In the days leading up to Christmas this year, Anna-Kay Green will be traveling the streets of downtown Ottawa distributing packages to the homeless.
Green, who is in her senior year at York University, puts money aside year-round so she can buy hats, gloves, blankets, and other necessities to make kits that she can distribute to those who, by necessity, have a majority of their own Spending the day in the cold outside.
“Ottawa winters are cold,” said Green, who has a double degree in business and philosophy. “I want someone to do this for me.”
She picked up the idea during her school days and it has become an annual tradition.
“I wanted to do it,” she said. “It’s easy to set up and I don’t deprive myself of the things I need. You never know when you could be in this position yourself. “
Most Canadians aren’t as enterprising as Green, but many moved over the holiday season to help those in need.
“The end of the year is the busiest time of year for charities,” said Jacob O’Connor, senior vice president of CanadaHelps, a nonprofit that fundraises for charities nationwide. “Thirty percent of donations in Canada are made from Giving Tuesday through December. Both the holidays and the tax breaks are motivators. This is an important time of year for all charities as they are so dependent on revenue this month. “
This year, says O’Connor, fundraising over the holidays is more important than ever.
“Like many of us, the non-profit sector has been hit hard by the pandemic. Personal fundraisers went straight out the window, which means a huge loss of sales, but the demand has increased enormously. “
An August 2021 sector monitoring report from Imagine Canada, an organization that supports the work of the nonprofit sector, reported that more than 40 percent of Canadian charities are still facing declines in sales. O’Connor says CanadaHelps is forecasting a 10 percent decrease in donations in the charitable sector, which will bring donations to 2016 levels.
To help nonprofits overcome this deficit, there are many ways to donate. O’Connor is a strong believer in the decision to donate to a charity of his choice on a monthly basis as it provides a charity with a guaranteed level of income that will help them budget throughout the year.
Many people also give charitable gifts in honor of or in memory of important people in their lives; some find they are the perfect way to celebrate a friend or relative who has all of the material goods he needs.
Another option is to donate stocks and mutual funds to a charity of your choice. When people donate them directly to a charity instead of redeeming them and donating the money, capital gains tax is abolished, making it a tax efficient way to be generous.
Many organizations have created engaging, clever ways to attract vacation donations. For example, the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy allows the donor to adopt an animal that comes with a personalized certificate of adoption. Plan International Canada offers Gifts of Hope, items to help people in developing countries – everything from a mosquito net for malaria prevention to a school lunch to a goat for a family. CanadaHelps offers people the option to purchase gift cards that recipients can then donate to their own preferred charities.
Sandra Sualim, chief executive officer and board member of the Toronto Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, says with the Humber River Hospital Foundation that gratitude gifts are popular because they enable people to donate in honor of a hospital worker who has looked after them well has looked after. While the foundation is accepting the donation, the employee receives a special pin that they can wear as pride on the ID tag.
“It’s a great way to honor healthcare workers,” said Sualim.
When asked how to choose a charity worth donating personally, Sualim suggested that the giver’s passion for the charity and its impact should be paramount. She and O’Connor both found that measuring the percentage of a donor’s money that goes directly to the people serving can be misleading, since companies also need to spend money on things like upgrading their technology in order to be more efficient , or offer training for their employees.
“During the pandemic, many charities that had not invested in themselves through technology were unable to move online,” noted O’Connor.
Sualim says there are many ways to see how effective and useful a charity is. They all have annual reports with financial statements and lots of reports on the impact of problems. Donors can follow them on social media and even email the charity with additional questions. If they are a registered charity (i.e. the Canada Revenue Agency) they are audited every three to five years.
Sualim also suggests checking that a charity subscribes to the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Code of Ethics.
“From an industry perspective, this requires the charity to put its philanthropic mission above its own interests,” she said.
Audits or codes of ethics are not issues that Green needs to be concerned about when putting together her packages for the homeless population of Ottawa.
“I learned how to be charitable from my mother,” she said. “She had a policy that she was always ready to help people, and I’ve never seen her say no to anyone.
“There’s something in the air in December that really drives the charity forward as well. I don’t do it for myself (giving to others), but seeing that others are grateful and grateful makes me feel good about what I do. “
Facts and figures
- Canada has approximately 86,000 charities.
- From January 1 to November 30, Canadians donated more than $ 281 million through CanadaHelps. Ontario donated more than $ 152 million to charities through CanadaHelps. That’s 54 percent of total Ontario donation income.
- Ontarians using CanadaHelps donated an average of $ 387 this year. Overall, Canadians who donated through CanadaHelps donated an average of $ 377. Ontario residents donated about 2.6 percent more per capita to CanadaHelps than the national average.
- Although 32 percent of Canadians have more disposable income amid the pandemic, only 17 percent of them have donated any of the excess funds to charity.
- During the pandemic, 18 percent of Canadians reduced their donation amount to charities.
Sources: CanadaHelps, Ipsos
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