A Salvation Army volunteer smiles as a young girl donates money. (Black Press Media file photo)

Canada’s charitable sector facing impending crisis: Report

Who cares if giving goes down? Everyone should.

  • Jan. 2, 2019 9:47 a.m.

By John Longhurst

Canada’s charitable sector is facing an impending funding crisis.

That’s the warning being issued by CanadaHelps, one of Canada’s leading philanthropic organizations.

Its new report, titled The Giving Report, 2018, found that donations are down across all age groups.

In 2015, 20.4%, or one-fifth of tax-filers, claimed charitable deductions, compared to 24.6, or a quarter, in 2006.

Demographically, donations rates decreased between 4-6% in almost every age group in that time frame—except for older people.

The report found that although Canadians donated more total dollars to charity in 2016 than in 2006, the rate of charitable giving is not keeping up with population growth.

READ MORE: Bah humbug: Canadians’ donations to charity down 30% since 2006

At the same time, the average donation amount per Canadian per year, 18 years of age or older, has decreased from $368 to $346.

“Canada might have more people, but we’re giving less than ever,” the report states.

It adds that “with both donation rates and donation amounts dropping, a dangerous trend for the charitable sector has emerged.”

Best givers not being replaced

The best givers, the report notes, are 55 or older. In 2015, they collectively gave just over two-thirds of the total amount of charitable donations.

Not only do these older Canadians give more, they are the only Canadians who have increased the amount they give over the past ten years.

This is a sharp contrast to Canadians in the 25-54 age group, who have seen decreases in their donations of 2.8% per year.

“This makes the decreases by this younger age group more concerning, as they are the largest age group,” the report states.

It adds “this giving model is unsustainable for the country’s charitable sector.”

Adding to the urgency is the fact the best givers—the oldest people—are literally dying. When they are gone, so too will be their donations.

Why is giving decreasing?

One reason for the decline is that Canadians may simply be overwhelmed by the number of needs in Canada and around the world. There are so many good and worthy causes to support!

The increased cost of living is also a factor, especially for people living in Canada’s largest cities.

Economic uncertainty is another reason, especially for younger people who live in what’s called the “gig” economy—living from contract to contract.

Since religiosity is one of the strongest indicators of whether someone donates, the decline in attendance at religious services is also playing a role.

With fewer people attending services, there will be fewer people learning about needs at home or around the world, and then giving from a sense of religious joy and duty.

What it means

Who cares if giving goes down? Everyone should.

This includes governments, at all levels. Where will people go if a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen closes? Where will hospitals get funds for research? What happens to kids who no longer have a volunteer-run after school sports program? To the government, of course.

It also applies to us as individuals. We may not need charity now, but we may need the research being done on various diseases one day—research that is supported by donations. Or we may enjoy a trail kept-up by a non-profit group, or by help provided to panhandlers so they can find housing and jobs.

What to do?

The challenge is clear. But what to do?

That’s a question that occupies the mind of Darren Pries-Klassen, CEO of Abundance Canada, a donor-advised foundation that encourages charitable giving.

“There’s no quick fix,” he says. “But at least we should be talking about it—charities, government officials, churches, concerned citizens and the media.”

For him, the big questions are: “How do we motivate the next generation of givers? How can we promote generosity to younger generations? And what will replace religion as a catalyst for giving?

So far, there are no magic solutions. “But starting a conversation would be a good first step,” he says.

John Longhurst is a freelance writer.

With offices in Kitchener, Winnipeg, Calgary and Abbotsford, Abundance Canada is a donor-advised public foundation that enables individuals to achieve their philanthropic goals during their lifetime and through their estates.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Free cancer care workshops at SHOAL centre this May

Cancer charity InspireHealth offer patient-centred worhshops

Cathedral to hold inclusive memorial for those lost through overdoses

Christ Church Cathedral memorial to respect diverse spirituality of participants

Experts suggest Esquimalt explores hub-and-spoke medical clinic model

Dr. Eileen Pepler says Esquimalt is in a ‘dire’ situation for medical care accessibility

Second cannabis dispensary earns Langford approval

The Original Farm Langford Ltd. plans to open in Belmont Market

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria receives $2.8M Anthony Thorn donation

Victoria News article inspires hefty donation for gallery expansion

Prince George sweeps to first-ever BC Hockey League crown

Spruce Kings beat Vernon Vipers 3-1 in the Okanagan Wednesday for 13th straight playoff win

Hwang’s first MLS goal lifts Whitecaps to 1-0 win over LAFC

Vancouver picks up first victory of season

Child-proof your windows ahead of warm weather: B.C. expert

Fifteen children were taken to BC Children’s Hospital for falls in 2018

B.C. trucker pleads guilty to lesser charges in fatal Manitoba crash

Gurjant Singh was fined $3,000 and given a one-year driving prohibition.

Study links preschool screen time to behavioural and attention problems

The research looked at more than 2,400 families

Island man guilty of child porn charges, Crown alleges 250,000 images

Psychiatric assessment requested by Crown, sentencing to be set June 4 in Nanaimo court

More than $100,000 raised for family of professional skier who died near Pemberton

Dave Treadway leaves behind his pregnant wife and two young boys

BC SPCA asks public for donations after puppy caught in trap

The puppy’s medical bills are expected to amount to more than $4,600

Most Read