Which children’s health charity should I donate to?

This analysis reflects our 2018 recommendations. Subscribe now for updates.

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NOTE: THE FOLLOWING CHARITY REVIEW WAS ADDED 7 DECEMBER 2018 AND IS NOT REFLECTED IN THIS OVERVIEW.


Australia’s healthcare system is set up to deliver world-class medical treatment to children suffering from serious and chronic illness. However, even with the best treatment, medical intervention will take an emotional toll on not only those affected by the illness, but for those closest to them. Because of this, there are a number of large charities in Australia that provide sick kids and their families with the support  needed to cope with illness.

The Good Cause Co. have evaluated four of Australia’s most recognised children’s health charities to help you decide who to donate to:

Which one is the best?

Of this list, there is no clear standout. They all achieve our ‘Donate’ recommendation. This means they seem generally trustworthy, and can demonstrate they are mostly effective. However, they need to provide further information in order for us to recommend them with confidence.

So, how do I choose between them?

They are all similar in that they focus on offering the specialised support needed for children and their families to cope with illness.

  • Ronald McDonald House Charities Trust provides houses, family rooms in hospitals, and family retreats

  • Starlight Children’s Foundation provides breakout rooms and entertainment within children’s hospitals, as well as wish granting

  • Camp Quality provides hospital entertainment and therapy, cancer education and camps to children affected by cancer

  • CanTeen provides counselling, peer support programs and activities to young people affected by cancer.

However, there are a few differentiating factors that may help you choose between them. I’ll highlight a few here:

  • Do you want to support kids who are sick, or kids who are specifically affected by cancer? Ronald McDonald House Charities and Starlight Children’s Foundation primarily support children and families admitted to Australia’s children’s hospitals. Camp Quality and CanTeen, on the other hand, support children affected by cancer. This includes offering support to a child who has a a parent or sibling with cancer.

  • Do you want to know how the charity tracks its own performance? Both Starlight and Camp Quality describe clearly how they monitor performance. They set a variety of performance targets and report on the actual results in their financial report. On the other hand, Ronald McDonald House Charities and CanTeen are less clear on how or if they monitor their performance.

  • Is it important that the charity’s leaders have hadrelevant personal experiences? CanTeen has a board that is almost entirely made up of young people that have benefitted from CanTeen’s services. In contrast, Ronald McDonald House Charities’ board comprises a number of McDonalds Corporation representatives. Starlight Children’s Foundation and Camp Quality do not have constraints over how their board is structured. In all cases the board members are volunteers acting in goodwill, but the experience, drive and motivations of each will be entirely different.

The Good Cause Co.’s “Should I Give To…” provides independent evaluations of Australia’s largest charities. We will be publishing over 50 critical reviews of charities that are seeking your donation. It’s time to find out which Australian charities are the star performers!