Opinion article* published in The Newcastle Herald written by University of Newcastle Lecturer in Communications Paul Scott.

Do you donate your time to a non-profit organisation? Or money to charity?

By world standards, Australians are a generous mob when it comes to donating money to charities, and time and effort to non-profits.

But what do you expect to receive in return?

A green light for a development application? A loosening of a regulatory framework; a change in legislation; information regarding a tendering process; an empathetic ear? Or someone to look away?

Maybe you expect nothing more than a warm, fuzzy feeling when your head hits the pillow, knowing that your contribution made someone’s life a little better.

While the ICAC focused on (corrupt) giving and taking, and the federal budget was all about taking, two new reports highlighted the terrific capacity of Australians to give generously to those in need.

National Volunteer Week celebrated its 25th anniversary and acknowledged the important and ongoing contribution of 6 million Aussies who sacrifice time and money to help those in need or those who are less fortunate.

And one of Australia’s big banks released its fourth annual charitable giving index.

It is rarely unreasonable to argue with any bank’s motivation or methodology for calculating just about anything.

It’s of little comfort when you read the fine print around the charity index, which advises the bank does not warrant or represent that the information, recommendations, conclusions or opinions are accurate, reliable, complete or current.

Not a great deal of wriggle room in that non-guarantee.

The sceptics will suggest a bank’s charitable giving index is about utilising data to trawl through customer records to achieve an outcome that is as much about their own brand building and customer engagement than it is to provide charities with a useful snapshot of donor behaviour.

Nevertheless, the charity giving index found our nation’s donors dug deep in the year to February 2014.

Read the full article in the Newcastle Herald.

*This opinion piece represents the author’s views.