Charitable giving falls

By Staff | December 16, 2013 | Last updated on December 16, 2013
2 min read

Fewer Canadians are donating to registered charities, and they are giving less, a study by the Fraser Institute shows.

The study measures donations to registered charities claimed on personal income tax returns in Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories, the 50 U.S. states, and Washington, D.C.

“There’s been a downward trend in the proportion of Canadians donating to registered charities and the share of income they donate. This decline in charitable giving limits the ability of Canada’s private charities to serve those in need,” says Charles Lammam, study co-author and resident scholar in economic policy at the Fraser Institute.

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The study finds that 25.1% of Canadian tax filers claimed a charitable donation in 2005. That number dropped each subsequent year, bottoming out at 22.5% in 2009 before rising slightly to 22.9% in 2011 (the most recent year of available data).

Furthermore, Canadians gave 0.81% of their combined income to registered charities in 2006. Except for a slight uptick in 2010, that percentage dropped every subsequent year to 0.64% in 2011.

“Had Canadians donated in 2011 at the same rate as 2006, Canada’s charities would have received an additional $2.3 billion in private donations in 2011, for a potential total of $11.1 billion,” Lammam says.

Among the provinces, Manitoba remains the most generous.

“Despite the overall decline in charitable giving, for 15 consecutive years Manitoba has led the provinces in the Fraser Institute’s analysis of private charitable giving,” Lammam explains.

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In 2011, Manitoba had the highest percentage of tax filers (25.9%) donating to charity while New Brunswick (20.7%) had the lowest. Manitobans also gave the most to charity at 0.89%of their combined income in 2011. Quebecers donated the least compared to other provinces at 0.30%, less than half the national average of 0.64%.

In terms of the average dollar value of donations, which does not factor into the overall index, Alberta ranks first with an average donation of $2,321 while Quebec ranks last with $655 as the average donation. The national average was $1,519.

The study also compares charitable giving in Canada to the U.S. As in previous years, Canadians lag behind their American counterparts. In 2011, 26.0% of American tax filers donated to charity compared to 22.9% of Canadians. Similarly, Americans gave a substantially higher percentage (1.33%) of their income to charity than Canadians (0.64%).

Comparing the overall Generosity Index scores across all 64 Canadian and U.S. jurisdictions, Utah tops the list. Manitoba, in 35th place, remains the highest-ranked Canadian jurisdiction while Alberta and Saskatchewan tied for 45th, Ontario and Prince Edward Island tied for 47th, followed by British Columbia (51st), Nova Scotia (54th), New Brunswick (57th), Newfoundland & Labrador (58th), Quebec (59th), Yukon (60th), Northwest Territories (63rd) and Nunavut (last of 64).

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