CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
In any given year, ACFID collects a significant amount of data on its members. Elements of this data have been presented in our annual reports each year and from time to time, specific one-off pieces of research and data gathering are also carried out. While each of these data forms is useful and serves a purpose in its own right, ACFID saw value in consolidating such data to build up a more comprehensive and robust analysis of the State of the Australian aid and development NGO sector.
The purpose of the report is to provide ACFID’s membership and the wider NFP aid and development sector with an understanding of where the sector is at, where it is going into the future and how it is progressing on that journey. It aims to do this by iteratively developing a shared understanding of both what a healthy sector looks like (as captured in the characteristics) and the current state of the sector (as reflected in the data and analysis). By exposing the difference between the two, we hope that the report will generate discussion, ideas and a commitment for action.
The report is framed around a suite of characteristics. Each characteristic has a set of indicatorsagainst which the characteristic is reported. Individual indicators do not necessarily point directly to the health of the sector in regard to that characteristic. Some are proxy indicators, and some will hold more weight than others. Therefore, when reading the report, it is important to look at how all indicators under the characteristic speak collectively. As engagement with stakeholders continues, both indicators and characteristics may change over the coming years as we continue to refine and develop both the report and our data collection.
In response to need and varying focuses within the sector, the report will provide an in-depth analysis into a particular characteristic or element of one. For the inaugural report, we look more closely into the financial resourcing of the sector.
In some areas of the report, current aggregate data does not allow us to develop a picture of the stated characteristic at all. This will be discussed in more detail in the concluding chapter.
The report has drawn on data from numerous, readily available sources. Detailed information on the methodology and datasets used can be found in Annex A.
The ACNC collects data from approx. 55,000 NFPs each year. This is achieved through Annual Information Statements (AIS) that are designed to cover all types of charities and therefore can only speak directly to a few of the indicators in this report, such as some areas of funding, staffing and volunteering. Most importantly, the AISs do not have a single variable that allows aid and development NGOs to be easily distinguished from other types of NGOs that work overseas. As such, we have isolated NGOs based on a set of filters, providing an imperfect result but a good approximation that is similar to other researchers who have done the same.
The largest database that we drew from is the ACFID Annual Statistical Survey which provides detailed information regarding the organisations in our membership and the work that they do down to individual project level. For this reason, this dataset is the backbone of the report.
The report is based around a suite of characteristics of a healthy development NGO sector. Each characteristic captures important aspects of how development NGOs function as a community, how development NGOs interact within the Australian community, and how development NGOs work in other countries. Each characteristic has a set of indicators that we report against.