Holiday giving expected to hit $5 billion

This holiday season about 60 per cent of Canadian adults are expected to donate approximately $5 billion.

  • Dec. 8, 2015 5:00 a.m.

This holiday season about 60 per cent of Canadian adults are expected to donate approximately $5 billion between now and the end of the year, according to Imagine Canada.

This annual tide of generosity is essential to thousands of charities and the communities they serve. According to StatisticsCanada, Canadians give just under $13 billion annually to charities and nonprofits, meaning that approximately 40% of all donations take place in the last six weeks of the year.

Statistics Canada identifies “compassion for those in need” as the top reason Canadians donate (89%), followed by“personally believe in a cause” (85 per cent) and “contribute to our communities” (79 per cent). Six-in-ten (61 per cent) are motivated by being personally affected by the cause.

These motivations underscore the holiday season’s importance as an opportunity for caring individuals to strengthen their communities in ways that are important to them.

“Holiday giving is crucial to strengthening our social fabric,” says Bruce MacDonald, president and CEO of Imagine Canada.“By taking a more strategic approach to giving, people can make their gift more meaningful and enhance the satisfaction that comes from making a highly personalized contribution to helping others and transforming communities.”

Here are Imagine Canada’s top five suggested strategies for holiday giving:

1. Align your gift with your passion: When making a donation, consider the sort of world you want to build. Ally yourself with charitable organizations that reflect your ideals and invest in the future you want to see unfold. Charities welcome dialogue, so connect and communicate. Even better, volunteer.

2. Model giving for your children, peers: nothing builds a child or teenager’s character like helping people in need. By engaging your children and even peers in your philanthropic activities and priorities, you pay forward the spirit of giving and generate long-term momentum for support of charities. Research shows clearly that many people give because philanthropy was modelled for them by their parents. Inspiring young people to give back is fundamental to building strong, caring communities.

3. Focus on impact, not overhead: Evaluating or ranking a charity solely on how much it spends on overhead can be misleading. The bottom line on effectiveness is what the organization accomplishes, not necessarily what it spends on infrastructure or fundraising. Wise spending and being accountable and transparent are important criteria, but we need to remember that without investment, services would be impossible to deliver real impact requires real investment.

4. Be flexible about donation amounts: Research shows that donations have been generally flat for the past five years. This is a serious challenge because costs facing charities continue to grow. People begin supporting charities in their youth even if they don’t have a lot of resources, but their giving often does not to grow along with their income. Part of a sound giving strategy is being flexible about the size of your gift and basing the amount on what you can afford.

5. Leadership matters: A charity’s success is always linked to how well it is led and managed. Strong leadership, efficient administration and good governance are key qualities to look for when evaluating a charity. One important sign of sound management is accreditation by a third party. Some are eligible for accreditation for a specific type of work, such as healthcare, but all charities can be accredited through Imagine Canada’s Standards Program. This initiative involves rigorous peer review of board governance, financial accountability and transparency, fundraising, staff management and volunteer involvement. Although the program is relatively new, 160 charities display this program’s Trust mark and many more are going through the process.

Visit for a complete listing of accredited charities along with a comprehensive Guide to Giving to help with charitable decision making.


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