Churchgoers reward Catholic charities

Churchgoers are more generous to charity than non-believers while the Church is Australia's biggest non-profit organisation with $16.2 billion in income for 2005, according to two recent surveys.

The Age reports that churchgoers give about twice as much to charity as non-believers, with people aged 25 to 44 the most generous, according to a study by the Christian Research Association.

But the Association's researcher Philip Hughes says they are more likely to support specific programs such as aid projects than simply to put money in a collection, which is why many individual churches are struggling financially.

The Association has just published its findings about giving money, based on a government report into philanthropy published in October, the National Church Life Survey, and other research. Donations by individual Australians nearly doubled between 1997 and 2004.

"Australians generally are more wealthy, they have an increased capacity to give," Dr Hughes said yesterday. "In churches, those who were nominal have tended to drop out, so you are left with the more committed group who give more but there's fewer of them."

Individuals gave $7.7 billion to charity in 2004, not counting money given following the Asian tsunami, with 87 per cent making donations averaging $424. Business donated $3.3 billion. Among people who profess any religion, 89 per cent made donations, averaging $460 in the year, while 84 per cent of non-church goers made donations, averaging $223.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Mail reports on the Business Review Week "Report on the Business of Giving" that found the Catholic Church raked in $16.2 billion last year, more than double the wealth of Australia's richest man, James Packer.

Hospitals contributed about $5 billion, as did schools and nursing homes, to the country's biggest non-profit organisation.

James Packer became Australia's richest man, with a fortune of $7.1 billion, after the death of his father, Kerry, in December. His father's $6 million contribution to charity is ranked 13th in the BRW report.

RSL Care was the top non-religious charity, earning $648 million last year, followed by the Red Cross with $527 million.

Fundraising for tsunami victims boosted Caritas Australia's revenue by 175 per cent to $40.6 million, while UNICEF doubled its revenue to more than $28 million.

Private Philanthropy: Saving grace for charities (Advertiser, 2/7/06) Church-goers lead way when it comes to charity (The Age, 3/7/06)
Charity begins at home: $1b pledged (SMH, 3/7/06)
God's business (The Age, 30/6/06 - PDF)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Business Review Weekly

Church justifies tax exemption "windfall" (CathNews, 1/5/06)
Govt Christmas present for charities (CathNews, 23/12/05)

3 Jul 2006