Australia is a giving country, but we often give in kind rather than financially.
Whenever there is a disaster here or overseas, Australians rush to donate their time, household goods and cash. However, we still lag other countries when it comes to giving money.
According to Philanthropy Australia, our total financial giving as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product is just 0.81 per cent, compared with 0.96 per cent for the UK, 1 per cent for Canada, 1.84 per cent for New Zealand and 2.1 per cent for the US.i
Currently the number of Australians making tax deductible contributions is at its lowest levels since the 1970s.ii Despite this, the Australian Tax Office reports that deductible donations claimed by individuals rose from $0.74 billion in 1999-2000 to $3.85 billion in 2019-20.iii
Considering an estimated $2.6 trillion will pass between generations over the next 20 years, the opportunities for increasing our financial giving abound. Philanthropy Australia wants to double structured giving from $2.5 billion in 2020 to $5 billion by 2030.iv
Many ways to give
There are many ways of being philanthropic such as small one-off donations, regular small amounts to say, sponsor a child, donating to a crowd funding platform or joining a giving circle.
For those with much larger sums to distribute, a structured giving plan can be one approach.
You can choose a number of ways to establish a structured giving plan including through a public or private ancillary fund (PAF), a private testamentary charitable trust or giving circles.
Whichever way you choose, there are attractive tax incentives to encourage the practice.
The type of vehicle will depend on:
- the timeframe of your giving
- the level of engagement you want
- whether you want to raise donations from the public
- whether you want to give in your lifetime or as a bequest
- whether you want to involve your family to create a family legacy.
Private ancillary fund
A private ancillary fund is a standalone charitable trust for business, families and individuals. It requires a corporate trustee and a specific investment strategy. Once you have donated, contributions are irrevocable and cannot be returned. To be tax deductible, the cause you are supporting must be a body identified as a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Tax Office.
The benefits of a PAF are that contributions are fully deductible, and the deductions can be spread over five years. The assets of the fund are exempt from income tax.
The minimum initial contribution to a PAF is at least $20,000. The costs of setting up a PAF are minimal and ongoing costs are usually about 1-2 per cent of the value of the fund.
Each year you must distribute 5 per cent of the net value of the fund to the designated charity.v
Testamentary charitable trust
An alternative to a PAF is a testamentary charitable trust, which usually comes into being after the death of the founder. The governing document is either a trust deed or the Will.
With a testamentary charitable trust, trustees control all the governance, compliance, investment and giving strategies of the trust. The assets of the trust are income tax exempt. The minimum initial contribution for such a fund is usually $500,000 to $2 million.vi
Philanthropy through structured giving still has a long way to go in Australia. The latest figures for total giving in Australia is $13.1 billion, of which $2.4 billion is structured giving. Currently the number of structured giving entities stands at just over 5400.vii
As the baby boomers pass on their wealth to their families, there is a wide opening for some of this money to find their way into charities and causes through structured giving.
If you want to know more about structured giving and what is the right vehicle for you to help the Australian community at large, then give us a call to discuss.
i, iii https://www.philanthropy.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/7480-PHA-Giving-Trends-and-Opportunities-2023-1.2.pdf
v, vi https://www.philanthropy.org.au/guidance-and-tools/ways-to-give/choosing-the-right-philanthropic-structure/
vii A Blueprint to Grow Structured Giving 2021 – Philanthropy Australia