2017 Australian Communities Forum Recap

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Last Friday, McCrindle and AlphaSys were proud to present the Australian Communities Forum (ACF) at Customs House in Sydney. The ACF featured 14 brilliant speakers and 4 jam-packed sessions. We began the day with tea and coffee on arrival before kicking off our first session, which focused on the research results from the Australian Communities Trends Report into Australia's not-for-profit sector. Before we launched into the findings we received a warm welcome from Councillor Jess Miller on behalf of our event sponsor, the City of Sydney.


Eliane Miles opened Session 1 with a snapshot of the key factors influencing Australian communities and some surprising findings from the just-completed Australian Communities Report. Eliane provided an overview of giving in Australia, indicating that 4 in 5 Australians give financially to charities / not-for-profits, the top 8 causes Australians are supporting and the 5 charity essentials.

Mark McCrindle continued the theme of presenting results by exploring some of the key insights from the 2016 Census results. Australia’s population is growing, ageing and changing. Mark also explored how not-for-profit organisations can respond to our changing nation.

Each of our delegates also received a copy of The Australian Communities Trends Infographic which contains the top line findings from the national study into Australian giving and how charities can engage.


After a networking break over morning tea Lalita Stables, head of strategic business at Google shared an engaging keynote presentation on strategy essentials that can be applied in local communities. Lalita spoke to leadership in an organisation, how Google have both a culture of innovation and information, and encouraged organisations to have a mission, transparency and a voice.

Our next keynote, Justin Yoon – founder and director at AlphaSys who was our event partner this year, delivered an engaging keynote address on how when building authentic communities, technology isn’t always the answer. Justin encouraged us to get ‘SLOSH-ed’ – or in other words, to ensure organisations Strategise, Listen, Orchestrate, Start simple and value Human experience.

Our final keynote was delivered by Jonnie Farrell, founder of start-up Adventure Squad and previously a product designer at Airtasker. Jonnie inspired and challenged us to think like a start-up and to trust our instincts, work hard and have a pure intent. From his experience in start-ups and entrepreneurism, Jonnie encouraged delegates to build, measure and learn.



In this stream, Richenda Vermeulen, CEO at ntegirty, began the session by challenging our audience with research-based insights on the four keys to achieving digital success. Ben Littlejohn from Act for Peace then spoke about promoting a start-up campaign using social and mainstream media, from Act for Peace’s Ration Challenge. Our final speaker for tis stream, Andrew Hill who is the community and fundraising director at The Salvation Army, shared how The Red Shield Appeal recently incorporated electronic giving into its appeal.


Graham Catt, CEO of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) began our second stream on community trends by sharing how the AVA uses environmental scanning to identify the trends taking place in the external environment and how to respond to them. Tony Holland, the CEO of OzHelp, then shared the inspiring story of how OzHelp’s tune-up program is reaching people where they live and work. Josh Crowther then concluded our second stream by sharing valuable insights from research conducted by Dunham+Company into donor trends and Australians giving behaviours.


Following afternoon tea and some great networking, we gathered back together to hear from our last two speakers, Andy Meier from Strategic Minds Communication and Sam RefShauge from batyr.

Andy Meier, director of Strategic Minds Communications kicked off our afternoon session by giving us some key insights into the power of video storytelling. Andy shared how a good story has a narrative, and that stories inspire us towards action.

Our last speaker of the day was Sam Refshauge, the CEO and executive director at batyr. Sam shared the inspiring story of how batyr came to be, and how to engage and communicate with Generation Z, we need to be innovative, create communities, encourage and empower, and utulise peer-to-peer interaction for this emerging generation.


We would like to thank all of our speakers and delegates for making the 2017 Australian Communities Forum a fantastic event. A big thank you to our primary sponsors Database Consultants Australia and the City of Sydney for your support in making this happen.

The Australian Community Trends Report

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

There is no more important industry in Australia than the not-for profit sector. The charities, social enterprises and community organisations across this nation provide much of the social infrastructure that builds the capacity and function of communities Australia wide.

The importance of the sector is recognised by Australians and practically lived out by the 4 in 5 adults who give financially to such organisations and the 1 in 4 who give at least once a month. However, this data shows the long-term engagement challenge with Australians twice as likely to make a one off donation than a regular one, and to volunteer at a stand-alone event compared to an ongoing contribution. 

Amidst the message saturation, digital disruption, generational change and increasingly complex lives, communicating and connecting with donors will no doubt require a more sophisticated strategy than what worked in the past.

Along with the global trends, demographic shifts and technological transformation, leaders may face change fatigue and resilience fatigue. However, the future is best influenced by focussed commitment to a clear vision, while responding with relevance to the external environment and the emerging trends. 

Mother Teresa’s quote from half a century ago offers relevant encouragement today:

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”.

It is our hope that the 2016 Australian Communities Report builds on the results from the 2015 study and offers insights to help Australia’s not-for-profit leaders continue to create ripples of change that over time change local, national and indeed global communities.

Millennials are Generation Generous

While Australia’s 18 to 29 year old's are often derided as screen-obsessed and self-focused, the latest data on giving and volunteering shows the reverse is true. 

Although the net wealth of the average Generation Y household is just one fifth that of the average Baby Boomer household, members of the younger generation are more likely to give regularly to charities (35% of them give at least monthly compared to 29% of the Over 30’s). Almost half of the 18 to 29’s have volunteered in the last year (46%) compared to less than 1 in 3 of those aged over 30 (31%).

Generation Y are more likely to prefer charities that raise awareness (46%) to those that take direct action (23%) while for the older generations, the reverse is the case (34% prefer charities that take direct action over awareness raising, 29%).

The Report

For more insights and to download your free copy of the 88-page 2016 Australian Communities Trends Report, please visit australiancommunities.com.au

These insights alongside fresh 2017 research will be presented at The Australian Communities Forum in September 2017. Tickets are available here

A shift to volunteering in the NFP sector

Friday, August 18, 2017

Australia is a nation of volunteers. According to the latest Census results, almost one in five (19%) Australians volunteer through an organisation or group, which equates to 3.6 million Australians and is an increase of 2% since the 2011 Census. Our Australian Community Trends Report showed that this increases to 1 in 3 (34%) among Australians who give financially to charitable organisations.

There is an increasing desire of Australians to be involved in charitable organisations in an experiential way. This is particularly true among young people, who desire to go on a journey, have a tangible experience and develop a partnership, not just a transactional relationship of donating money and the charity does the work. The ability of an organisation to engage a donor on multiple levels and take them on a journey can increase loyalty and generosity towards the organisation. When Australians give of their time not just their money, there is an increasing sense of partnership and advocacy with the organisation they are engaging with.

Key motivators for volunteering

When it comes to volunteering, responsibility and satisfaction are the key motivators for volunteers with more than half (51%) indicating that they do so because of the feeling they get when they volunteer, or because they feel it is their responsibility to give back to the community (51%). Almost half (49%) are also motivated by their desire to make the world a better place.

Regular Vs. one-off

Australian charitable givers are volunteering more regularely than just a one-off. 61% of respondents indicated that they regularly give of their time, helping out once a month (24%) or at least a few times a year (37%). Two in five (39%) volunteer on a more sporadic basis with one-off activities such as Clean up Australia Day.

Time-poor students and young workers are more commonly participating in once-off activities while the older generations in retirement are more likely to volunteer very regularly for one or more charities. 35% of the Baby Boomers and 40% of Australians from the Builder generation who are charitable givers volunteer regularly for one or more charities. This compares to just 13% of Gen Y and 21% of Gen X. These young generations are more likely to participate in on-off activities instead of regularly volunteering (47% Gen Y and 41% Gen X).

How charities can engage consistent volunteers

The below mind-map shows some of the key strategies not-for-profits can use to engage consistent volunteers.


The challenge recognised by charitable organisations is the time and administration costs incurred with the management of volunteers. Some charities find it challenging to accommodate volunteers within their operations while others rely heavily on volunteers for the execution of their services or programs. Overall, the sector recognises that if it can navigate the challenges, there the countless opportunities for everyday Australians to both give back and have their own lives enriched through voluntary engagement with the not-for-profit sector.


Results are from a nationally representative survey of 1,510 Australians who give financially to charitable organisations at least once per year (80% of the total Australian population), as well as six focus groups and 14 expert interviews. Research conducted in September 2016.

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