BMO Harris Private Banking has released the findings of its Second Annual Philanthropy Report, which found that the number of Canadians giving to charitable causes – and the amount they are giving – is rising.

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The report revealed that almost 79% of Canadians made a charitable donation over the last 12 months, up from 68% last year. The amount they are giving has also increased, from an average of $487 in 2011 to $557 this year.

Ontario led the country with both the highest percentage of individuals (85%) who donated in 2012 and with the highest average amount ($778) given as well. The prairies were the second highest region in the country with 84% donating and an average amount of $751, followed by residents in Atlantic Canada at 78% with an average of $616.

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According to the report, the most popular causes Canadians supported include:

  • Health and medical (60%)
  • Anti-poverty (45%)
  • Animal welfare (30%)
  • Education (19%)

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Studies have shown that supporting charitable causes can increase one’s overall happiness; it also allows people to take advantage of valuable tax benefits, notes Marvi Ricker, Vice President & Managing Director of Philanthropic Services, BMO Harris Private Banking.

The report also found that only 18% of Canadians have a specific strategy for giving; meanwhile, 45% donate on an ad hoc basis. Furthermore, just half involve their spouse or partner in their giving decisions and only 15% involve their children.

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“In order for your donations to have the maximum impact, consider working with a financial professional to develop a giving strategy that becomes part of your overall financial plan,” added Ricker.

Recent federal budgets have fully eliminated the capital gains tax on donations of publicly traded securities to a registered charity. These include shares, bonds and mutual funds.

Donating securities is more advantageous than selling them and donating the cash proceeds; the capital gain on the donated securities is tax-free.

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