Charitable donations on the decline in Canada: Fraser Institute report
Fewer Canadians are donating to charity, and those who are are donating less. That’s the findings of the Fraser Institute’s annual study of Canadians donating habits titles Generosity in Canada: the 2021 Generosity Index.
The Fraser Institute uses publically available data from Canadians' tax returns to determine how much Canadians form each province donate, and what percentage of their income Canadians donate.
“We're seeing a continuing trend of Canadians donating less as a share of their income. That actually hit the second-lowest point since the year 2000, in terms of the share of income donated by Canadians,” said Jake Fuss, senior economist with The Fraser Institute. “That's certainly bad news for the most vulnerable people in our society, who rely on charitable donations for essential things like food and shelter in particular.”
Manitobans are the most generous with both the highest percentage of individual donors (21.9 per cent), as well people from that province gave the highest percentage of their income to charity (0.74 per cent).
Newfoundland and Labrador had the lowest percentage of donors (17.1 per cent), while Quebecers donated the lowest percentage of their incomes (0.24 per cent).
Albertans fall in the middle of the pack; 5th place terms of how many donate to charity. 18.6 per cent of Albertans reported charitable donations on their 2019 returns, the same percentage as people in Quebec. Those Albertans who do donate though donate the highest amount among Canadians, offering up an average of $2,857 per donation. Finn says that is still well below historic donation levels.
“In Alberta, for instance, we've seen about a 22 per cent drop in the proportion of tax filers making donations over the last decade. And we've also seen about a 10 per cent drop in the share of income donated in Alberta as well over the last decade," said Finn. “These are pretty serious numbers. And they obviously have big implications, too, for charities and for vulnerable people in our society, who rely on these charitable donations for a lot of things in their daily lives.”
PANDEMIC TAKES BILLION DOLLAR TOLL ON GIVING
The Fraser institute uses tax data for its donation analysis. The last year for which that data is available is 2019, so its study does not consider the effects of the pandemic.
The charitable foundation CanadaHelps surveyed Canadians to determine how the pandemic affected the amount people are giving to charity. What it found is troubling.
“Overall, we saw that during the pandemic, again, in this time, this time of need only 12 per cent of Canadians increase their giving, while 18 per cent of Canadians actually reduced their giving during the pandemic," said Jacob O’Connor, a charity engagement officer with CanadaHelps. “We actually projected in 2020, a 10 per cent drop in overall giving so that's a big drop."
"It's actually over a billion dollars in giving that was lost in 2020.”
The foundation also discovered a widening disparity among the age of those donating to charity.
“That age group of 55 plus is actually giving at double the rate of the group from 25 to 54. That's something that we're we've kind of dubbed ‘the giving gap’ where after the 55 plus group, there is this gap where that (younger) group is not engaging quite the same in the charitable sector," said O’Connor. “It is a little bit worrisome for the future when that that older group is not able to give any more.”
You can learn more about CanadaHelps programs, or make a donation through its website at www.canadahelps.org.