Spending money for good
With thousands of charities competing for your donation, it's
important to do some research to make sure your money is being used
for the cause you want to support. It is also essential to make
sure that the charity is actually receiving your donation.
Here are some things to think about before you donate.
Choosing a charity
Your decision to support one charity over another is usually
based on your interest in the cause the charity supports. You may
also choose a charity as a way of remembering a deceased relative
or friend. Whatever your motivation, it's important to make sure
you are comfortable with the charity's activities and how it plans
to use the donations it receives.
Donating directly to an overseas-based charity can be risky as
it may be difficult to verify the information found on websites or
social media sites.
You may prefer to donate to an Australian charity that supports
the cause or project you're interested in. Many Australian
charities operate overseas but are based in Australia.
Ways to donate
If you've donated to a charity before, the charity will keep
your contact details for future campaigns. If you want to stop
being contacted you can ask to be removed from their
There are a number of ways you can donate.
One-off or ongoing
You may decide to make a regular, set donation or you may prefer
making a one-off donation following a particular fundraising
campaign or an urgent need, like a natural disaster. Sometimes a
charity will approach you directly for a cash donation or to
participate in a fundraiser such as a raffle. This can happen on
the street, over the phone or at your front door.
You can also support a charity through automatic deductions from
your salary. If your employer has a workplace giving scheme your
donation can be deducted from your pay and sent directly to your
You will gain tax benefits at the time of donation and receive a
summary of payment at the end of the year.
To participate in any workplace giving program, the charity must
have deductible gift recipient (DGR) status.
For more information about setting up a workplace giving
program, see the Australian Taxation Office's information on
setting up a workplace giving program.
Bequest in your will
Another way of donating is to leave a bequest in your will.
Contact the charity directly to discuss your plans.
Donating to charity doesn't necessarily mean a cash donation.
You can contribute to your favourite charity by making a donation
of goods, your time or even your skills or expertise.
Check it's a
Questions to ask
If the name of the charity is unfamiliar, you should ask for
more information about the charity, for example:
- What cause do you support?
- Where is the charity based?
- What are donations used for?
- Are you affiliated with any other charities or
- Are donations tax deductible?
It pays to be careful, even if you get a satisfactory response
to these questions.
Even if you've heard of the charity, you should check that the
person who contacts you is authorised to represent the charity.
If you've been approached face-to-face, ask to see some
identification and a copy of the charity's pledge form. These
- the full name of the organisation
- the corporate registration number such as an Australian
- the business address
- the organisation's logo
You should also call the charity directly to verify their
contact details. Be sure to cross check their phone number in the
You can also check the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits
Commission (ACNC) website, to see if the charity is
Be wary of giving credit card details
If you've been contacted by phone do not give out your credit
card or banking details. There will be other ways of donating if
it's a reputable charity.
Ask about these options and make sure you check the validity of
any website or social media page you're directed to.
To find out about the latest charity scams see the ACCC's
SCAMwatch charity scams webpage.
Check if it's tax deductible
A donation is only tax deductible if it is given to a charity
that has been endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as a
deductible gift recipient (DGR) organisation.
To receive a deduction the donation must be two dollars or more
and must be claimed in your tax return for the income year in which
the donation was made. In some circumstances, you can elect to
spread the tax deduction over five income years. For more
information visit the ATO's gifts and donations
You can check if an organisation is a DGR by visiting the Australian Business
Register or phoning the ATO on 13 28 61.
Complain if you have a
You can complain about a charity to the relevant state or
territory regulator. To find the regulator in your state visit the
ATO: State and territory
government requirements - fundraising. You can also complain to
the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission if the
charity is registered, see the ACNC: Raise
a concern about a charity webpage.
Australian charities working in the area of overseas aid, who
get funding from AusAID, are required to be members of the
Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), and must
adhere to the ACFID Code of Conduct. For more information about the
code, including its signatories and how to register a complaint,
see the ACFID: Code of Conduct
Donating is a great thing to do but you should
always check the legitimacy of a charity before you donate.
Last updated: 02 Mar 2016