Four of Australia's top five charities are Christian

Christian organisations have topped a list of the nation’s top fundraising charities.

Research by Pareto Fundraising, presented at the Fundraising Institute of Australia’s annual conference in Melbourne this week, revealed the top four of the Top Five charities based on fundraising income in 2012/2013 were Christian-based:

  1. World Vision
  2. Salvation Army Eastern
  3. Salvation Army Southern
  4. Compassion Australia
  5. Australian Red Cross

Christian organisations in the list beat out several of Australia’s best-known charities including Cancer Council NSW, Oxfam, Amnesty International and St Vincent de Paul Society.

According to Pareto co-founder Sean Triner, World Vision is miles ahead in the fundraising stakes, with a $270 million fundraising income in the 2012/13 period. Salvation Army Eastern came in a distant second, at just under $100 million.

World Visions Director of Individual Supporters, Matt Davis says the difference comes down to World Vision’s history.

“We’re one of the more established charities, in international development work for 60 years and child sponsorship for over 30 years. With a pledge program like child sponsorship, where people stay with us for 10 years plus, ultimately that turns into quite a significant commitment.”

Davis says the connection a supporter gets from child sponsorship is also significant. “You’re not just giving money to someone shaking a can on the street. That sense of connection is a really big thing.”

But it’s Compassion Australia that has “snuck up” on industry insiders, said Triner, calling the Christian, child-sponsorship organisation the “dark horse” of the Top 5. He told the conference audience that Compassion was “brilliant at reaching its target audience: Christian women.”

Compassion’s CEO Tim Hanna too says at the heart of the organisation’s strategy is a “genuine connection with our supporters.”

“Our supporters don’t just fund our work in releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name—they are actually a fundamental part of it. The relationship that sponsors build with their sponsored children is a key part of our programs’ effectiveness in changing children’s lives.”

It would seem the child sponsorship model is a successful one for World Vision and Compassion, though there are different structures in that model which cause some uncertainty into where child sponsorship money is actually directed, as Eternity reported on in 2013.

Pareto’s research also found that 87 per cent of funds raised by Australian charities are the result of face-to-face marketing. Australia’s most generous state (based on giving per capita) is NSW, followed by the ACT and Victoria.