing together behind ACFID’s vision of a sector ‘united for a just, equitable and sustainable world.’ Meanwhile, Australian NGOs continue to enjoy strong and enduring support from the Australian community. Public donations have been increasing steadily since 2011, with these generous donations representing the largest source of funding for NGOs. Given the recent, substantial cuts to the Australian government aid program - $1 billion in last year’s Federal Budget - these donations have become a particularly important source of funding for NGO work in regions such as Africa and Asia.

It is now clearer than ever that the sector receives much of its power from volunteers with 28,703 passionate people donating their time to help Australian aid and development NGOs.
The data collected also indicates there are still important gains to be made, with new analysis of female leadership in Australian NGOs pointing to underrepresentation at both Board and CEO levels. We must ensure gender equality is enshrined in our own organisations, as well as through international development efforts.

ACFID’s Annual Statistical Survey shows how increasingly diverse ACFID’s membership has become, with many small vibrant NGOs that often specialise in one specific theme or location. While the sector continues to be dominated by a number of larger NGOs, smaller NGOs are now a crucial and influential part of the sector and, combined, raise nearly as much as some of ACFID’s largest members.

In presenting this report, ACFID is grateful for the expertise and collaboration of the Development Policy Centre. We also sincerely thank all ACFID members and their staff for the time and effort invested in completing the survey.
Without your ongoing contributions to the survey, we would not have the stories we have today of a unified and active sector.