Updated June 25, 2019. Subscribe now to stay informed.
Some of the most well-recognised Australian charities have close ties with religion. Many charities that serve Australia’s poorest often grew from humble beginnings like soup kitchens and homeless shelters initiated by religious leaders and churches. Over time, these initiatives have grown into large, well-known charities that are now leaders in delivering social services to those most disadvantaged across the country.
What’s unique about religious charities?
Not surprisingly, religious charities have a very strong spiritual motivation. While non-religious or agnostic charities exist to address specific social problems, religious charities typically exist in order to live out “Jesus’ word” (for example). They don’t just seek to find a home for those that are homeless; their work is focused on nurturing the soul of that person. To do this, they provide spiritual guidance to those in need, whilst also addressing their basic human needs. They also may have a religious leader (like a priest) guiding the organisation.
Which religious charity should I donate to?
If you think spiritual guidance is important, the question still remains: which religious charity should you support to improve the lives of disadvantaged Australians?
The Good Cause Co. has evaluated some of Australia’s largest religious charities to help answer this question: Yourtown, Sacred Heart Mission, Mission Australia, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Anglicare Australia and The Salvation Army.
Who are the best?
We have found a number of extraordinary religious charities that clearly demonstrate they are improving the lives of those they are trying to serve. We believe you can have confidence in donating to any of the following charities:
Yourtown - (formerly known as BoysTown) derives its values from the Lasallian Charism. They help young people across Australia "find jobs, learn skills, become great parents and live safer, happier lives.”
Sacred Heart Mission – is based at the Sacred Heart Parish Hall in St Kilda. They provide crisis, short-term and medium-term solutions for the homeless through engagement hubs, individualised planned support, longer-term support, and providing accommodation across Melbourne.
Mission Australia – a “national Christian charity helping Australians in need move towards independence”. They provide national services across multiple themes, including homelessness and housing; families; children and early learning; young people; disability and mental wellbeing support; employment skills and training; alcohol, drugs and dependencies support.
Based on our analysis, these charities all demonstrate they are both trustworthy and effective at helping disadvantaged communities. They are clear about how they are governed and are transparent with their finances. They have a logical strategic direction and focus, use evidence to inform the types of activities they undertake, evaluate their programs, and importantly demonstrate a commitment to improving the outcomes of their services.
WHAT ABOUT THE REST?
Brotherhood of St Laurence achieve our “Donate” recommendation. They are trustworthy, and can demonstrate they are mostly effective. However, they need to provide further information in order for us to recommend them with confidence.
We recommend you avoid donating to Anglicare Australia and The Salvation Army. The reason for this is that we were unable to identify basic governance mechanisms that ensure funds are used for their purpose.
Still not sure which charity is right for you? Contact us and we will help guide you in the right direction.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
The Good Cause Co.’s “Should I Give To…” provides independent evaluations of Australia’s largest charities. Our reviews are comprehensive and consider both the trustworthiness and effectiveness of each charity. We update our recommendations annually to ensure we provide relevant advice. We do this to help you feel confident about giving.