Good afternoon everybody and everyone online.
Welcome to the Productivity Commission's webinar on our philanthropy inquiry.
We think we've got over 300 people registered and 200 people or so online so far. Can you hear me team? Just give me a thumbs up before we get started. Yep. Good.
My name's Alex Robson, I'm the deputy chair of the Productivity Commission and the presiding Commissioner for the philanthropy inquiry.
I'm joined by Julie Abramson, who's a fellow Commissioner, and Krystian Seibert, who's the Associate Commissioner.
Today, we're just going to go through briefly what the inquiry is all about and answer some questions towards the end.
I'll just begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the lands on which we're meeting today. I'd also like to pay my respects to Elders past and present.
Before we get into the philanthropy inquiry itself, I'll just give a brief overview of what the Commission is all about. We’re the Australian Government's independent research and advisory body on economic, social and environmental issues.
We undertake an analysis based on evidence we're all about coming up with new ideas and actual outcomes, and part of our role also is to inform and educate, and the long run goal of our of the Commission - including on this inquiry - is to develop better policies in the long-term interests of the Australian community.
Part of what we do and important very important part is the way we operate. As I said before, we're independent. We're open and transparent, so everything we do in terms of inquiries, you know, we like to keep transparent. Part of that is undertaking public consultations, which is part of what we're doing today.
Our role as, as I said before, to educate and inform about the impacts of different policy choices, testing different policy ideas, all from a base of strong evidence and importantly, all of that is done from an economy and community wide perspective. That’s a bit of background on the way that this inquiry will be conducted in the in the broad sense of what the Commission does.
What I'm going to cover today, I'll talk about the scope of this inquiry and what we've been asked to do by the government. I'll talk a bit about the process and how that will evolve over the coming months.
I'll explain the ways in which people on the call and others can contribute to the inquiry and towards the end we will respond to questions and answers. If you do have a question, I think the way we will do it is that if you could put it in the chat to this team's meeting and Krystian, my fellow Commissioner on this inquiry, will collate those and we'll get to those as we get towards the end of the presentation.
The presentation is being recorded without the Q&A and will be placed on the Commission's website.
The terms of reference for the inquiry, what have we been asked to do?
Broadly we've been asked to look at trends and motivations for giving in Australia. The second big thing we're looking at is to identify opportunities for and obstacles to increasing philanthropic giving in Australia in the context of the government's stated policy objective of doubling giving by 2030. The third big area in the terms of reference is to recommend ways to respond to these opportunities and barriers.
Our inquiry will be guided by firstly, the terms of reference, past reviews that the Commission has done in this area, participant feedback and input obviously is a big part of the Commission's work on this and all inquiries.
In terms of the first big ticket items that we're looking at and that we've been asked to look at, trends and motivations for giving. The things that we're interested is why people give, there's a little diagram over there about motivations for giving.
We're interested in all of these motives and importantly, given patterns of giving in Australia, the reasons why some people may not give. We're interested in who gives in terms of different demographics, age, gender, income, all of those sorts of variables so it can better understand the trends in giving and the kinds of policies that may or may not work.
We’re interested in the advantages and disadvantages of philanthropy as a source of revenue as opposed to other sources of revenue for not for profits, so government grants those sorts of things. What is it about philanthropic donations that are good and what are some of the things that are not so good?
Any data, insights and case studies about philanthropy in Australia, including in particular those that are not publicly available. Alternative giving vehicles that are currently in Australia available as well as those that may not be available. That's a broad overview of the topics that we're interested in terms of trends and motivations for giving.
The second big category of things that we’ll cover in this inquiry are the opportunities and obstacles for giving. These can cover a range of topics.
We're interested in regulatory issues, whether it's regulatory and compliance burdens, any gaps in regulations that we may see out there, any overlap between states, inconsistencies between states and Federal government regulations, all of those sorts of things.
The way that regulation works in practise or doesn't work in practise and the roles and responsibilities of different regulators, whether it's the ACNC (Australian Charitites and Not-for-Profit Commission) or Fair Trading bodies within the states or the Australian Taxation Office - all of those entities are within scope in terms of regulatory entities.
We're interested very much in the DGR, the deductible gift recipient framework in Australia and how that's working or not working, whether it's complex, too complex, how it could be improved, what are the issues and opportunities there for reforming the DGR framework?
We’re very much interested in tax concessions available to charities, how those are working, whether they incentivise giving or not, ways in which potentially they might be able to be reformed to reduce barriers, are they effective?
And not only tax concessions for giving, but also the other tax arrangements that are available for not for profits, things like fringe benefits tax and other concessions that are available.
We're interested in, and it's in our terms of reference, the ability of donors to assess the effectiveness and impact of charities. So what is the right approach there?
You know, do donors from a sort of consumer welfare point of view have the ability to compare different charities and the way that they're operating and whether that can be improved in terms of regulation or left alone, and any other regulatory issues or obstacles and opportunities that people may be able to identify.
We're interested in hearing about all of those things from people in the sector and outside of the sector as well, both from a donor perspective and also from a charity perspective and from a recipient perspective, all of those things are important.
And finally, given all of that, what are the reform opportunities in this space in Australia?
We have heard from a number of participants, we've already held 50 or more than 50 discussions with various entities around the place.
We have heard about data gaps, information gaps, regarding philanthropy. Are there reform opportunities in that space?
What can be done in terms of public strategies to increase the status of giving? We know that norms for giving and culture is a very important part of, you know, the incentive for giving and creating that right environment.
We've learned that internationally from looking at places like the United States and elsewhere, are there things that can be done in Australia in that space?
We're interested in the evidence on the impacts and costs and benefits of reform opportunities, whether it's in DGR or tax or effectiveness, or any of those things I mentioned previously. What would the impacts of different reform options be?
What are some of the advantages, what are the disadvantages and how those reforms could be undertaken if the government decided to do it? And any other measures to support philanthropy in Australia we’d be interested in hearing about.
I just should mention that we're not only interested in financial support, we're interested in in-kind support and different kinds of philanthropy. You know, coming from either individuals or corporates, foundations, volunteering is a big part of what we're looking at, everyday donors ancillary funds and community foundations as well.
We're interested in different perspectives from different parts of the community in particular, disadvantaged communities, First Nations, and in particular, from a recipient point of view, what works and what doesn't in the space of philanthropy in Australia.
In terms of process, we've put out a call for submissions paper a few weeks ago. Submissions are due on the 5th of May (2023).
We're going to be holding roundtables over June and July this year (2023).
We'll have a draft report that's due in November.
Public hearings in February next year (2024) and then a final report to government by the 11th of May next year.
So how you can contribute?
One of the main ways, obviously, with the deadline coming up is that you can make a submission either that could be individual or through an organisation. It can be any length, it can be written or by video, it can cover just one issue, it can cover many issues.
Our general rule, given our commitment to transparency is that submissions are made public. We do make allowances for confidential submissions under some circumstances, but the general approach is that submissions are made public.
If you don't want to make a submission, you can always just leave a comment on the website and that will be taken into account in the inquiry.
You can contribute in other ways just by seeing what we're up to, register your interest to receive updates on our website, more direct way is to speak with us at a round table - or those public hearings that will be coming up - or you can call or meet with us.
There's many different ways that people can contribute to this inquiry and we're very keen to hear from as many people as we can about philanthropy in Australia.