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What do you get from giving?

Australians are a generous bunch. In fact, Australia was ranked on the World Giving Index 20111 as the third most giving country. The study included the millions of dollars in tax-deductible donations made by citizens, but what do we get out of giving?

According to a recent survey by Edelman2, 64 per cent said they had donated money over the past year for societal and community issues, with a particular interest in issues that impact on everyday life, such as health care.

Yet while gifts to “deductible gift recipients” are tax-deductible, most donors aren’t doing it for financial reasons. The Australian Tax Office has revealed that half of all taxpayers are not claiming a deduction for gifts to charity, with Australians giving an average of 0.3 per cent of their income to charity in recent years.

With thousands of charities granted tax-deductible status in Australia, it appears that Australians are not bothering to claim or are making donations by putting coins in a collector’s bucket.

Donating for causes

An informal survey of different ages has revealed similar attitudes towards gift giving.

Elizabeth, aged in her 30s, said she donated when she agreed with the charity or cause, and not for tax reasons.

“I usually donate small amounts every few months, but I give a bigger donation every year for Movember, because my father died from prostate cancer,” she said.

Similarly, a retiree aged in her 60s said it was more about “making the world a better place” than saving on tax.

“I have automatic contributions from my bank account every month to UNICEF and Greenpeace, two organisations which I support due to their activities,” she said. “I don’t like charities that spend lots of money on lavish functions or have large portions spent on administration.”

She said donating to charities was a “lazy way” of making a contribution. However, this seems the preferred method for most, with the Edelman survey finding only 29 per cent of Aussies had donated time and effort to a charity.

Workplace giving

Rabobank employees are encouraged to support local causes through its Community Leave and Workplace Giving initiatives. These allow the option of either making a financial donation matched dollar for dollar by the bank, or sharing their time and skills.

By having pre-tax dollars donated to charity, employees can donate easily and gain an automatic tax deduction without having to search for receipts at tax time.

1. http://www.cafonline.org/pdf/World_Giving_Index_2011_191211.pdf

2. 2012 Edelman goodpurpose Study