NFPs Ignore Census Data at their Peril

Posted on June 1, 2017

Are we really living in a post truth, fact free society?

No. Even though Fake News! has been playing out across the globe for close to twelve months now... even though a post-truth narrative threatens media, politics and science.

The real truth is, facts are more important, powerful and useful than ever before. They exist around us in more detail and have more to say.


JBWere’s 2016 Cause Report paints a disturbing picture for not for profits. Australia is currently experiencing NFP saturation, with the highest ratio of NFPs to Australians on record (1:422). The research also reveals that a whopping 92% of NFP assets and income is controlled by a mere 8% of organisations. At the same time, the NAB Charitable Giving Index shows that the rate of charitable giving by Australians fell in the 12 months to August 2016. With a resilient national economy, this would appear to have more to do with changing attitudes than uncertain times.

Only those NFPs that are prepared to track trends and ask themselves how external and internal patterns of behaviour might influence their future are able to safeguard their future. NFPs that ask, ‘How can we interpret data in practical ways?’ ultimately respond more appropriately to the marketplace.


At the recent Changing Face of Australia Leaders’ Breakfast hosted by Social Impact Institute, McCrindle and Clayton Utz, award winning author and social researcher Mark McCrindle explained the emerging trends exposed by the latest 2016 Census data release. 

NFP Leaders' Breakfast Video Recap - Watch Now!

The data revealed the following:

1. We are ageing. Of our 24.5 million residents, the ‘typical Australian’ is a 38-year old Gen X woman (born in 1979) who can expect to live to the aged of 85. One year older than the typical Australian 5 years ago, she is married with 2 children and lives in her own home in one of Australia’s capital cities. Her home is worth $825,980, of which she owns $427,847 equity, the bulk of her wealth. She works full-time and, along with 69% of all commuters, gets to work by car.

2. We are culturally diverse. The ‘typical’ resident in three Australian states (NSW, VIC and WA) is someone with at least one parent born overseas. Furthermore, the top countries of origin for Australian immigrants are shifting away from what they were a decade ago. China is now the top country of birth for residents who were born overseas in NSW, and India is the top country of birth for residents who were born overseas in VIC.

3. It’s less common for Australians to own their home outright anymore. The typical person across all of the states and territories no longer owns a home outright but is paying off a mortgage. Only NSW and TAS feature the typical person who owns a home outright. In the NT, the typical person is renting their home.

4. We are less likely to engage with a charity long term. Australians are twice as likely to give a one off donation than to donate regularly (56% versus 28%), and are also twice as likely to volunteer for an event than be an ongoing volunteer (21% versus 11%).

5. We are particular about the charities we support. Knowing and trusting the charity is the top motivation (68%) for Australians to get involved with a charity. When assessing charities, 72% of Australians say that it is essential that administration costs are kept below 20% and that charities can verify their registration. 71% believe that transparent reporting of administration costs is vital. 65% say that it’s important to know where donations are going and that they also expect to receive reports on specific impacts and costs.

6. We are responding less to traditional marketing methods. Due to the habits of Gen Y (23-37 year olds), the most successful advertising campaigns over the next decade will be delivered via social media rather than traditional methods such as mass media, door knocking, phone calls and direct mail. 




Data not only tells us about our growing, ageing, increasingly diverse, generationally transitioning population, it also enables us to observe trends and gain practical insights into the needs and motivations of our changing community.

Social Impact Institute has proven itself adept at helping not for profits navigate their way through the lessons we learnt at the Changing Face of Australia Breakfast and what that means for the not for profit sector. Services are available throughout Australia, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and regional areas. Call us on 1800 822 763 to have a chat or book your consultation today. 

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