Giving to Charity is Even More Important Now—but You Should Exercise Caution

Nov 24, 2023

In a charitable mood? You’re not alone. And as you may or may not be aware, there are more than 85,000 Canadian registered charities to choose from and thousands more unregistered charities to boot. That’s apart from the multitudes of global charitable causes looking for financial support from citizens like us.

The decision you’ll have to make is choosing which one(s) align with your personal philosophy when it comes to donating funds. You’ll want to find out all you can about it/them. One excellent place to start is here.

An important consideration when deciding to get involved in financially supporting a charity is understanding how your donations will be applied by that charity. You may wish to discover:

  • What proportion of it actually goes to the chosen cause?
  • What proportion goes to administration?

Whichever charity(s) you decide to support is entirely your own choice but being aware of how your money is allocated or spent is certainly something you’ll want to explore. Especially as more and more Canadians are now relying on their fellow Canadians’ charitable assistance to get through their daily lives. You’ll want your money to reach the most needy or have the most impact.

The Giving Report 2023

Our research on this topic took us to CanadaHelps.org to get a better picture of what’s been happening in the last few years since the pandemic and the impact of the growing rate of inflation on charities. The overall health of our country and those citizens who are disadvantaged relies on charities: the funds they raise and the services they provide.

The key quotation we took from the report states:

The rising cost of living and prolonged impacts from the pandemic have more Canadians in need of charitable services. At the same time, fewer Canadians are making charitable donations.

Canadian Charities Are Facing Alarming Challenges

The report goes on to express the following statistics and concerns:

  • Since the start of the pandemic 40.3% of charities have experienced increased demand that has not levelled off once the crisis waned.
  • 22% of Canadians (that’s 2 in 10 people) are already using charitable services to get by or think they’ll need to use them in the near future to meet basic necessities.
  • Based on analysis of recent tax filer data, the percentage of Canadians who give to charity is down 5% over the past 10 years.
  • Current levels of demand cannot be met by 57.3% of charities.
  • 55.2% of charities have fewer active volunteers and 41.8% of charities are highly concerned about attracting volunteers.
  • 2022 saw 31.5% of charities raising less funding.
  • Staff burnout is a major concern for 50.8% of Canadian charities, and the rate of burnout for volunteers worries 42% of charities.

Big or Small?

What this all tells us is that those of us Canadians who could help by making regular charitable donations are desperately needed. Another important bit of information the report reveals is that “Small charities (under $500,000 in annual revenue) receive 0.1% of all government funding, while very large charities (revenues of $5,000,000+) receive 96% of all government funding despite representing less than 4% of all Canadian charities.”

As you can see, it’s the large charities that receive the most funding from the government. Small charities rely on donations. This is where your financial support could possibly make a bigger difference.

Ultimately, It’s Your Choice

Not sure where or to what you should make your donation? Take time to research causes which are close to your heart and align with your values. There are thousands of choices to be looked at which fall under the following categories and more: health, social/civic, environmental, science, political, educational, religious, associations and so on.

You can also consult the List of Charities on the Canada Revenue Agency website or call 1-800-267-2384 for a list of eligible registered charities in Canada. All registered charities provide a tax receipt so that you can make a claim on your income tax return.

If however, you make a donation to an unregistered charity, remember you won’t be provided a receipt for your tax return. But don’t let that stop you from supporting a cause you’re in favour of. Making charitable donations is about helping those in need whether or not you get something back. There are many good charities that exist that aren’t registered who would value your support.

In lieu of making financial donations, especially if you are struggling to make ends meet yourself is to become a much-needed volunteer. Your time is valuable as well, and volunteering is an excellent way to give back!

Stay Informed, Lead With Your Values & Do What You Can

Based on the information we’ve accumulated while thinking and writing about charitable giving, it’s important to consider the following – if you haven’t already done so:

  1. Be selective and consistent. Identify the charitable causes you wish to support and – if you can afford it – make regular contributions. Try to avoid showering eligible causes with ad hoc contributions, especially as year end approaches. It can be self-defeating.
  2. Be aware. Once it becomes known – word travels fast, especially online – that you are a charitable giver, you will be approached by other charities asking for similar help. Be prepared for this by saying: I have identified the causes I wish to support. Thank you for your interest, but I am already giving as much as I can afford. At that point, terminate the discussion.
  3. Be cautious. Sadly, far too much of what passes for charitable solicitation – especially over the telephone – is a scam. Visit this government website for more information. Remember: Never provide a credit card number or personal financial information to a stranger asking for help on behalf of a charitable cause, however convincing their request. Diligently do your research on the charity first.

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