Feb 1: With inflation squeezing Canadians, charitable giving is in decline

February 1, 2024

There’s no question that this era of inflation – where interest rates have jumped more than they have in decades — is squeezing Canadians.

One category that is suffering from this period of tight spending is charitable giving.

According to the Kingston Whig-Standard, “the number of taxpayers who gave to charitable causes dropped to 17.7 per cent in 2021 — a 20-year low, according to the Fraser Institute’s annual report measuring generosity in Canada,” the Whig reports. “Charitable giving hit a high in 2004, with 25.4 per cent of tax filers making donations, but gifts to charity have dropped each year since. Twenty-three per cent of taxpayers gave to charity in 2011,” the newspaper adds.

Compounding the problem is that those who do give are also giving less, the Whig continues. Donations represented 0.55 per cent of income in 2021, down from 0.58 per cent in 2001.

“The data shows Canadians are consistently less charitable every year, which means charities face greater challenges to secure resources to help those in need,” states the Fraser Institute’s Jake Fuss in the article.

The folks at Canada Helps an organization that assists charities with fundraising and has helped raise a whopping “$2 billion in giving” since its inception 23 years ago, see the decline in giving as a serious societal problem.

In their 2023 Giving Report, the organization notes that “the rising cost of living and prolonged impacts from the pandemic have more Canadians in need of charitable services. At the same time, fewer Canadians are making charitable donations.”

Canada Helps notes that while two in 10 Canadians “expect to use or are already using charitable services within the next six months,” the percentage of Canadians that give “is down five per cent in the last 10 years.”

The report notes that:

  • 40.3 per cent of charities “have experienced a lasting increase in demand” since the pandemic began
  • 55.2 per cent of charities have fewer volunteers
  • 57.3 per cent of them can’t meet current levels of demand
  • 41.8 per cent are worried about attracting more volunteers

What sorts of things are charities doing? A recent MoneySense article looked at what they called the “top 100” charities in Canada, and the impressive work they do.

According to the article, charities help distribute food via food banks and community kitchens, help deliver education programs, support people struggling to break addictions, provide rural communities with safe water supplies, help lower income folks receive specialized healthcare, and so on.

We all realize things are tougher than they have been. If you are in a position to support a charitable cause or two, consider doing so at an increased level this year. And if you don’t have cash to spare, perhaps you can consider volunteering, as so many organizations are in desperate need of such help.

Did you know that the Saskatchewan Pension Plan’s Variable Benefit option is open to all Canadian SPP members? This flexible retirement income option puts you in control of how much you want to withdraw from your SPP account, and when.

Check out SPP today!

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Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

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