Huge jump in rugby league fundraising tops $1m
There has been a record increase in donations to rugby league via the Australian Sports Foundation in the 2017-18 financial year to $1.13 million.
The sum is a more than 2.5-fold increase on the $429,000 donated in 2016-17.
Because donations made via the Foundation are tax deductible while donations directly to a club are not, clubs can more readily encourage charitable donations in partnership with the Foundation.
According to the NRL, the Wests Tigers and Sharks are the two clubs who have been the most proactive in this area.
"The Australian Sports Foundation works with many NRL clubs and local rugby league clubs to help raise funds to support a variety of projects and programs. The rugby league community should be congratulated for digging deep and donating to the sport," an NRL spokesperson said.
Earlier this year, the Wests Tigers launched the Wests Tigers Foundation in partnership with the Australian Sports Foundation to encourage investment in the club in the areas of 'Elite', 'Community' and 'Heritage'.
In April, Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe said the new entity had already raised $1 million and would help supporters commit to the club via tax-deductable donations.
"The Wests Tigers Foundation has been developed to allow us to invest additional funds and resources into a range of areas. It gives supporters the opportunity to commit to the club and donate money that will be invested across the Elite, Community and Heritage pillars," Pascoe told NRL.com.
"By partnering with the Australian Sports Foundation we've been able to provide an opportunity for supporters to make tax deductible donations, something that was not possible before.
"In doing so we've been able to increase the amount of funding that is coming into the club and provide benefits not only to Wests Tigers but to our donors."
The increase from $429,000 in 2016-17 to this year's total continues a sharp increase in rugby league donations via the Foundation from $139,000 in 2015-16, pushing the code to seventh in Australia.
The dramatic uptick in rugby league specifically is in part due to a wider awareness within the sport and its clubs of the benefits of tax-deductible donating, which can be particularly effective in areas such as Indigenous and women's rugby league, according to the Foundation.
Multi-sports (including things like consolidated sporting ventures that include multiple sports) was first with around $12.5 million, just ahead of AFL ($12.2 million). Golf ($7.1m), rugby ($2.6m), sailing ($1.8m) and soccer ($1.2m) rounded out the top six fundraising sports.
"The $44.7m donated in 2017-18 again illustrates how important donors regard the health, community and social benefits of sports participation, and the Sports Foundation applauds the continued generosity of Australians" said Foundation CEO Patrick Walker in a statement.
"Rugby league's fundraising was a massive increase and highlights the code's tremendous fundraising potential."
Donations can be in areas such as grassroots, providing equipment or uniforms to junior clubs, or at the elite level via charity drives and fundraisers.