Wealthy Australians with private philanthropic foundations are giving more to charitable causes in health, education and welfare, but less to the environment, QUT research has found.
Donations to causes in health more than doubled to $33 million in 2011/12 from $14.1 million in 2010/11, an analysis of Australian Taxation Office statistics on private foundation giving found.
Educational non-profits received $24.7 million in 2011/12 (up from $9.9million) and welfare-related charities secured $68.8 million (up from $42 million), but environmental non-profits received $8.1 million (down from $13.3 million).
Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes, director of QUT's Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, said the research analysed the amount given to charitable organisations from private foundations, or Private Ancillary Funds (PAFs).
"Overall, wealthy Australians consistently donate the most to non-profits in welfare, which would include well-known charities like The Salvation Army, World Vision and the Red Cross," Professor McGregor-Lowndes said.
"The 2011/12 statistics reveal spikes in the amount given by PAFs to causes in education, health and research. However the amount given to environmental causes and sports and recreation fell.
"Individual large grants to particular organisations can cause a spike in any year, but over the years, the welfare category has attracted twice the amount of support of the next highest category, which is cultural organisations.
"This indicates where the wealthy perceive the need is greatest, or where they can get the biggest bang for their philanthropic buck."
Professor McGregor-Lowndes said the total amount donated to PAFs for the year ending June 30 2012, had increased 16 per cent on the previous financial year, to $354 million.
Of this, PAFs distributed $251.6 million in 2011/12 and had a total closing value of $2.9 billion.
Since 2001, PAFs have distributed more than $1.2 billion.
Explore further: Zuckerberg tops US donations with $1 bn
The research findings are available online: eprints.qut.edu.au/74042/