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:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Brotherhood of St Laurence – was founded in an Anglican parish and has a chaplaincy team that provides pastoral care and support for people’s spiritual needs. They provide services that support disadvantaged people of all ages to build better lives for themselves.
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.
Who should I avoid giving money to?
We recommend you avoid donating to Anglicare Australia. The reason for this is that they are not clear about how they are governed and managed, who they are governed by (and if they have relevant experience), or how they ensure funds are used for their stated purpose. Finally, and critically, Anglicare Australia do not disclose how much they receive in donations, or how donations are treated once received.
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!