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GetUp spends $7.2M on salaries, $500K on travel and just $3.6M on campaign expenses

Great work from Brad Norington in The Australian today.

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GetUp spent more than 70 per cent of the $12.4m in public donations it raised last year on staff salaries, administration costs and travel, despite telling supporters “every dollar” they gave would be used to build a fairer Australia with spending on billboards, hard-hitting TV ads and rallies.

The left-leaning activist group devoted $3.6m from its annual donations total to “campaign ­expenses” in a federal election year while outlaying $7.2m on salaries and employee benefits.

Another $1.4m was spent on back-room administration costs, $806,000 on rent, and more than $500,000 on travel to fly national director Paul Oosting and other staff around the country, according to the group’s audited financial report.

Mr Oosting defended $7.2m paid to more than six top GetUp executives, including himself, and 50 other lower-level staff on the group’s payroll, telling The Australian they were the “driving force” behind the group’s issues-based campaigns.

“GetUp’s strategists, campaigners, organisers and developers are some of our greatest assets,” he said.

“False reporting from News Corporation papers is frustrating for everyone, but GetUp members are confident that every dollar we raise works to achieve progressive outcomes,” he said.

GetUp regularly seeks donations, appealing online for credit card contributions of $5 to $50 or more. Its website states: “When you support GetUp, you’re powering a million-strong, strategically savvy organisation that makes real change happen.

“Every dollar you donate to GetUp is used to build a more fair, flourishing and just Australia.

“Your donation will be used to fund billboards to get our messages in front of key decision-makers, hard-hitting TV ads into the lounge rooms of key electorates and rallies demonstrating people power. A contribution to GetUp is an investment in extraordinary impact.”

A senior executive with experience in government, charities and non-profit groups told The Australian he accepted it cost money to run them, and salary costs could depend on what services were provided. But he expressed surprise at GetUp’s $7.2m wage bill last year.

“I’d be pretty pissed off as a donor if I learned that out of every dollar raised, only 29c was going out in campaign money because of staff and admin costs,” he said.

In 2018, not an election year, GetUp raised $9.8m from donors. It used $1.8m of these funds for “campaign expenses” — or 18c out of each dollar raised — while spending $5.7m on salaries, $1.3m on administrative costs, $763,000 on rent and $349,000 on travel.

For its “bushfire relief efforts” appeal, GetUp’s website tells supporters their donations will be used to help cover the cost of ongoing GetUp campaigns that have the same purpose “if we raise more than the cost of this campaign”.