Who’s giving to charity in Canada today? How do we give? Are we as generous today as we were 30 years ago? Why do we give? And what stops us from giving?
Thanks to a deep dive that was recently undertaken by Imagine Canada into the giving patterns of Canadians, we now have a more in-depth understanding of the answers to those questions than ever before.
As part of its Giving Behaviour Project, Canada’s Rideau Hall Foundation asked Imagine Canada to mine and analyze all publicly available data sources on Canadians’ giving habits from 1984 to 20141, the result of which is the most comprehensive long-range picture of individual giving in Canada that has ever been compiled.
Canadians Continue to be Generous
Canadians have long demonstrated a strong sense of generosity, and that spirit of giving continues to be evident. Total receipted donations rose from $3.8 billion in 1984 to $9.6 billion in 2014. When unreceipted donations are included, Imagine Canada estimates that giving by individual Canadians totaled $14.3 billion in 2014.
“These numbers indicate that Canadians continue to express generosity through the medium of charitable giving in a meaningful and robust way,” says Bruce MacDonald, president and CEO of Imagine Canada.
Fewer Donors, Older, More Affluent and Increasingly Female
While Canadians’ generosity continues to be evident, Imagine Canada did find that the makeup of the Canadian donor base is changing, and in 2014, it is best described as smaller, older, more affluent and increasingly female compared to what it was in 1984.
Their analysis highlighted that charities are increasingly reliant on fewer donors, as the proportion of Canadian tax filers claiming donations has declined from a peak of almost 30 percent in 1990 to 21 percent in 2014.
And if you delve into those numbers, there are further, and in some cases troubling, nuances, including the aging of the donor base. “Back in 1984, the percentage of donations coming from people who were 50 and over was about 54 percent,” notes MacDonald. “By 2014, that had jumped to 74 percent.”
The most elderly group (those aged 70 and over) alone accounted for 31 percent of donations, up from 16 percent. At the other end of the spectrum, donors under 40 accounted for almost 50 percent of donors in 1984 but dropped to about 35 percent in 2014. Even more striking is the drop in donation value among the under 40 population. In 1984, donations from this group represented 26 percent of donations in 1984, while only 11 percent in 2014.