The ACNC has released its fifth annual report, which provides invaluable insight into Australia's charity sector.

There are now more than 57,500 charities registered with the ACNC. The Australian Charities Report 2017 analyses annual information statements from about 47,000 charities - those that were submitted by 13 February this year.

Key findings include:

  • Total revenue of $146.1 billion
  • Government grants as a revenue source increased by $7 billion
  • Donations and bequests as a revenue source totalled $9.9 billion
  • There were 3.3 million volunteers across Australia's charities
  • Most registered charities (36 per cent) are 'extra small', a subset of 'small'
  • 30 per cent of charities reported that their main activities were religion-related, and
  • 4567 charities operated overseas, mostly in India, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and New Zealand.

The report corroborated many findings from previous years:

  • Most charities are small - with annual revenue of less than $250,000 (65 per cent)
  • The most common activity is religion (30 per cent)
  • The geographic distribution of charities aligns with Australia's population, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, in that order, being home to most, and
  • Just under half of all charities (49 per cent) were run solely by volunteers.

The commission noted some significant changes, for example:

  • Donations and bequests made to registered charities were $9.9 billion, a decrease of $600 million
  • Total combined revenue increased from $143 billion in 2016 to $146 billion
  • Government funds to charities increased by $7 billion
  • Total combined employee expenses decreased to $74.8 billion, down from $75.4 billion in 2016, and
  • 400,000 more people volunteered for a registered charity.

The full report can be downloaded at