Australians are giving less to charity but remain among the most generous givers in the world, according to Australia's peak charity body.

Released by the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission this week, the Australian Charities Report 2016 found that donations and bequests fell last year from $11.2 billion to $10.5 billion. But it also found that, thanks to other sources of income such as membership fees and user-pays services, Australia's 52,000 charities reported an increased $142.8 billion in revenue last year.

Murray Baird, the acting ACNC commissioner, said while Australians were still "incredibly generous" and ranked in the 2017 World Giving Index as the 6th most generous nation in the world, the commission hoped to see donations grow again.

"We hope to see this bounce back this year and we encourage Australians to consider donating to a registered charity during the traditional Christmas giving period," he said.

Donations and bequests only made up 7.3 per cent of charity revenue with 49 per cent made up of membership fees, user-pays services and other income sources and 43 per cent from government grants. The majority of charities - 67 per cent - are considered small with a revenue of between $50,000 and $250,000.

Charities spend $137.1 billion pursing their charitable purpose in 2016.

Other findings in the report showed that one in two charities have no paid staff while more than 2.9 million people volunteered for a charity at an average of 58 people per charity.

The most common type of charity is a religious group with 31 per cent of charities falling into this category. Only 8.4 per cent of charities help communities overseas with the top 10 countries where they do including India, the Philippines, New Zealand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, the US, Thailand, Fiji and Nepal.