Following a scoping study by Deloitte Access Economic (DAE) in July 2013, the Board of SEIROS was formed to commission sociological and econometric research on the contribution that organized religion makes to Australian society. The Board, chaired by Bishop Robert Forsyth of the Anglican Church, includes representatives of most of the major religious organisations in Australia.
SEIROS’ first project was a survey to determine the time and money that the typical Australian spends on voluntary philanthropy. Designed by the Christian Research Association in accordance with a research paper issued by Professor Ram Cnaan of the University of Pennsylvania, the survey was designed to establish the difference that religious faith and observance make to Australian giving. DAE analysed the data that related to persons who had come to religion as adults (3-4% of the total population) and concluded that they are 23% more likely to donate than their non-religious peers, and 25% more likely to volunteer and assist others outside their family and religious groups. DAE conservatively calculated the opportunity value of that extra philanthropy to the Australian economy at half a billion dollars a year but indicated that the cost of replacing that voluntary philanthropy if the Federal Government had to commission and pay for the same service was much higher. The report can be found at https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/economics/articles/donating-volunteering-behaviour-associated-with-religiosity.html.
The Federal Government’s Department of Social Security (DSS) has also funded SEIROS’ to further analyse the data to include all religiously observant people in Australia. As of July 2021, that research has been completed and following independent peer-review will be presented to the DSS and the Australian Government before formal publication here.
Other projects planned by SEIROS include a survey by the National Church Life Survey (NCLS Research) of all the religious institutions in Greater Western and Southern Sydney to determine their economic impact on Australian Society.
Further SEIROS research projects will include an analysis of other Australian econometric data to determine the contribution of the not-for-profit sector to the Australian economy with the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture (ACCC) at Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Canberra.
All projects will be peer-reviewed by independent economists.
As donated funds become available, SEIROS will commission further projects which respond to questions raised by academic and political debate in Australia.