Published on December 10, 2014
A non-profit organization is commonly defined as an organization that is not created and operated for the financial gain of its individual members. All the revenue generated from its activities goes back to support the operations instead of being distributed among its members or other external parties. In Australia, the non-profit sector is also referred to as the social sector or the third sector, which covers a great variety of services. For tax purposes, non-profit organizations are classified into two main categories: charities and other institutions. Notably, charities also cover public benevolent institutions (PBIs) and health promotion charities (HPCs). Based on this system, religious groups, medical research centers, shelters, animal welfare societies, artistic groups, schools and colleges fall under this category, while sports clubs and recreational centers belong to other non-profit organizations. The sector’s economic significance is comparable to that of other national industry sectors, such as wholesale trade sector, transport and storage and government administration and defense.
Besides making a positive social impact, non-profit organizations are also important drivers of Australia’s economy and major employers in the region. According to the most recent media release by Australian Bureau of Statistics, non-profit institutions have contributed almost $55 billion to the economy between 2012 and 2013, estimated as gross value added. Further breakdowns show the following types of non-profit organizations benefiting the economy the most: education and research (30.9 per cent), social services (19.5 per cent), health and hospitals (18.1 per cent) and culture and recreation (13.2 per cent). These organizations create numerous jobs for the country - they employed 1,081,900 Australians during that period of time. The reason why the social sector has been able to maintain its strength for so long is the amount of support continuously provided by citizens in the form of financial donations and volunteer work.
Non-governmental organizations (also known as NGO or “civil society organization”) are a subgroup of non-profit organizations. The term “NGO” was coined back in 1945 - the year when the United Nations was founded. According to the UN, NGO is a “not-for-profit group, principally independent from government, which is organized on a local, national or international level to address issues in support of the public good”. NGOs are outlets for ordinary citizens with common interests to run activities and encourage other civil stakeholders to join. Most activities are highly community-oriented, they often perform humanitarian functions and raise important issues, such as social, environmental, religious and those related to the human rights. Most of Australia’s NGOs are funded and accredited by the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) which ensures the operations of well-maintained and impactful organizations. The ANCP report for 2014-2015 has demonstrated impressive outcomes of the NGOs activities: 70,000 women advanced to leadership roles at local, national and regional levels; 966,000 people gained access to financial services and 70,500 children gained access to school education.There are currently 45 accredited NGOs which operate in different sectors, with particular strength in international aid, economic development and poverty reduction. The Fred Hollows Foundation is an example of one of Australia’s most successful NGOs - it has been ranked in the top 1000 NGOs in 2013 in the world thanks to its significant global impact. The Fred Hollows Foundation is a Sydney-based non-governmental institution which specializes in preventing and treating vision problems and blindness in the communities of Australia, The Pacific, South Asia, South East Asia, and Africa.
Melbourne is one of the major centers of NGOs in Australia: there are more than 70 development organizations located there. Namely, large international NGOs such as World Vision, Save the Children, Oxfam, Australian Red Cross and Plan International, chose to establish their offices in this city. In terms of revenue, these top organizations have achieved 40% in total revenue among the members of the Australian Council for International Development - totalling $564 million between 2011-2012. Besides being home to large NGOs, Melbourne is also a great provider of the human resources for them. All eight universities offer programs for anyone interested in pursuing development studies; many of them collaborate with leading NGOs to support their students with research grants, scholarships and placements in projects. Recently, Melbourne has been experiencing steady growth in the number of aid programs thanks to public and private donations, making it a great place for both the NGOs to recruit committed and educated workforce and for the individuals to meet opportunities to make an impact in a favorable environment.
Apply now to demonstrate your commitment to a worthy cause and for the chance to intern with a top NGO in Australia!
Photo 2. based on Australian volunteer Tamara Baillie worked as a business development officer with the Thanh Xuan Organic project in Vietnam, 2010. Photo: Tamara Baillie / AusAID, by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, CC-by-2.0