Chair Report

I last presented a CCA Chair’s report as we entered the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia.  Little did we know how 2020 would play out for so many people and organisations – including CCA.  I must say now, on reflection, that I am proud of the way CCA has responded and how the charities sector has pulled together to help us all cope with the challenges of this pandemic.

If I had to list one critical decision that informed our capacity to respond in 2020, it would be the establishment of the Charities Crisis Cabinet. 

My co-chair of the Charities Crisis Cabinet, Susan Pascoe, had agreed to work with me and CCA throughout 2020 as we advanced the development of a charities blueprint, a long overdue industry plan for the charities sector.  When faced with COVID-19, we chose to put aside the blueprint work, and bring together a cross section of charities sector leaders in what we called the Charities Crisis Cabinet.  We felt we needed a group of sector leaders working together so we could respond more immediately to the emerging issues of a global pandemic.

With David Crosbie as the Charities Crisis Cabinet Secretary, Deborah Smith doing so much of the work behind the scenes, and a diverse group of outstanding sector leaders, we were able to advance the need for charities to be factored into a broad range of COVID-19 policy responses.  

We were initially quite effective at getting our issues on the national agenda.  Perhaps our most important achievement was obtaining concessional access to the national JobKeeper program enabling over 50% of charities that employ staff to gain government support in keeping their staff on the payroll.  Other significant gains included supporting concessional taxation arrangements encouraging charitable foundations to give above their required disbursements during the pandemic. 

It is sobering to think about where charities might have been if we were not able to advocate so effectively over the last 12 months and were excluded from these critical support programs. 

While CCA and the Charities Crisis Cabinet played critical advocacy and catalysing roles, the response of the charities sector to the pandemic also provides testimony to the strength of leadership in many Australian charities.

The CCA annual report this year includes acknowledgement of all the people involved in the Charities Crisis Cabinet and the CCA Board.  I would like to emphasise the fundamental importance of the invaluable contributions made by these leaders during 2020. These are heavily committed people, often with huge responsibilities seeking to service communities in real need.  The pressures on every charity leader in 2020 increased significantly from the catastrophic bushfires to ever evolving pandemic risks.  Business as usual was not an option for most charities.  Every charity leader had to work longer, take bigger risks, bring more people with them as they tried to find a positive way through a myriad of new challenges.  This kind of work takes its toll.  And yet, almost every fortnight throughout most of 2020, most of the Charities Crisis Cabinet members would put aside their immediate organisational needs and come together to share information, develop strategies, actively advocate and work collaboratively to advance changes needed for the charities sector and the many communities they serve.  

If we see the best of some people when they are under pressure, I think we saw the best of our sector during 2020.  I believe the charities sector should be very proud of what was achieved through so many of us working with each other in 2020.

As chair of CCA and Co-Chair of the Charities Crisis Cabinet, I had the opportunity to work with many outstanding leaders all sharing a commitment beyond self-interest, seeking to enhance the work of charities so we could respond to bushfires and COVID-19, and help build flourishing communities.

I want to again acknowledge my fellow Board Directors all bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Board discussions at CCA.  I genuinely enjoy CCA Board meetings.  The discussions are interesting and informative, and although there are often a range of views expressed, the focus on collectively working towards a shared goal means we are able to relatively easily develop positive policies and ways forward.

I would like to especially acknowledge three CCA supporters and former Board Directors.  Stephen Judd stepped down as head of Hammond Care in 2020 after a remarkable career of achievement. Stephen was one of the founding Directors of CCA and a highly respected supporter.  

Lisa O’Brien and Rev Keith Garner were also foundation CCA Board Directors and both stepped down this year.  Their wealth of experience and knowledge has been invaluable to CCA over many years and we appreciate their long term contributions to CCA and the sector.

As I have said before, our staff are our primary resource and they are exceptional.  David Crosbie and Deborah Smith not only do outstanding work, but they are also clearly driven by the purpose of CCA and the goals we share.  For most of 2020 they were joined by Sarah Gavel who first worked at CCA ten years ago.  Sarah’s contribution in leveraging the donation dollar campaign and setting the groundwork for a new national campaign supporting charities has been invaluable for CCA.

We were also fortunate to again have some important supporters in 2020. Karen Mahlab and the Pro Bono Australia team continued to amplify our work, Cat Fay and the team at Perpetual provided critical funding support as did Claire Robbs and Life Without Barriers.  CCA would be greatly diminished without the generous support of these and other partners who helped us along the way.

At CCA we know our real strength is our members.  Without members and their financial contributions, we would not exist.  Without members, our policy and advocacy would be not much more than opinion.  On behalf of the staff and the Board, I want to thank every CCA member for helping us make a difference. 

We are now trying to build back better, and times will not get any easier for charities.  As we enter what could well be an election year, CCA will be again relying on your support throughout 2021.

Finally, I want to thank you all for your support of CCA during these trying times, and I look forward to working with you in 2021 as we strive to better serve our communities and build back the kind of Australia we want to live in.


Rev Tim Costello AO
Chair, Community Council for Australia

CEO Report

2020 was in many ways a defining year for peak bodies, including those of us in the charities sector.  CCA was needed, our role became critical to many charities, and I am pleased to say that generally we were able to step up to the challenges and ensure the charities sector was able to survive as well as it could given all the difficulties of a global pandemic.

In 2020, CCA membership increased, despite the income levels of many charities either decreasing or not increasing in the way most had anticipated.

The level of engagement with government and key Departments like the Treasury and the ATO increased significantly as we battled to lock in support packages for the sector including the charities JobKeeper packages.

Engagement with philanthropy and broader cross sector collaborations increased.

CCA was busier than ever before, often required to not only pursue our policy reform agenda but also follow up from the latest Charities Crisis Cabinet meeting, preparing letters to Ministers, Prime Ministers, National Cabinet, and others.

The take up and readership of information services like our Daily Diary increased, as did our reach on social media, and the number of different articles and stories CCA was involved in.

What made all this additional work doable was not an increase in resources, although CCA finances improved in 2020 with a stronger membership base and new support from Perpetual, but the energy and support of so many of CCA’s members and key leaders from the charities sector.

I spent more time than ever before talking to sector leaders and supporters in 2020 learning about what was needed and how it might be achieved.  

The charities sector is incredibly diverse.  Sometimes this diversity is presented as a barrier to collective action, but the work of CCA and the Charities Crisis Cabinet in 2020 showed that diversity can be strength when we collectively and collaboratively work towards shared goals.

We did not get everything we hoped to achieve in 2020, but by most international comparisons, the charities sector in Australia was better supported by governments and philanthropy than most other charities sector around the world.  

We still have a lot more work to do.

The many issues of dealing with a global pandemic will be with us for some time.

The impact of high levels of government debt will eventually wash over charities.

While many in the charities sector have been through difficult times recently, there are still many major issues we will need to work together on.  We will need your support if CCA is to remain an effective advocate for our sector.

I feel privileged to work at CCA.  I am surrounded by amazing leaders: Tim Costello seems to be even more energetic in his advocacy as he gets older, Susan Pascoe continues to offer great insight and leadership, the CCA Board represents some of the best strategic thinkers in our sector and the regular meetings of the Charities Crisis Cabinet were both productive and enjoyable with a real sense of colleagues sharing challenges and working together to achieve what we could in difficult circumstances. 

I am also very fortunate to have the wonderful Deborah Smith running CCA behind the scenes and this year we were able to draw on the experience of Sarah Gavel who first worked at CCA ten years ago.  2020 has been a remarkable year.  2021 is also going to be very interesting. 

I want to conclude by thanking some the remarkable people who make CCA possible, the CCA members and supporters.  Thank you all for standing strong with us in 2020.  

I look forward to again standing along side you all as we seek to make Australia a better place in 2021 and beyond.


David Crosbie
CEO, Community Council for Australia

Policy and Advocacy

CCA was founded by leaders in our sector to build flourishing communities by enhancing the extraordinary work of Australia’s charities and not for profit sector.  Together, we seek a policy and regulatory environment that works for community organisations – not against them.

Thank you to our members and our partners for your involvement, contributions and support throughout 2020 – and in the decade since CCA’s foundation.  The support charities secured in the last year would not have happened without you.

Out of the fires

The cheapest form of charity is just handing the money out, and that’s how the quick and greedy get more than the needy. The idea is to use the charity money carefully, mindful of the long-term impact.  Governments turn to charities in these crises because they know they haven’t got the systems in place themselves to do what the charities know how to do.
CEO David Crosbie, 7 News

Charities stepped up to support communities through the Black Summer bushfires. We saw an outpouring of Australian generosity – and some ill-informed and at times opportunistic criticism levelled at charities. CCA responded to direct attacks on charities that threatened public trust in the sector, highlighting the complexity of recovery efforts and the contribution of charities.

We engaged with Government, parliamentarians, the public, the National Bushfire Recovery Agency and the Royal Commission into National Disaster Arrangements on the role and critical value of charities in crisis, recovery and in building resilience. The importance of social connection – the social infrastructure that is at the heart of our communities and the work of our charities – was acknowledged by leadership within the NBRA and by the Royal Commission.

Charities must be central to Australia’s resilience building and disaster preparedness, response and recovery agenda. CCA continues this advocacy.

CCA submission responding to Draft Propositions, Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements

Beyond the Money – the real value of charities in a crisis, 13 November, The Advocate. (Cover story) For anyone concerned about preparedness, about resilience, about communities and crisis, one of the best things we can all do is in some way connect with others.  

Into pandemic

Our work together over the past decade has built credibility and capacity, both of which have proved crucial over the past months.’  

One of CCA’s first responses as charities faced the unfolding Covid-19 crisis was to form and support the work of the Charities Crisis Cabinet.  We brought together leadership, experience and knowledge from across the diversity of the charities sector to highlight issues and consider responses to support as many charities as possible to survive the crisis and be there to support their communities into recovery.  

CCA also continued to engage directly with government, our political leaders and the media. We collaborated with partners across our sector to highlight issues and contributed to the collective leadership that was critical in securing the support the sector needed. Together, we took charities from being omitted from government pandemic programs to sustain business during the crisis, to securing key concessions that ensured many charities could not only participate in government support programs but gain significant concessions tailored to better meet their needs. 

As Tim noted when speaking with CCA members in June, there is little doubt that our achievements in 2020 would not have been possible without the credibility and capacity built by the foresight and investment of our members in forming CCA over ten years ago.

A policy agenda to support the sector – and our communities - through crisis and into recovery

CCA was one voice within a choir of sector voices, collaboration and leadership from across our sector.  As the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, CCA outlined seven ways governments can work more effectively with charities in an Open Letter to Australian Governments.

The positions CCA advocated and supported throughout 2020 included:

  • A wage subsidy to support charities and the 1.3 million people they employ to support our communities.  The result was access to JobKeeper, with significant concessions to recognise the needs of charities.
  • Access to cashflow for business measures, delivering between $20,000 and $100,000 to charities employing staff.
  • Access to Coronavirus Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Guarantee Scheme.  We also worked for more tailored initiatives to unlock new sources of capital for charities, proposing the underwriting of medium-term loans schemes and impact investment options that would enable charities to smooth out inconsistent income streams and invest in their future. 
  • Increased tax deductibility for donations to charities to encourage more giving. 
  • Removal of dysfunctional red tape fundraising regulations and creation of a national registration process through existing regulators the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). 
  • Greater certainty in government contracts. 
  • Greater flexibility in government funding to allow charities and not-for-profits to respond to the emerging needs in their communities. 
  • A one stop shop registration process to enable volunteers to be registered and insured more quickly without the red tape of multi-jurisdictional compliance. 
  • Transformational funding to support charities in critical areas such as information technology, energy efficiency, collaboration, measurement of impact, research, staff development and other productivity focused areas. 
  • Enabling employers to establish more effective ‘opt out’ systems of workplace giving to increase philanthropy. 

Charities employ more than 1.3 million people, draw on the contributions of over 3.5 million volunteers, and contribute over 8% of Australia’s GDP. These economic indicators are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the charitable contribution to our communities. Unlike for-profit business, the work of charities is all about public benefit. Charities keep our communities strong in good times and bad. Charities will be critical in the way we respond to the tasks set us all by Covid-19.

Here are seven suggestions as to how government can work more effectively with charities:

  1. Engage with us..

  2. Treat charity workers as part of the economy too.

  3. Offer more security to maintain programs and employment.

  4. Provide additional funding to meet additional demand.

  1. Enable flexibility for charities to respond.

  2. Maintain support for the other work of charities including bushfire recovery.

  3. Help us build trust.

Open Letter to Australian Governments, March 2020

Government and parliamentarians from all sides engaged with charities positively and constructively to support our communities through crisis. Together we showed what becomes possible when charities are part of the policy agenda.

Our thanks to the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, Treasurer, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP and Assistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters, the Hon Senator Zed Seselja and senior bureaucrats that worked all hours to respond to our issues.  Special mention to ATO Assistant Commissioner, Jennifer Moltisanti and her Not-for-profit team and Jacky Rowbotham, Principal Adviser within Treasury and her team. We have more work to do.

Open Letters, submissions and media commentary:

Charities can reap the benefits of JobMaker, Pro Bono News, 8 October.  CCA says JobMaker is a good initiative that charities can access but the Budget more broadly is an opportunity missed. Recovery should seek better than a return to a fraying economy, increasing inequality and continuing environmental degradation.

What the social sector will be looking for on budget night, Pro Bono News, 6 October.  To build back better we need to invest in strengthening our social infrastructure to ensure all Australians have the opportunity to realise their potential and drive increased productivity. 

CCA Pre-Budget Submission, outlines nine measures to significantly strengthen Australia’s not-for-profit (NFP) sector and drive real economic savings for government over the coming financial year and beyond. 

Australian charities are struggling with demand: the Coalition will rue turning its back on them, 22 August, Michael West Media picks up earlier coverage of CCA comments provided to the Saturday Paper on the likely emergence of “zombie charities”: I think we’re going to have thousands of zombie charities that have cut their programs, cut their staff, cut their services, cut their infrastructure, [that are] just trying to hang on until they can rebuild.

Charities at risk if not supported after the pandemic: Research, The Wire, 5 June, David talks to the findings of SVA and CSI research that suggests up to 200,000 charity jobs are at risk.

200K charity jobs at risk, The Australian, and ‘Charities don’t want to be casualties of the COVID crisis’, Pro Bono News, 3 June.  CCA Chair Tim Costello says, ‘The charities sector is essential to create stronger communities.  If the role of charities is diminished, it will heavily impact our communities.’

‘Significant threat’: Charities lose millions as virus forces cancellation of fundraisers, SMH, 31 May, Tim takes on the role of Giving Tuesday Now Ambassador, commenting on the results of the Our Community pulse survey that shows many charities fear for their viability. ‘Some will close, others will shrink, some will linger for a while then quietly disappear.’

Charity sector depleted by Covid-19 pandemic, SBS Radio, 24 May, David talks with SBS Radio on the impact of Covid-19 on the charities sector, and the positives in the re-discovery of the importance of community connection.

The Covid-19 pandemic is seismic’:  Community groups fear for survival, Pro Bono News, 15 May, Tim in his Giving Tuesday Now Ambassador role says, ‘There’s no way to sugar coat this – the COVID-19 pandemic is seismic. Community groups are the social infrastructure of our economy – they need fast-tracked investment from government, philanthropy and individuals before it’s too late. JobKeeper is a great start but we need to go further.’ 

Tim talks with Channel 7, 23 April, on the challenges facing charities, their role, and the need for fundraising reform as outlined by the Charities Crisis Cabinet in an Open Letter to Governments.

‘We don’t run like normal businesses’: Charities still locked out of JobKeeper payments, Pro Bono News, 6 April, CCA welcomed the concessional treatment for charities in changes to JobKeeper. ‘With the downturn in fundraising, closure of events and meetings, closure of volunteer run shops and other services, loss of fees from training, education and other programs, many charities are struggling to stay open. Being able to access the JobKeeper payment after demonstrating a 15 per cent loss of turnover will be the difference for thousands of charities and their staff.’

Australian charity heads call for coronavirus volunteers as numbers slump, The Guardian, 1 April, David provides commentary on volunteering and government stimulus response, welcoming JobKeeper but saying the turnover based rules would need to be clarified for charities whose revenue was often ‘lumpy’. He also called for existing government funding to the sector to be guaranteed. ‘If we had to ask for one thing, it would be that the government assure us the existing funding will not be cut before next year.’

Can there be charity without charities? Tim talks with Australia at Home, 30 March.

Charity sector struggling to meet demand, The Wire. The charity and not-for-profit sector has been hit hard by COVID-19 with declining donations and cancelled fundraisers causing job losses while more of the public are calling on their support.  CCA says the Government’s stimulus package is not enough to help them meet demand.

Government unveils stimulus support for charities, Pro Bono News, 23 March, CCA welcomes charities inclusion in stimulus response (after initially being excluded), but says charities were still in the fight of their lives to stay afloat.

Charities can be part of the solution, Pro Bono News, 19 March, carries CCA’s Open Letter to Australian Governments.

Government announces $17B to support welfare recipients and business, Pro Bono News, 12 March, Tim and David call for charities to be included in stimulus response. ‘Stimulus should not just be about small business and tax incentives. CCA believes governments could provide more stimulus to the economy, increase employment and strengthen communities by investing more in the capacity of charities to better serve their communities.’

Our thanks to the Charities Crisis Cabinet

The Charities Crisis Cabinet (CCC) was an important collaborative effort contributing to collective sector advocacy as Australia responded to the economic and social shock of the pandemic and Black Summer bushfires. It proved an effective mechanism to engage Government and political leaders, and to bring the leadership of our sector to the crisis our charities were dealing with.  

CCA provided secretariat support for the CCC.  CCC Open Letters to the Prime Minister, Treasurer and National Cabinet are available here: Charities Crisis Cabinet 

Our thanks to co-Chairs Rev Tim Costello AO and Adjunct Prof Susan Pascoe AM and the members of the Charities Crisis Cabinet.  

These exceptional leaders found time to meet fortnightly as a Cabinet as well as contribute their leadership in many other forums with Government, the Covid commission and in sector supporting events – while navigating their own organisations through the challenges we all faced.

Co-Chair, Charities Crisis Cabinet
Chair, Community Directors Council
Co-Chair, Charities Crisis Cabinet
Chair CCA
Secretary, Charities Crisis Cabinet
CEO Community Council for Australia
CEO Save the Children
Community Radio
CEO, Community Broadcasting Association of Australia
Online and Digital Economy
Group CEO, Infoxchange and Connecting Up
Legal and Governance
Head, Not-for-profit Law, Justice Connec
Migrants and Refugees
CEO, Settlement Services International
Smaller Charities
Group Managing Director Our Community
Emergency Services
CEO OzHarvest
Media and Communication
Founder and CEO Pro Bono Australia
CEO WWF Australia
CEO, Volunteering Australia
International Development
CEO Australian Council for International Development
Deputy Chair CCA, CEO Life Without Barriers
The Arts
Executive Director, AMPAG (Resigned September 2020)
Social Services
CEO Catholic Social Services Australia
Research / Impact / Training
CEO, Centre for Social Impact
CEO Philanthropy Australia
Social Policy / Youth
Executive Director Brotherhood of St Laurence

Building back better

Charities adapted and innovated to achieve amazing things during 2020; leaders stepped up; collaboration flourished; philanthropy partnered; government engaged; individuals rediscovered the value of community.

A year of crisis also birthed some new optimism and momentum for change. In the many leadership forums CCA was involved in, there was a secondary theme to dealing with crisis: our charity leaders wanted to seize the opportunity to harness the learning, the innovation, the rediscovery of community connection and the opportunities inherent in disruption to build back better.

CCA has long advocated the need for a forward plan – a blueprint for our sector.  

Covid-19 disrupted our original plans to progress a 2030 Blueprint for Australia’s Charities, at the same time underlining its importance. (In fact our Co-chairs for this work, agreed to Co-chair the Charities Crisis Cabinet).  The issues, emergency responses and collaboration CCA engaged in during 2020 progressed our work in a different but very valuable way.  In many ways it tested and built upon much of what we already know from previous research and work such as the 2010 Productivity Commission’s Report into the Contribution of Australia’s Not-for-profit Sector.  

Australia’s $150bn charities sector, employs 1.3 million people, enables more than 3 million volunteers and sits at the heart of our communities, our wellbeing and our economy.

We need a plan for its future

2020 did a lot of the heavy lifting that will underpin the successful development of a forward plan for the sector.  It also began the essential foundation for its successful implementation:  shifting perceptions about the value and importance of charities to Australian communities, and the legitimacy of charities having input and engagement in major policy discourse and decision-making.

Our thanks to Perpetual Foundation and Life Without Barriers for seed funding to progress this work, and to Bain and Company and Saatchi & Saatchi for their pro bono involvement in strategic planning.

Regulation that works

CCA and the charities sector fought to establish, shape and retain the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, to build trust, cut red tape and support our communities with a resilient, responsive and well governed charities sector.

During 2020 CCA continued our advocacy to support the ACNC’s role and performance as an effective regulator.  We welcomed the long-awaited government response to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Legislation Review 2018, including its intention to widen use of the charities passport (to reduce duplication), lessen the compliance burden on smaller charities (less financial reporting obligations and higher reporting thresholds), and to allow greater public disclosures in relation to the investigations being carried out by the ACNC. It was disappointing that one of the biggest areas of pointless red tape – the dog’s breakfast of charitable fundraising regulations around Australia – was not streamlined as recommended.

The year ended with the Government flagging a crackdown on activism through intended changes to ACNC Governance standards. CCA will continue to engage with government and challenge the necessity for the proposed ‘unlawful activities’ amendments, which will have implications and new administrative burdens for all charities. Our laws already enable police to take action against individuals and organisations that break the law, and the ACNC can and does de-register charities who consistently break the law. 

Media commentary:

Government signals harsher penalties against charities supporting unlawful behaviour, 15 December, Pro Bono News. David said that charities acting in a way where illegal activity was part of their core activities was already prevented in the 2013 Charities Act. 

Charities welcome government response to ACNC review – but not all government members got the memo, Media Release, 6 March. CCA welcomed the government response to the review, but raised concerns that the recommendations of the independent review panel to reform fundraising were not accepted; and that there was inconsistency in the Government’s public statements relating to charities, undermining public trust.

#Fixfundraising - Please!

Australia’s disparate, dysfunctional and out of date system of fundraising regulation stymied and hindered charities at the time they most needed to be nimble and when they most needed support.  Crisis is not a time to work through seven different sets of rules and regulations in order to place a ‘donate here’ button on a website.

Fundraising reform was pursued by CCA, the Charities Crisis Cabinet, the #Fixfundraising coalition and the National Covid Commission (Charity, Philanthropy and Fundraising Advisory Group).

CCA welcomed the engagement of the Australian Treasurer, who elevated fundraising reform into discussions with state and territory colleagues.

We supported the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements and welcomed the recommendation to establish a single national regulatory scheme.  

These are positive steps. However most States and Territories are yet to embrace meaningful action on fundraising reform. Our advocacy continues.  

Our thanks to all involved – especially our #Fixfundraising champion, Sue Woodward at Justice Connect.

Submissions and media commentary:

Morrison government unveils ‘significant and far-reaching’ fundraising reforms, 16 December, Pro Bono News. David welcomed this breakthrough, and said action now needed to be taken urgently. “It is now clear that fixing the dog’s breakfast of fundraising regulations in Australia is a priority for the government. Now we just need to get it done and not continue to delay reform.”

Cutting through the red tape strangling our charities! Media Release, 15 December

Fundraising reform remains ‘just out of reach’, 12 November, Pro Bono News. David says ‘The obvious solutions to the fundraising regulations issues have clearly been within sight for many years, but somehow they always remain just out of reach’ as the Government tables its response to the Charity Fundraising in the 21st Century inquiry.

CCA Submission to the Charitable Fundraising National Working Group on Proposed cross-border recognition model for charitable fundraisers

Bushfire crisis highlights gaps in fundraising laws that Government refuses to fix. #Fixfundraising Media Release, 6 March.

Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, Recommendation 21.2 – Reform fundraising laws: Australian, state and territory governments should create a single national scheme for the regulation for charitable fundraising

‘The current fundraising regulations are a classic example of feral bureaucracy costing millions of dollars each year and thousands of hours of charitable staff time in wasted compliance activity. There is an easy fix if all governments agreed to work with the information already collected by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission rather than duplicating and collecting their own.’

CCA CEO, David Crosbie, 15 December

Give thanks, give time, give dollars

2020 brought us a rediscovery of the fundamental value of community, of connection and of giving. 

It was also a chance to engage our leaders, the public, business and our workforce with the value and importance of charities to Australian communities.

Special thanks to Our Community for all the work to bring not one, but two Giving Tuesdays to Australia in 2020… and to the Royal Australian Mint and Saatchi & Saatchi for a world-leading initiative to circulate a reminder and conversation starter on giving through our hands, and through our economy with the launch of Donation Dollar.

CCA welcomed and partnered with both initiatives. We want to see our sector take advantage and create more of these opportunities to talk to our impact, to celebrate and engage leaders, business and our communities with our work and our value.

CCA commentary:

A global giving campaign gains traction in Australia, Fundraising and Philanthropy Magazine, 26 October.  Tim encourages charities to get involved in the global day celebrating giving: Giving Tuesday, 1 December 

Open Letter to all Australian politicians, Giving Tuesday, 18 November

The world’s first coin with a call to action, Pro Bono News, 2 September.  Tim says the attitudinal and behavioural change that could result from the launch of Donation Dollar was very significant, with every coin offering a chance to spark new conversations about generosity. 

Hidden meaning in new $1 coin design, The Telegraph, 2 September.  Tim says, “For the first time, we have a coin that isn’t just triggering economic value but triggering compassion and generosity which prompts people to think of those in need.”

New dollar coin designed to be given away, The Standard, 2 September.  Tim says, “We are hoping people will ask questions like who are you giving your donation dollar to, which charities do you already support, is it time to give a little more?”

Giving Tuesday ramps up globally to tackle Covid-19, Pro Bono News, 15 April, David said he hoped charities across Australia would organise different kinds of public engagement, awareness raising, and opportunities for their communities to give and support their work.  ’

We can reduce the vulnerability of charities by increasing the value our communities place upon them. This is an important opportunity for all of us to highlight the value created by big and small charities across Australia, and to increase community engagement and support. David Crosbie on Giving Tuesday.

It might be a small coin, but it will circulate as a constant reminder to give, and that can make a big difference. No longer is money just a measurement of economic value, it is now a measure of what am I doing with my life. It is a unit of compassion and a sense of generosity. I think that is a powerful shift. Tim Costello on the launch of Donation Dollar.

Meetings and Presentations

Australia’s future is better served by a resilient, high performing charities and NFP sector. 
‘We almost have a license to rethink what we do and we don’t often get that license so we should use it.’  CCA CEO David Crosbie,
Centre for Social Impact 2020 webinar, Building Back Better. 

In a year where we lived much of our lives on zoom, Teams and Webex, CCA contributed to high level forums and meetings, including with parliamentarians, senior Government bureaucrats, members, sector colleagues, and corporate Australia.

2020 saw our charity leaders step up, to support their organisations, their communities, their workforce and volunteers, and each other.  CCA supported the Australia at Home initiative, took our CEO and CFO Forums online, and established a Senior Policy Managers’ Network.  These conversations were invaluable in informing and supporting our work and we know the peer support they facilitated was appreciated by many.  

A sampling of meetings, presentations and forums:

Charities Crisis Cabinet, weekly for much of the year

Valuing charities (post bushfires) Working Group

Australia at Home

National Covid Coordination Commission (Charity, Philanthropy and Fundraising Advisory Group)

Australian Taxation Office Not-for-profit Stewardship Group

Pro Bono News Editorial Advisory Board

#FixFundraising Reform Meetings 

Impact Investing Australia Board 

Australian Scholarships Fund Advisory Board

Centre for Social Impact Impact 2020 series:  Building Back Better

What can Australian charities learn from Canadian audits of charities involved in advocacy? Panel discussion, ACPNS-QUT webinar 

Our Community and Institute of Community Directors webinars supporting Giving Tuesday and Not for Profit Finance Week

Launch of Donation Dollar

The Productivity Commission’s Report on the Not-for-profit Sector | Ten Years On, Panel discussion, ACPNS-QUT webinar

Philanthropy Australia Blueprint Steering Group

CCA CEO Forums 

CCA CFO Network meetings

Senior Policy Manager’s Network

Promoting thought leadership in and about our sector

CEO David Crosbie writes fortnightly for Pro Bono News encouraging thinking about the context and the issues affecting the charities and not-for-profit sector. Articles are available at:

2020 contributions included:

Politics and the power of collaboration, 10 December: As political considerations become a more prominent factor in government decision-making, the focus of the charities sector needs to be more about collective action.

Charities as drivers of employment, productivity, and growth, 26 November: If governments were primarily focused on boosting employment and maximising investment in job creation, creating more employment for people in charities would be one of their highest priorities.

Waiting for reform?, 12 November: It’s been 10 years since the Productivity Commission published its report on the charity sector, yet many of the issues it highlighted then are the same today. This suggests we need to take a different approach to sector reform, and get better at promoting our value.

Charity workers – the heart of future Australia, 29 October: At a time when we know some charity workers are struggling, it’s more important than ever to acknowledge how critical charity workers are to our future.

Engagement and advocacy – ensuring our future, 15 October: If we are to build back better, charities will need to play a much more prominent role in policy making for the communities they serve.

The new imperative, 1 October: The launch of Imperative21 signals a substantial movement seeking to reframe the purpose of business around benefitting our communities. It’s time for charities to look beyond government and consider where potential alliances might be formed with business.

Now or never – Time to fix fundraising, 17 September: As charities impacted by COVID-19 desperately pivot to online fundraising to replace income lost from their usual face-to-face activities, it is critical that we fix fundraising regulations.

Investing in charities: economic stimulus spending on steroids, 3 September: The Australian Taxation Office has confirmed that 320,000 charity workers are receiving JobKeeper. When it ends, charities will need a higher level of investment if Australia is to achieve the post-pandemic economic recovery we are all hoping for.

Jobs, charities and building back better, 11 June: CCA and the Charities Crisis Cabinet have advocated a number of priority initiatives that would not only create jobs but boost economic activity and strengthen the level of support available to our communities.

Drawing lines, somewhere, 28 May: The work of many in the charities sector is now defined by a seemingly moveable line that excludes people who are vital members of our communities, our economy and our humanity. 

For the people14 May: The past six months have demonstrated that the shortest route to greater trust is pursuing common good, not sectional interests – this is true for charities and government. 

The good, the hopeful, and the dog’s breakfast, 30 April: Australian charities have demonstrated in this crisis that they are effective advocates to governments. Now they need to look beyond governments to better engagement with their communities.

What happens when the economy needs reviving? 16 April: For those hoping the current supportive response of government will continue, David Crosbie offers a shot of reality… things are not going to get better quickly for most charities. 

COVID-19, charities and charity, 2 April: We need to look after each other to look after ourselves, writes Community Council for Australia CEO David Crosbie. 

‘Charities can be part of the solution’, 19 March: In an open letter to governments across Australia, David Crosbie and Tim Costello make seven suggestions as to how government can work more effectively with charities over the coming months. 

COVID-19, charities and misplaced stimulus, 5 March: The news is all about coronavirus. But, what does this mean for charities?

Have you been innovated? 20 February:  As Community Council for Australia begins the work of developing a charities sector blueprint, the issue of how innovation is applied within the charities sector is one of the critical considerations.

Rocking the cradle, 6 February: Business as usual is no longer going to be enough for governments, neither will it be for charities. If we hope to grow in strength and effectiveness we will need to support collective action for change.

Good grief! 23 January: With recent events shaking our faith in the way we live our lives, charities across Australia must rise to the challenge of rebuilding our communities and use what has happened to fuel our determination not to accept the unacceptable.

CCA Board and CEO

Deputy Chair CCA, CEO Life Without Barriers

CEO The Smith Family

General Manager and Director Hillsong Church

CEO Save the Children


Superintendent/CEO Wesley Mission (Served maximum terms, retired 2020)

CEO Australian Council for International Development

CEO, Mater Foundation (Resigned June 2020)

CEO, The Starlight Foundation

CEO, Centre for Social Impact

Executive Director Brotherhood of St Laurence

CEO, Volunteering Australia

CEO, Social Ventures Australia

CEO, RSPCA Australia

CEO Community Council for Australia

Leadership and commitment

CCA’s greatest strength has always been the inspirational, talented and committed leadership we find in our membership and from there, our Board.
Our thanks to CCA Members and Directors for your involvement and support.