ATO Data Analysis – Why the Decrease in Giving 2015-16?

The tax year 2015-16 saw a decrease in tax deductible gifts of $221 million (or 7.2%) from the previous income year. However, the previous year had a spike in giving of $464 million (or 15%) over its previous year. The spike was largely due to the income wealthy, with those having a taxable income over $1 million claiming  an average tax-deductible donations of $98,324.68 (up from $51,978.72 in previous year). This year the average fell back to a little below the 5 year trend line at $50, 128.01.

So it was the taxpayers in the upper bracket which largely caused the decrease, but why?

I am not sure, further research is needed. There are a number of possibilities that previous research has indicated as factors.

We know that those in the top tax brackets tend to tighten their giving in uncertain financial times. The 2015-16 financial year was difficult for investors with:

  • a close and messy federal election,
  • a bear market in most share markets,
  • record low bond yields,
  • financial issues in Greece,
  • a 49% plunge for a period in Chinese shares,
  • numerous IS related terrorist attacks;
  • a “surprise” vote by the UK to Leave the European Union setting off  fears that there will be a domino effect of countries seeking to leave the Eurozone: and
  • the election of Donald Trump.

Also there were no ATO declared Australian natural disasters for the period and that might have some bearing.


Don’t let your qualifications expire! Important message for ACPNS alums


Hayley, ACPNS alumnus and Founder of ATMA, a humanitarian organisation dedicated to improving education for underprivileged children in India

Completed the Graduate Certificate of Business (Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies) in the last few years?

Your credit towards further study may soon expire. 

If you want to be considered for a place in the Master of Business (Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies), we urge you to consider enrolling in mid-2018 or 2019.

Normally your prior studies in the Graduate Certificate of Business (Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies) count as credit towards further study. However, under the Australian Qualifications Framework, this can only occur when your studies are considered ‘current’ – which means within five years of your graduating. If you wait longer than five years you may not be eligible for credit from your previous studies.

This is your chance to further your education and graduate sooner.

What additional areas could I study?

There is a large degree of flexibility in our courses. You can choose to generalise across a range of areas, or focus on disciplines such as management / HR, advertising and marketing or accounting and finance. We can work with you to design a course of study which will help you to achieve your career objectives, whatever they might be.

We also offer Research degrees at the Masters and PhD levels, for eligible students.

How long do I have to decide?

In order for your previous studies to count, you will need to enrol in further study within five years of graduating. Credit can only be granted for previous studies which are considered ‘current’. As you graduated within the last four years you will need to enrol in further study soon in order to receive credit for the units you have already completed.

How much credit will I receive?

Providing you have successfully completed all eight core units of the Graduate Certificate, you will normally receive 48 credit points towards your next course.

So what does that mean for future courses?

It means you can substantially reduce the time and cost of completing further study at ACPNS.

What nonprofit courses can I apply for?

Master of Business (Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies)

Hone your analytical, decision-making, communication and problem solving skills to advance your career. This two year program can be completed in 1.5 years using your credit from the Graduate Certificate as these are effectively the foundation units for the Masters degree.

Apply now and you will gain 48 credit points of study towards your degree.

Why choose ACPNS for further study?

Our courses are designed to equip you with knowledge and skills for a career in the management of philanthropic and nonprofit organisations. Unlike other courses on the market, we have a huge degree of flexibility to design a course of study tailored to your unique needs and aspirations.

Skills critical to nonprofit management, such as problem solving, creative thinking, negotiation, ethical practices, teamwork, leadership, networking and information management are incorporated into the teaching, learning and assessment.

The learning outcomes of our courses have been refreshed to provide you with a more engaging and real world learning experience. Assessment items are practically focussed to develop solutions to real world problems.

You will build skills and knowledge relevant to the specialised third sector and core content is framed by the international Nonprofit Academic Centers Council curriculum.

I’m so busy already – how will I fit it all in?

The majority of ACPNS students are working, have family commitments and other activities that take up a lot of their time. We know that. Our courses are offered part-time or full-time and, where possible, can be tailored to meet your particular interests, time-frames and abilities.

Our lecturers are committed to helping you achieve your study goals and will assist you every step of the way. We provide tailored course planning advice to develop a study plan for each student. Careful planning can help you to balance work, family and study, so please make a time to talk to us early in your course.

Ok, I’d like to find out more – where to from here?

Contact us

You can contact ACPNS by phone on 07 3138 1020 or email to find out more about applying for credit and the study options open to you.


Find out more about credit for prior learning and ACPNS courses online. and ACPNS courses online.


New scholarships and bursaries available to ACPNS students!

Thanks to the generosity of the many wonderful people who have contributed to ACPNS scholarships and bursaries, we have even more opportunities for our new philanthropy, nonprofit and social enterprise students!

Students enrolling in June 2018 and March 2019 may be eligible to apply for:

Need more inspiration?

Why study with the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS)?

We can think of lots of reasons.

If you want to make a positive difference in the world, you’ve come to the right place. At ACPNS we foster community leaders. Our 500+ alumni are highly sought-after in the philanthropy and nonprofit sector and are making a difference in many parts of the world.

You can too.

First rate courses

Highly regarded courses: Our courses are internationally recognised and respected and we are one of the pioneering centres for philanthropy and nonprofit studies in Australia.

Globally recognised qualifications: ACPNS is recognised as an education leader both here and overseas and offers a teaching and research environment focused on building the capability of the third sector in Australia.

Flexibility: Study on campus in Brisbane or online from anywhere. Six week teaching periods allow you to get a valuable qualification under your belt in less than a year.

Tailored to you: Our Masters program can be tailored to your desired focus area, whether that’s fundraising, management, HR or other specialized areas. You may even have the option to complete some of your studies overseas.

Smaller class numbers: The average class number for our Graduate Certificate in Business (Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies) is 42. Smaller classes mean you receive more personalised attention and input from your lecturers.

Build your networks

World-class lecturers: Our lecturers are nonprofit leaders. They are experts in their fields with high level practical experience, a forefront role in philanthropy and nonprofit research and a passion for teaching. They genuinely care about their students’ success. We hear time and time again that what sets us apart is the personal time and attention our students receive from their lecturers.

Like-minded fellow students: You will be studying with people who are just as passionate about the sector as you are and you will become part of a vibrant network of people who have the skills and know-how to bring about positive change.

Lifelong learning: We offer our alumni access to free resources and annual professional development opportunities, allowing them to stay front-and-centre of what’s happening in the sector, long after they’ve left the classroom.

37% – The percentage of ACPNS students who have an active involvement with the Centre, its lecturers and alumni after graduation – much higher than any other area across the university.

Make a difference

Enhance your nonprofit career or transition into a new one: The sector’s demand for qualified professionals continues to grow. By studying with ACPNS, YOU can make a difference by fortifying your credentials as a specialist in the sector.

Use your newfound skills to change the world: Our alumni are making a difference in many parts of the world, changing the lives of thousands of people for the better every day. You can too.

71% – Percentage of ACPNS alumni working in senior/high level positions in the sector

8% – Percentage of ACPNS alumni working in countries other than Australia

7% – Percentage of ACPNS alumni who have founded their own nonprofit or philanthropic organisation

Don’t believe us?

Hear from our students and alumni on how their studies have helped them.

Book in for a consult

We love to chat! To find out more about our courses, simply call us on + 61 7 3138 1020 or email for a free course information pack.


Fire up school fundraising

The biggest money earner at school fetes might come as a surprise, with the humble barbeque beating out amusement rides and cake stalls to rake in the most fundraising dollars, according to research by QUT’s Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies.

  • The first National Fete Research Project reveals fetes are critical to school income and community engagement, but more can be done to increase their success
  • Conducted by QUT’s Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, with support from the Fundraising Directory, the study involved nearly 500 school fete conveners from private, state and faith-based schools across Australia
  • The most profitable fete stall or activity was a barbeque, followed by amusement rides, with a cake stall coming in fifth
  • The average fete profit for a large school (more than 700 students) was approximately $26,000 and for a small school (fewer than 300 students) it was approximately $10,000, with the largest profit from a single fete $93,000

QUT Researcher Marie Balczun said the study showed that schools should not rule out traditional fundraising activities, or be put off from running a fete due to the size of their school community.

“Fetes are often the major fundraiser for a school, with the average fete profit reported to be just under $18,000. While larger schools naturally had higher average profits, smaller schools actually did better on a per student basis, raising more than $70 per student, compared with $30 per student for larger schools,” Ms Balczun said.

“It was interesting to see that while amusement rides were the most popular activity to include in a fete line up, they can’t beat throwing a snag on the barbie, when it comes to the final fundraising tally. After a barbeque, rides come in as the second most profitable, followed by raffles, auctions and cake stalls,” she said.

The report provides key tips from fete organisers, to help improve the running of a fete and boost profits. These include:

1. Start early – a year out if possible, straight after the previous fete.

2. Use online signup for volunteers – this will help with recruitment.

3. Prioritise safety – have someone responsible for Occupational Health and Safety matters.

4. Hire a portable ATM – more cash means more sales.

5. Have a wet weather plan – especially for the rides.

QUT Associate Professor Wendy Scaife, director of The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, said there was also a key opportunity to involve more men in the running of fetes.

“Apart from security roles, females made up most of the volunteers,” Professor Scaife said.

“In fact, more than three-quarters of volunteers are female and, when it comes to the organising committee, that number jumps to almost 90%,” she said.

Research partner Mandy Weidmann from the Fundraising Directory said the research aimed to give fete organisers access to benchmarks and guidance that have not previously existed.

“For example, only 40% of state and private schools in the study received a handover report from the previous fete,” Ms Weidmann said.

“Information sharing such as this could save time, and stress, and make fetes even more profitable,” she said.

One area that remained contentious though, was the role of alcohol at school fetes.

“On average, alcohol was only available at 30 percent of fetes and attitudes remain mixed on the issue,” Professor Scaife said.

“Some schools saw it as inappropriate, with a view that fetes without alcohol have a more family friendly atmosphere. Others reported it was popular and easy to keep as a ‘kid-free’ zone,” she said.

The full report can be downloaded free at QUT ePrints.

Media contact: 
Rebecca Nardi, QUT Media, 3138 9449 or
After hours, Rose Trapnell, QUT Media team leader, 0407 585 901,

Thank you for celebrating #QUTGivingDay with us!

Thank you so much to all those who attended ACPNS & Nicole Gibson’s ‘Does Giving Make You Happy’ event, and helped us celebrate #QUTGivingDay!

A special thank you to the incredible Nicole Gibson who, through her openness, passion and beautiful #giving nature, inspired us all to embrace our humanity and kindness and to #give with all our hearts. Thank you, Nicole.

You can view the video recording of Nic’s speech here. If you missed purchasing her fab book, Love Out Loud, you can buy it online now.

New ACPNS website launching soon!

New and improved site coming soon!

In 2018 we’ll be launching the new and improved ACPNS website! It will feature four easy-to-navigate areas including:


Our Research pages will give you an in-depth look at past, present and future ACPNS projects, including access to the reports, key findings and in some instances, the ability to play with the data. You’ll even have the opportunity to participate and/or commission specific research projects.

Our new Giving Australia pages will feature blogs, VLOGS, webinars, reports and weekly key findings. The data coming out of this project is a must-know for all those working in the philanthropy and nonprofit sector!


Our Courses pages will be expanded to include; an overview of the philanthropy and nonprofit sector to see where and how ACPNS courses fit in; the types of people undertaking study with us; future career paths and jobs available to those with philanthropy and nonprofit qualifications; and of course how YOU can benefit by being empowered with the skills and knowledge to follow your passion for making a positive difference in the world.


We love sharing our fabulous, free resources. ACPNS exists to support the sector and with access to our Resources pages you’ll see first-hand one way in which we do this. Selecting by interest, you’ll uncover a wealth of information pertinent to you. Specific pages full of valuable resources will be available for a range of sector individuals and groups.

News & Events

A great way to keep your finger on the pulse on what’s happening in the sector! Find out all about our upcoming events and nonprofit news.


The new site will be launched shortly – so stay tuned!

Comparing Apples, Oranges and Lemons Dressed Up As Mangoes

We thank Pro Bono for publishing this article.

Emeritus Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes looks at the three KPIs the sector can use to judge the new ACNC commissioner Dr Gary Johns in his mission to make charities more transparent.

The new ACNC commissioner wants charities to be transparent. So how will we know if the new commissioner succeeds in his transparency goal five years hence?

For me, there are three KPIs on which the sector and community might judge the results.

The government currently mandates generic accounting standards through the AASB that are not fit for charity transparency purposes.

They do not provide what many users (including donors) want – a template to benchmark or compare financial accounts – let alone indicators of efficiency, or even effectiveness.

To illustrate the point, I recently provided three sets of AASB compliant accounts to a meeting of seasoned sector donors, decades-long professionals who chair charity boards, award-winning regulators and experienced government funders.

Unbeknownst to the small groups looking at them, everybody had the same underlying transactions – just classified differently as allowed by the vanilla AASB standards. Yet when asked to investigate their charity’s administration and fundraising costs each group – each deeply experienced group – arrived at wildly different answers.

The penny fell with a thud to the floor when the identical base transactions were revealed to all. Under current AASB standards, it is not a case of “can you do the accounts”, but “what would you like the accounts to be?”

Transparency of financial accounts is of limited value if you are comparing apples, oranges and lemons dressed up as mangoes. It doesn’t matter how deep you drill with a digital hipster uberised Internet app. We have five years of mixed quality and different accounting treatments that no amount of visual graphing, cleansing, or cooking of the books is going to provide donors or anyone else with any significant clarification about an individual charity’s performance against others.

So…KPI One – Having the AASB agree to a fit for purpose not-for-profit accounting standards such as the UK’s Standard of Recommended Practice (SORP), or Singapore, Canada or New Zealand’s specific accounting standards to give charities an important tool for transparency.

The new commissioner talks of a donor market. Classic economic theory has not-for-profit organisations arising and thriving historically in failed community service markets because for-profit firms couldn’t successfully operate there. The theory goes that donors and consumers place trust in the legal constraints that define a not for profit and more lately in the government providing a taxpayer-funded accreditation of these legal constraints in licensed organisations.

Can the regulatory levers be pulled to boost donor influence to mimic the role of buyers in the widget market? Would donors then discriminate among organisations with their support, as occurs in the rationally-minded scenario of widget buyers and sellers imagined by economists?

Governments have been trying to harness the market paradigm recently to create functional markets where none have existed, sometimes with spectacular failures such as vocational training.

Care is needed in pulling the right levers.

To create such a functioning market, the commissioner will, among other things, have to raise the number of donors recognising that there is an ACNC and a database, and then motivate them to expend effort to use and understand its metrics.

The public recognition of the ACNC is too low, with the ACNC’s recent research showing only one in 20 Australians being able to recall the ACNC unprompted.

Then the really difficult task will be to convert donors from giving as an emotional response to the opposite: a rational cost-benefit decision accompanied by search costs with little immediate emotional reward. The evidence suggests few donors outside staffed foundations and family offices operate this way anywhere in the world.

KPI Two – Screen those accessing the ACNC database and aim to have self-disclosed donors as the majority of the users.

Charity regulation requires a continual balancing of a diverse range of well targeted and context-specific strategies. Magic bullets, and particularly those based on an ideological approach rather than evidence, are doomed to fail.

Donors are only a part of the balancing act. Strategies for putting the worst of the worst charity rogues’ heads on sticks at the market square entrance, educating volunteers about how to comply, building giving norms and cultures, nudging and modelling compliant behaviours, licencing, auditing, accreditation and co-opting various third parties (including donors) to assist in achieving your regulatory objectives are all required in appropriate measures at the right time.

The biggest bang for the regulatory buck is currently with those closest to the action – the board and committee members who are appointed to act in the best interests of the mission of each charity.

Employing regulatory strategies to make them sensitive to the needs of donors, funders, and people who use their services is a winner both in enduring compliance and cost-effectiveness for all actors.

The commissioner should not overlook that the ACNC Act specifies that the ACNC is to reduce unnecessary red tape and support and sustain a robust, vibrant, independent Australian not-for-profit sector.

The commissioner’s political experience and nous are well suited to wrestling state and federal agencies to the table to clear away the dross of forms, fees and particularly WA’s prohibition of charities collecting from donors passing by in stage coaches (an indicator of the need for updated charity legislation in anyone’s language).

KPI Three – Having all states and territories use the ACNC register as the single point of truth, fix fundraising, having government funding agencies adopt the Charity Passport, and the National Standard Chart of Accounts for small charity funding acquittals.

Introducing Simplified Business Reporting for larger charities is also a worthy stretch KPI.

About the author: Emeritus Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes OAM is the Founding Director of ACPNS. He has written extensively about not-for-profit tax and regulation, NFP legal entities, government grants and standard charts of accounts as a means of reducing the compliance burden. He is a founding member of the ATO Charities Consultative Committee and the Australian Charities and Not for profits Commission Advisory Board. In June 2003, he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the community by providing education and support in legal, financial and administrative matters to nonprofit organisations.

Read more about the need for transparency of financial accounts and the need for a more streamlined approach to accounting for the nonprofit sector in the Defining and Accounting for Fundraising Income and Expenses report:

Inspiring alumni: Kylee Bates

Kylee Bates
CEO of Ardoch Youth Foundation

Listen to Kylee’s podcast which includes great tips on entering the philanthropy and nonprofit sector

What are you doing now?

I’m the CEO of Ardoch Youth Foundation a children’s education charity that provides educational support programs to children and young people living in disadvantaged communities.  I’ve been in this role around seven months and it’s a great organisation that really seems to punch above its weight.  We have a small paid staff of 19 but a volunteer base of over 1400 who are core to the delivery of our programs and with just under $2 million cash revenue last year we helped over 11,000 children and young people across more than 70 schools and early years services.

In my ‘spare’ time I’m the volunteer World President of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) – a global membership organisation focused on promoting, supporting and celebrating volunteering throughout the world.  Our board is global and we have over 800 members across 70+ countries. 

We’ve been following some of the fantastic stories of support through the Ardoch Youth Foundation site. One we particularly love is that of Faye McDougall, a retired optometrist who boards the Chatterbox Bus each fortnight, a mobile service that traverses through Melbourne’s CBD and inner suburbs looking for at-risk teenagers to provide them with bedding, toiletries, computer access, crisis accommodation, food and drinks.


Faye McDougall, donating her time in support of education in disadvantaged communities

Inspiring alumni: Eduardo Camardelli with The Global Fund

Eduardo Camardelli
Finance Specialist at The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Listen to Eduardo’s podcast which includes great tips on entering the philanthropy and nonprofit sector

What are you doing now?

I am working for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Global Fund invests funds from donor countries and private institutions in more than 140 countries all over the world, with a portfolio turnover of about 10-12 billion dollars every 3 years on average. I am based in Geneva (Switzerland) with my wife and 2 young sons. I am a Finance Specialist within one of the High Impact departments (High Impact Africa II), comprised of 7 African nations. I am working with sub-Saharan African countries that are implementing public health programs to tackle the three diseases, using donor funds. We work closely with United Nations agencies and Programs, Governments, Embassies, International NGOs, Local NGOs, Foundations, Universities and various other stakeholders involved in the Public Health space. In my role, I travel 3-4 times per year to each of the 2-3 African nations I support in particular, where we conduct grant implementation and grant-making missions, audits, trainings, policy development, high level political meetings, donor-coordination forums and more.

We have been following some of the many ways in which The Global Fund is fighting diseases worldwide. We particularly loved this story about Ramadhan Milanzi who is a survivor of tuberculosis (TB) who now donates his time to locating and helping rural victims of TB.


Ramadhan Milanzi, a traditional healer in Dar es Salaam, attends to a patient.

Inspired by our amazing alumni: Andrew Judge

We are constantly inspired and amazed by the work our alumni are doing, and 2017 is no exception. Below are just a handful of alumni who are making a big difference in the sector. We love following their journeys and hearing their stories.

Andrew Judge
CEO, SurfAid

Andrew Judge is the CEO of SurfAid International, a humanitarian organisation whose aim is to improve the health, wellbeing and self-reliance of people living in isolated regions connected through surfing. The organisation works with, and in support of, the community – from the idea for a program to the implementation of the program.
This year SurfAid is proud to celebrate 15 years of supporting communities in remote areas throughout the Asia Pacific region. Andrew says:

“Coming from the private sector, my studies with ACPNS have been invaluable. They’ve given me valuable insights around management, compliance, accounting and fundraising in a nonprofit organisation as well as a clear perspective of how boards operate. Without the grounding the Centre provided, I wouldn’t have been able to work as I have with SurfAid.”

This year we loved following along on the SurfAid blog, in particular reading about Ibu Nurmah, a poor woman living in the extremely remote village of Prado, Indonesia. To help her fellow villagers, Ibu generously donated some of her land so that SurfAid and the community could build a Posyandu (a community health post) where the locals can congregate and receive basic health services and information.

SurfAid Country Director Anne Wuijts talking with Ibu Nurmah about her generous land donation.