Live Well, Do Good

Donating is a Great Way to Feel Connected to Your Community

Brandon Sun, December 28, 2006 - David McConkey

The vast majority of Canadians donate money to the 160,000 charitable and other non-profit organizations in the country. Totaling about $9 billion, these donations support many important efforts. Our communities are more sociable, secure, and sustainable.  

A recent survey by Statistics Canada found that 85% of the population aged 15 and older make a financial donation during the year. About the same percentage also give an in-kind donation such as clothing, toys, household goods, or food. In fact, almost everyone (94%) gives either a financial or in-kind donation.

Donating is an important way that people are connected to the overall society. Only about one-half as many people, for example, volunteer their time.

Who donates? The likelihood of donating and the amount donated generally rises with age, education, and household income. Interestingly, though, poorer donors give a higher percentage of their income than wealthier donors.

Americans give more than twice as much per capita as Canadians. However, this is at least partly due to differences in income taxes in the two nations.

Some American studies show that right-wing people give more than left-wingers. Some have speculated that the same pattern could be found in Canada: Albertans, for example, give much more than people in Quebec.

The median annual donation in Canada is $120, but there is great variation across the population. The top 25% of donors give 82% of the total donations.

There are some other interesting facts. The percentage of the population who donates is generally higher in Eastern Canada than in Western Canada. The range is from a high of 93% in Newfoundland and Labrador to a low of 77% in British Columbia.
The average amount donated, however, is higher in Ontario and the West: the range is a high of $500 in Alberta to a low of just $176 in Quebec. (Manitoba, by the way, weighs in at 84% and $455.)

The Canada Revenue Agency also reports that donations to registered charities reported on income tax returns is higher in Ontario and the West. The range is from a high of 1.02% of income donated in Manitoba to a low of 0.33% in Quebec.
Women (88%) are more likely to donate than men (82%), but the average donation from men is higher than from women. Married people (including common law unions) are more likely to donate (90%) than the separated / divorced (85%), widowed (84%), or single (75%).
Religious organizations receive the most support from Canadian donors, at 45% of the total money donated. However, other organizations, such as those concerned with health and social services, have a wider base of support among the population. Other important areas to receive support are education / research and sports / recreation.
Most donations are made as a result of requests to make a contribution. In fact, only 3% of donations resulted from donors making their own approach to an organization. In 2005, donations jumped to a record high, and are thought to be the response to appeals to donate to the Asian tsunami and other disaster relief efforts.

Donors, however, who plan ahead, give more than others. This is an area where charities could focus more of their attention. Only 4% of donors, for example, provide for charitable bequests in their wills.

The four most important reasons for donating are: feeling compassion towards others, helping a cause one believes in, making a contribution to the community, and supporting a cause that has personally affected one or somebody one knows.

Giving to receive a tax credit ranked much lower than giving for other reasons. However, income tax credits do reward financial donations. Furthermore, over one-half of those surveyed said that they would give even more if those credits were to be increased.

Next article is how get a break on your taxes through charitable donations.

* * * 

See also:

Live Well, Do Good  Tax Time Offers Folks a Chance to Reflect

Political Contributions:  Top Ten Canadian Tax Tips 

Charitable Donations:  Top Ten Canadian Tax Tips

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