Publications

    Caring Canadians, Involved Canadians: Highlights from the Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating

    Chapter 1
    Charitable giving

    [an error occurred while processing this directive]71-542-x[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Giving in 2007: What's new?
    The support that Canadians provide
    The concentration of support
    The organizations supported by Canadians
    A profile of Canadian donors
    Top donors
    The role of religion
    Religious vs. non-religious donations
    Giving among immigrants
    Provincial / territorial variations
    How Canadians make financial donations
    The reasons for making financial donations
    Motivations
    The role of tax credits
    Barriers
    What do prospective donors not like about requests?

    Many Canadians give money or goods to charitable or nonprofit organizations in the course of a year. Their donations help these organizations to provide numerous services and goods that are vital to the well-being of Canadians. At the same time, some Canadians are more prolific donors than others, and charitable and nonprofit organizations rely on these individuals for the majority of their donations.

    The 2007 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (CSGVP) collected information about donations of money or goods that Canadians made during the 12 months prior to the survey. This chapter provides key findings about charitable giving in 2007 and highlights changes in giving that have occurred since the 2004 survey.

    We begin by outlining the major changes in charitable giving since 2004. Next, we present findings about the extent to which Canadians give, the amounts they donate, and the types of organizations they support. This is followed by a discussion of the social and economic characteristics of donors and variations in giving across provinces and territories. Finally, we present information about the methods by which Canadians make donations, the motivations they cite for doing so and the barriers they report that keep them from giving more.

    Giving in 2007: What's new?

    In the three years since the 2004 CSGVP, there have been a number of important changes in charitable giving in Canada. These include:

    • A 12% increase in the total amount of donations, from $8.9 billion in 2004 to $10.0 billion in 2007.1 Some of this growth can be attributed to the fact that there were 2.9% more donors (approximately 650,000) as the population grew by 3.7% between 2004 and 2007 while the donor rate remained virtually unchanged (85% in 2004 vs. 84% in 2007).
    • A 9% increase in the average amount that donors gave (from $400 in 2004 to $437 in 2007).
    • A reduction in the number of donations made by each individual (from 4.3 in 2004 to 3.7 in 2007).
    • Significant shifts in giving among specific demographic groups including:
      • A 17% increase in the average donations made by those who are religiously active (from $887 in 2004 to $1038 in 2007).
      • A 20% increase in the average donations of those aged 35 to 44 (from $370 to $443).
      • A 13% increase in average donations among females (from $374 to $422).
      • A 7 percentage point increase in the donor rate among those who have only school aged children living in the household (from 84% in 2004 to 91%) and a 56% increase in their average donation (from $335 in 2004 to $522 in 2007).
    • Provincial and territorial variations in giving including:
      • Increases in the donation rate for Alberta (from 79% to 85%).
      • Decreases in the donation rate for the Northwest Territories (from 79% to 68%), Ontario (90% to 86%) and Nova Scotia (90% to 87%).
      • Increases in the average amount donated in Quebec (from $176 to $219, or 24%).

    The support that Canadians provide

    Almost 23 million Canadians – 84% of the population aged 15 and older – reported making financial donations to charitable or nonprofit organizations during the year prior to being surveyed (Chart 1.1). A similar percentage (85%) made in-kind contributions, with 79% giving clothing, toys, or household goods and 60% giving food. Virtually everyone (94%) reported making either financial donations or in-kind contributions. Four percent reported making provisions for a donation through a bequest in their will or via another financial planning instrument. The rates at which Canadians made these contributions are virtually unchanged from 2004.

    Chart 1.1 Percentage of population donating to charitable and nonprofit organizations, by type of donation, population aged 15 and older, Canada, 2004 and 2007

    Canadians reported almost $10 billion in financial donations in 2007, an increase of 12% or $1.1 billion since 2004 (Table 1.1). This increase is the result of two factors: larger donations and growth in the Canadian population. In 2007, the average annual total donation was $437, a 9% increase from $400 in 2004. Additionally, the population of Canadians 15 years and older has grown by 3.7% since 2004. While the donation rate is virtually unchanged from 2004, there were approximately 650,000 more donors in 2007 than there were in 2004. While the average donation increased from 2004 to 2007, the median annual donation of $120 was unchanged. The median provides a better indication of the size of the typical donation and shows that half of all donors contributed less than $120 while half gave more.

    Table 1.1 Donors and donations, population aged 15 and older, Canada, 2004 and 2007

    Donors appear to be concentrating their donations on a smaller number of charities. The average number of individual donations that donors made decreased to 3.8 in 2007 from 4.3 in 2004. However, the average amount given with each individual donation increased from $94 to $114 over the same period.

    The concentration of support

    Most Canadians donate money to charitable and nonprofit organizations, but the bulk of charitable dollars comes from a small segment of the population. Chart 1.2 groups donors into four categories based on the amount they donated annually and shows the percentage of total donations provided by each group. The 50% of donors who provided $120 or less accounted for only 5% of the total value of all donations. In contrast, the 10% who donated $1,002 or more accounted for 62% of the total value. The degree of concentration in support is essentially the same as that reported in 2004.

    Chart 1.2 Distribution of donors and percentage of total annual donations, donors aged 15 and older, Canada, 2007

    The organizations supported by Canadians

    Canadians support a wide range of charitable and nonprofit organizations, but they focus that support preferentially on a few causes.2 As Chart 1.3 shows, religious organizations were the biggest beneficiaries of charitable giving, receiving 46% of the total dollar value of donations.3 Health organizations followed, with 15% of the total value of donations. Nine percent of all donor dollars went to social services organizations, while international organizations and hospitals each received 6% of the total value of donations. These figures are essentially unchanged since 2004.

    Chart 1.3 Percentage of total donation value, by selected organization type, population aged 15 and older, Canada, 2007

    Religious organizations do not receive as many donations as some other types of organizations, but they receive the largest amounts (Charts 1.4 and 1.5). In 2007, just over a third of Canadians (36%) made donations to religious organizations, with the average donation amounting to $469. In contrast, many more Canadians (56%) made donations to health organizations, but their average donation was $99. Additionally, 39% donated to social services organizations and their average donation was $87.

    The general pattern of support for charities and nonprofit organizations changed little between 2004 and 2007. The most notable differences were a six percentage point decline in the donor rate for education and research organizations and a four percentage point decline in the donor rate for sports and recreation organizations.

    Chart 1.4 Donor rate, by selected organization type, population aged 15 and older, Canada, 2004 and 2007

    There were, however, changes in the amounts given to many types of organization (Chart 1.5).4 Notably, the average amount donated to hospitals increased by 35%, while average donations to international organizations and sports and recreation organizations both rose by 29%. Donations to religious organizations also increased (19%). On the other hand, average donations to environmental organizations decreased by 18%.

    Chart 1.5 Mean annual donations, by selected organization type, donors aged 15 and older, Canada, 2004 and 2007

    A profile of Canadian donors

    Although most Canadians make financial donations to charitable and nonprofit organizations, some give much more than others. These Canadians share a variety of personal and economic characteristics. This section shows how giving varies according to key variables such as age, household income, education level, employment status, sex, marital status, and the presence of children in the household. While these characteristics are discussed independently of one another, it should be recognized that they are often related (e.g., income varies according to education level, age and sex).

    Generally, the likelihood of giving tends to increase with age, with the donation rate rising from a low of 71% for 15 to 24 year olds to highs of 89% for those 45 to 54 and 88% for those 55 and over (Table 1.2). A similar pattern exists for average donations, which were lowest among 15 to 24 year olds ($142) and peaked at $611 for those over 65. This pattern of giving is similar to that found in 2004, but the average amounts given in 2007 were generally higher. Interestingly, there was little change in median donations, which indicates that increases in giving in 2007 were not broadly based; but rather reflect the influence of a relatively small number of individuals giving larger gifts.

    Table 1.2 Donor rate and amount of donations, by personal and economic characteristics, population aged 15 and older, Canada, 2004 and 2007

    Giving also increases with income. The donation rate rose from a low of 71% among those with household incomes less than $20,000 per year (who gave an average of $210) to a high of 90% among those with more than $100,000 in household income (who gave an average of $686). Compared to 2004, the biggest growth in average donations occurred among those with household incomes of $60,000-$79,999 which increased by 32% (from $334 in 2004 to $441 in 2007). On the other hand, there was a modest decline in average donations among those with household incomes of $100,000 or more (from $698 in 2004 to $686 in 2007).

    Greater giving is also associated with higher levels of education. For example, 72% of those with less than a high school degree made a donation, giving an average gift of $215. In contrast, 91% of those with a university degree donated, with the average amount being $711. The relationship between donating and education shows the same broad pattern in 2007 as was the case in 2004, although the average amounts given have increased. Those with some postsecondary education showed the biggest increase in donations (average donations increased from $316 to $387).

    In terms of labour force status, 87% of those who were employed donated, compared to 81% of those who were unemployed and 77% of those who were not in the labour force. Donors who were employed contributed an average of $454, compared to $367 for those who were not in the labour force and $323 for those who were unemployed. (The three labour force categories are: employed [those who are working], unemployed [those not working but looking for work], and not in the labour force [those neither working nor looking for work]. It is worth noting that many individuals not in the labour force are seniors, who, as we noted previously, tend to make larger donations.) The pattern of support in 2007 was similar to that in 2004, but donors from all labour force groups contributed larger amounts. The average amounts from unemployed donors increased the most (from $204 to $323), while the median donation decreased. Increases among employed donors and those who were not in the labour force were far more modest.

    As was the case in 2004, women are more likely than men to make donations (87% donated vs. 82% of men). On the other hand, men still make larger average gifts ($453 vs. $422 for women).

    Married individuals or those in common-law relationships are more likely than others to donate (89% gave), but those who are widowed donated the most, with an average donation of $585. In comparison, only 75% of those who are single and have never been married donated and they gave an average of $227. Compared to 2004, there was little change in donation rates while the average amounts given generally increased.

    Those with exclusively pre-school-aged children in the household are more likely to donate than those without children or with only school-aged children. Almost nine in ten (88%) Canadians with only pre-school-aged children in the household made donations, compared to 85% of those who had no children in the household and smaller percentages of those with both pre-school and school-aged children (82%) or with only school-aged children (83%). Those who had no children in the household reported the largest average donations ($457) while those with only school-aged children in the house reported the smallest ($400). Compared to 2004, there was little difference in the donation rate pattern, with the exception being a decrease among those with both pre-school and school-aged children (from 88% in 2004 to 82% in 2007). Those who had exclusively pre-school-aged children reported larger average donations ($408 in 2007 vs. $286 in 2004) as did those who had only school-aged children in the household ($400 vs. $335).

    Donations as a percentage of household income

    Although those with higher income tend to make larger donations than others in absolute terms, they usually donate a lower percentage of their total before tax household income when they do contribute. As Chart 1.6 shows, donors with annual household incomes less than $20,000 donated an average of 1.6% of their pre-tax income, while those with household incomes of $100,000 or more contributed just 0.5%. This pattern is similar to that observed in 2004.

    Chart 1.6 Percentage of household income spent on donations, by level of household income, donors aged 15 and older, Canada, 2004 and 2007

    Top donors

    Canada's top donors –the 25% who donated at least $364 and accounted for 82% of all donated dollars – are an essential source of revenue for many charitable and nonprofit organizations. These donors tend to be older, to have higher household incomes, and to have more formal education (Table 1.3). They also are more likely to be employed, widowed, and to attend religious services on a weekly basis. As noted earlier, many of these characteristics are interrelated.

    Table 1.3 Percentage of population who are top donors1, and percentage of donation value contributed, by personal and economic characteristics, population aged 15 and older, Canada, 2007

    The likelihood of being a top donor increases with age. For example, 31% of those who are over 65 were in the top donor category, compared to only 6% of 15 to 24 year olds. The 65 and older top donor group made up only 5% of the total population but contributed 20% of the total value of all donations.

    Higher levels of education are also associated with membership in the top donor category. Over a third (36%) of Canadians who have university degrees were top donors, compared to less than 20% of those who did not have a post-secondary diploma. This group made up only 7% of the population, but contributed 30% of the total value of all donations.

    Similarly, the probability of being a top donor increases with the amount of household income. One third (33%) of the population with household incomes of $100,000 or more were top donors, compared to less than 20% of those with incomes under $60,000. While top donors in the highest income bracket made up only 8% of the population, they accounted for 34% of the total value of donations.

    Individuals who are widowed are more likely to be top donors than those who are not, which may be due to the fact that these individuals also tend to be older. Thirty percent of widows and widowers were top donors, compared to only 11% of those who were single and had never been married.
    Finally, weekly attendance at religious services or meetings is a strong indicator of potential membership in the top donor category. Weekly attendees have a higher probability of being top donors (49% of weekly attendees are top donors compared to only 15% those who do not attend weekly). These top donors are highly important contributors. Although they only make up 8% of the population, they contribute 39% of all donations.

    The connections between early life experience and donating

    The extent to which people were involved in community activities as youth, or were exposed to role models who volunteered or helped others, is positively related to their charitable giving behaviour as adults. For example, those who reported being active in religious organizations or student government, belonging to a youth group, volunteering, or having parents who volunteered were more likely than others to report making charitable donations (Chart 1.7).5 Individuals with such early life experiences also tend to make much larger charitable donations as adults (Chart 1.8). For example, donors who were active in a religious organization during their youth reported average annual donations that were over twice as large as those who were not ($665 vs. $305). Similarly, donors who belonged to a youth group made average donations that were 76% larger than those who had not belonged ($543 vs. $308). There are two exceptions to this broad pattern. Those who participated in an organized team sport in their youth gave only 12% more than those who did not ($458 vs. $410), while those who raised money for a cause or organization in their youth reported that they gave virtually the same amount as those who did not ($439 vs. $438).

    Chart 1.7 Donor rate by youth experience status, population aged 15 and older, Canada, 2007

    Chart 1.8 Average donation by youth experience status, donors aged 15 and older, Canada, 2007

    The role of religion

    Canadians who are religiously active are more likely than other Canadians to be donors and tend to give more when they donate. Much of the money that they donate goes to religious organizations; but, they also contribute significant amounts to non-religious organizations.

    The CSGVP asked respondents how frequently they attended religious services or meetings, other than for special occasions like weddings, funerals, or baptisms. Just less than one in five Canadians (17%) reported that they attended religious services on at least a weekly basis. These weekly attendees are more likely than other Canadians to donate (Chart 1.9) and make larger annual donations (Chart 1.10). In 2007, 94% of weekly attendees donated, compared to 82% of those who either attended religious services less frequently or did not attend at all. They also gave an average of $1,038 annually, compared to $295 for those who did not attend religious services or meetings on a weekly basis. Compared to 2004, there has been little change in the percentage of weekly attendees who make donations. However, the average annual amounts donated increased noticeably, from $887 in 2004 to $1,038 in 2007. In comparison, the average amounts donated by those who do not attend religious services weekly increased only slightly, from $284 in 2004 to $295 in 2007.

    Chart 1.9 Donor rate by weekly attendance at religious services, population aged 15 and older, Canada, 2004 and 2007

    Chart 1.10 Average annual donations by weekly attendance at religious services, donors aged 15 and older, Canada, 2004 and 2007

    Religious vs. non-religious donations

    Giving to religious organizations stands out from other giving in a number of ways. First, religious organizations received by far the largest percentage of the total value of the donations Canadians made in 2007 (46%). Second, the patterns of donations to religious organizations differ from those of non-religious organizations. Lastly, donors to religious organizations differ from other donors in terms of their personal and economic characteristics.

    As Chart 1.11 shows, a much larger proportion of the total value of donations to religious organizations comes from top donors (the 25% of donors who contributed $364 or more annually). Over nine-tenths (91%) of the total value of religious donations came from top donors, with the top 10% of donors contributing 75% of religious donation value. In comparison, top donors contributed 74% of the total value of non-religious donations and the top 10% of donors contributed 49% of the value of these donations.

    Chart 1.11 Distribution of donations to religious and non-religious organizations, by annual amount donated, donors aged 15 and older, Canada, 2007

    Turning to differences in the personal and economic characteristics of their donors, religious organizations receive more support than non-religious organizations from those who are older, married, female, not in the labour force and from households with annual incomes less than $100,000 (Table 1.4). For example, religious organizations received a larger percentage of donations from those who were 65 years of age or older (25% vs. 19% for non-religious organizations) and those who were not in the labour force (28% vs. 23%). Similarly, 70% of the value of all donations to religious organizations came from those with household incomes less than $100,000 compared to 53% of total donations for non-religious organizations. Interestingly, women contributed 55% of their donations to religious organizations, while men contributed 55% to non-religious organizations.

    Table 1.4 Donations to non-religious and religious organizations, by personal and economic characteristics, population aged 15 and older, Canada, 2007

    Conversely, a number of groups of Canadians tended to devote more of their support to non-religious organizations. For example, those with annual household incomes of $100,000 or more accounted for almost half (47%) of the total value of donations to non-religious organizations. Put another way, these donors contributed almost two thirds (63%) of the total value of their donations to non-religious organizations. Similarly, those with university degrees (who accounted for 41% of the total value of donations to non-religious organizations) contributed 57% of the total value of their donations to non-religious organizations. Other groups contributing a greater proportion of their total donations to non-religious organizations included: those who were single and had never married (60%), were separated or divorced (58%), or were men (57%).

    Finally, religious organizations received a large proportion of the total value of their donations from those who attend religious services on a weekly basis (74% vs. 26% from non-weekly attendees). In comparison non-religious organizations received quite a modest proportion of their donation from weekly attendees (20%), with the balance (80%) coming from non-weekly attendees.

    Giving among immigrants

    The 2007 CSGVP shows that immigrants were slightly less likely to give to charities and nonprofits than those who were Canadian-born (82% vs. 85%), but that they gave noticeably larger amounts when they contributed ($505 vs. $423).6 Collectively, immigrants donated almost 20% of the total value of all donations.

    The likelihood of giving increases with the length of time immigrants have resided in Canada. Similarly, those who have been here for longer periods of time tend to give larger amounts. Chart 1.12 groups immigrants into four equally sized groups, depending on when they arrived in Canada.7 The likelihood of donating was lowest among those who came to Canada in 1999 or later (72%) and highest among those who arrived before 1971 (89%). Similarly, those who came to Canada in 1999 or later made the smallest average donations, while those who arrived between 1971 and 1988 made the largest ($647). The average donations of donors who arrived in Canada before 1999 are higher than the average donations of those born in Canada.

    Chart 1.12 Donor rate and average annual donations, by year of immigration, population aged 15 and older, Canada, 2007

    It is important to understand that personal and economic characteristics possessed by respondents other than their immigrant status are likely to play a role in their donating behaviours. For instance, the average age of immigrants who arrived before 1971 was 65 years. This group showed levels of donation that were very similar to those of older Canadians.

    Native-born Canadians and immigrants generally support the same types of organizations (Chart 1.13). Both groups were most likely to donate to health, religious and social services organizations. However, immigrants donate to some types of organizations at a lower rate than those who are Canadian-born. For example, 59% of those born in Canada donated to health organizations, compared to 46% of immigrants. Similar though less pronounced patterns were seen with most types of organizations, such as social services organizations (39% vs. 37%) and hospitals (18% vs. 16%). However, immigrants were more likely to donate to religious organizations (45% vs. 34%) than were those born in Canada.

    Chart 1.13 Donor rate, by selected organization type, immigrants and non-immigrants aged 15 and over, Canada, 2007

    Immigrants also allocated a larger percentage of the total value of their donations to religious organizations than did Canadian-born individuals (57% vs. 43%) (Chart 1.14). However, immigrants allocated less of their donations than Canadian-born donors to most other types of organizations, such as health (10% vs. 16%) and social services (7% vs. 9%).

    Chart 1.14 Percentage of total donation value allocated to selected organization types, immigrant and non-immigrant donors aged 15 and over, Canada, 2007

    Provincial / territorial variations

    Giving to charitable and nonprofit organizations varies by province and territory (Chart 1.15). The donor rate was highest in Newfoundland and Labrador (91%), followed by Prince Edward Island (89%) and New Brunswick (88%), while it was lowest in Nunavut (66%). Donation rates were higher than the national average in each of the Atlantic Provinces as well as in Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta. Compared to 2004, the likelihood of donating tended to increase in the western provinces and decrease in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. The largest increase was in Alberta (79% to 85%), while the largest decrease was in the Northwest Territories (79% to 68%).

    Chart 1.15 Donation rate, by province and territory, population aged 15 and older, Canada, 2004 and 2007

    The average amount donated showed a somewhat different pattern, with average donations highest in Western Canada (Chart 1.16). Albertans made the largest average annual donations ($596), followed by donors from the Northwest Territories ($550), the Yukon ($530) and Manitoba ($520). While the Atlantic Provinces had high rates of donation, average donations were less than the national average. This pattern of donation was very similar to that seen in 2004.

    Chart 1.16 Average annual donations, by province and territory, donors aged 15 and older, Canada, 2004 and 2007

    How Canadians make financial donations

    The most common ways in which Canadians made donations in 2007 were through the mail (16% of donations were made this way), in response to someone canvassing at a shopping centre or on the street (12%), canvassing door-to-door (12%), through a collection at a place of worship, such as a church, synagogue, or mosque (11%), or by sponsoring someone in an event such as a walk-a-thon (11%) (Chart 1.17).8 About a tenth of donations were made by paying to attend a charity event (9%), donating in the name of someone who had passed away (9%), or donating when asked by someone at work (9%). Comparatively few donations were made by donors approaching organizations on their own initiative (4%), or in response to telephone requests (2%) or television or radio requests and telethons (2%).

    Chart 1.17 Percentage of total number of donations and total donation value by selected solicitation method, donors aged 15 and older, Canada, 2007

    The most common methods of donating do not, however, produce the most dollars for charitable and nonprofit organizations. As shown in Chart 1.17, the 11% of donations that were made through places of worship accounted for 42% of all donated dollars. Similarly, the 4% of donations that donors made by approaching organizations on their own initiative accounted for 8% of the value of donations. In contrast, some of the more common methods of donating accounted for relatively small amounts of donations. For example, 12% of all donations were made in response to canvassing in a shopping centre or on the street, but these accounted for just 1% of the total value of donations. In the same way, the 12% of donations made via door-to-door canvassing accounted for just 2% of the total value of donations.

    There was little change in the methods used for donations between 2004 and 2007. Door-to-door canvassing accounted for a smaller percentage of the number of donations (from 14% in 2004 to 12% in 2007). The percentage of donations made via paying to attend a charity event increased from 7% to 9%.

    The CSGVP also asked Canadians what methods of payment they used to make their donations. The vast majority of donations were made using cash or by cheque (88%). Seven percent of donations were made via credit card, 2% through payroll deductions and 1% through authorized account deductions. In terms of the amounts donated via each method, cash and cheques accounted for 80% of the total value of donations, credit cards 8%, and payroll deductions 3%. Although authorized account deductions made up a very small percentage of the number of donations, they accounted for 5% of the total value.

    Donors who paid via credit card, debit card or authorized account deductions were asked whether they donated via the Internet. Over a quarter (27%) of these donors did so. However, Internet donations were generally smaller ($119 on average, vs. $216 for non-Internet donations).

    Encouraging Canadians to give: planning ahead vs. giving spontaneously

    The 2007 CSGVP shows that while most Canadians give in response to being asked, those who plan their giving in advance tend to give more (Chart 1.18). The results also highlight the importance of lasting relationships between donors and the charitable and nonprofit organizations they support because those who donate repeatedly to the same organizations also tend to give more.

    Although a minority of donors plan the amounts they will give in advance, those who do so tend to give larger amounts. In 2007, 19% of donors reported that they decided in advance how much they intended to give to charitable organizations over the course of a year. These donors contributed an average of $797 annually, compared to $351 for those who did not decide how much to give in advance. Donors who decided in advance how much to give accounted for 35% of the total value of donations, significantly more than 19% of donors represented by this group.

    The CSGVP also asked donors, for their larger donations, whether they decide in advance which organizations they will support. Again, donors who make these decisions in advance contribute more than those who do not. As shown in Chart 1.18, about a third of donors (32%) decided in advance which organizations they would support. On average, this third of donors made annual donations of $730 each and collectively they contributed over half (52%) of the total value of donations. In contrast, the 56% who donated in response to being asked contributed an average of $240 annually and accounted for 30% of the total value of donations. The remaining 12% of donors who both planned their donations and made donations in response to being asked contributed an average of $646 annually and accounted for 18% of the total value of donations.

    Donors who regularly donate to the same organizations also tend to give more. Approximately one third of donors (34%) said they always donate to the same charitable and nonprofit organizations. On average, they contributed $521 annually and collectively accounted for 40% of the total value of donations. A somewhat larger group (40% of donors) pursued a mixed strategy, both donating repeatedly to the same organizations and varying the organizations they supported. These donors contributed an average of $518 annually and accounted for 47% of the total value of donations. In contrast, the quarter of donors (26%) who pursued a strategy of varying the organizations they supported contributed just $224, on average, and accounted for only 13% of the total value of donations.

    Chart 1.18 Percentage of donors and percentage of total donation value, by ways in which donors decide to give larger donations and pattern of giving for all donations, donors aged 15 and older, Canada, 2007

    The reasons for making financial donations

    The CSGVP asked a number of questions that explored donors' reasons for donating as well as the factors that kept them from donating more.

    Motivations

    Donors were asked whether each of six possible motivations for giving to charitable and nonprofit organizations were important to their donation decisions over the previous 12 months (Chart 1.19). The reasons most frequently identified as being important were: feeling compassion towards people in need (90%), wanting to help a cause in which they personally believed (86%), wanting to make a contribution to the community (80%), and having been personally affected or knowing someone personally affected by the cause the organization support (62%). Somewhat fewer donors donated to fulfill religious obligations or beliefs (32%), or because government would give them a credit on their income tax (23%).

    Chart 1.19 Reasons for making financial donations, donors aged 15 and older, Canada, 2004 and 2007

    Compared to 2004, there has been little change in the reasons donors identified for their charitable giving. The only exception was a modest increase in the percentage of donors agreeing that tax credits were an important factor (increased from 20% in 2004 to 23% in 2007).

    The role of tax credits

    Canadians who donate to registered charitable organizations are eligible to receive income tax credits in return for their donations. Almost half (46%) of donors said that they or someone in their household would be claiming an income tax credit for the donations made over the previous 12 months. As shown in Chart 1.20, the likelihood of intending to claim such a tax credit increases with the amount given. Just over four fifths (83%) of the donors who gave $1,002 or more (the top 10% of donors) said that they or someone in their household would claim tax credits, compared to just 25% of donors who donated $120 or less (the bottom 50% of donors).

    Chart 1.20 Percentage of donors who planned to claim a tax credit and percentage who would contribute more if given a better tax credit, by amount of annual donations, donors aged 15 and older, 2007

    Many Canadians claim tax credits and those who give the largest amounts are most likely to do so, however, the prospect of better tax credits as a motivator does not appear to increase with the amount given. A majority of donors (54%) said that they would make larger donations if the government gave them a better tax credit for their donations. However, after a key threshold of giving was reached ($121 or more), the percentage of donors saying that they would donate more in return for a better tax credit remained largely unchanged (e.g., 57% of those who gave between $121 and $363 and 54% of those who gave $1,002 or more).

    Barriers

    Donors were presented with nine possible barriers to giving and were asked whether they were reasons that they did not give more (Chart 1.21). Donors were most likely to report that they did not give more because they could not afford to do so (71%), or because they were happy with the amounts that they had already contributed (65%). Forty percent indicated that the reason they did not give more was because they believed that they already gave enough directly to people, without involving an organization. About a third agreed that they did not give more because they did not think that the money would be used efficiently (33%), or because they gave voluntary time instead of money (32%). A comparatively small percentage (11%) identified difficulty finding a worthy cause as a barrier to increased giving.

    Chart 1.21 Reasons for not making more financial donations, donors aged 15 and older, Canada, 2004 and 2007

    A number of barriers to increased giving are related to the ways in which charitable and nonprofit organizations make their requests for donations. About a third of donors (34%) indicated that they did not give more because they did not like the ways in which requests for donations were made. About a quarter (24%) indicated that no one asked them to give more and 12% did not know where to make a contribution. Compared to 2004, there have been few changes in the barriers that donors identify that keep them from giving more.

    What do prospective donors not like about requests?

    Donors who reported that they did not give more because they did not like how requests for donations were made (34% of donors) were asked to indicate what it was about the requests that they did not like. The most frequent issue identified was the tone of the requests (reported by 43% of those who indicated that they did not like how requests were made) (Chart 1.22). About a quarter (24%) indicated that they did not like the frequency or volume of requests from organizations and 15% did not like receiving multiple requests from the same organizations. Just under half of donors (44%) said that they disliked some other aspect of the request.

    Chart 1.22 Selected factors disliked about requests, donors aged 15 and older who did not like the way in which requests for donations were made, Canada, 2004 and 2007

    There has been no change between 2004 and 2007 in the percentage of donors who did not like how requests for donations were made.  However, there has been an encouraging decline in the number of Canadians who identified having issues with the frequency or volume of requests (from 30% to 24% in 2007), receiving multiple requests from an organization (from 19% to 15%) or the tone of requests (from 46% to 43%).


    Notes

    1. Dollar figures in this report do not adjust for the effects of inflation between 2004 and 2007.
    2. Donors were asked to indicate the names of the organizations to which they made donations and to state what the organizations did. Based on this information organizations were classified into 15 categories according to the types of activities performed. The classification system is described in Appendix 1, Glossary of terms. The CSGVP collects information only about the organization that is the direct recipient of the donation and does not track whether organizations transfer the donations they receive to other organizations.
    3. For the purpose of the CSGVP, religious organizations are defined as congregations or groups of congregations. Religious inspired organizations that operate in other areas such as international development and relief, social services or health are not classified as religious organizations.
    4. This chart illustrates the average annual donation of those who actually made donations to the given type of organization (i.e. the 14% of Canadians who donated to sports and recreation organizations each gave an average of $58 annually). They are not the average donations from all Canadians.
    5. Respondents were asked whether they had these experiences while in grade school or high school.
    6. Immigrants are defined as respondents who said that they were landed immigrants to Canada or had been at some point before becoming Canadian citizens.
    7. In other words, approximately one quarter of immigrants arrived in Canada before 1971, one quarter arrived between 1971 and 1988, another quarter arrived between 1989 and 1998, and the last quarter arrived since 1999.
    8. These figures are the percentage of the total number of donations (e.g. the 16% of the 87.8 million individual donations that donors made in 2007 were made in response to a mail request).
    Report a problem on this page

    Is something not working? Is there information outdated? Can't find what you're looking for?

    Please contact us and let us know how we can help you.

    Privacy notice

    Date modified: