Strain on charities as demand rises and giving declines

Strain on charities as demand rises and giving declines
One in four Canadians are already or will soon be using charitable services to meet basic needs in 2022

CanadaHelps, the country's largest platform for donating and fundraising online, has released the fifth edition of its annual report on the charitable sector and the state of giving. The Giving Report 2022 highlights new insights on generational giving trends, the impact of pandemic uncertainties on giving, and the unprecedented strain on charities. Among the most significant findings in The Giving Report 2022 is the projected decline in donations and the growing need for charitable services. The complete report is available online here.

“This year's edition of The Giving Report reveals alarming trends in giving participation rates, the ability for Canadians to give, and the rising demand for charitable services,” said Marina Glogovac, President and CEO of CanadaHelps. “While the report underscores that the need is urgent and all Canadians who are in the position to do so must give what they can this year, there is room for optimism. The vast majority of Canadians understand the critical role charities have in keeping Canada strong, and while there are differences between generations in how we give and the causes that matter to us, younger Canadians want to give and intend to give when they are able.”

Key Findings from The Giving Report 2022

  1. CanadaHelps projects a decline of -12% in total giving from 2019 to 2021 due to pandemic impacts and inflationary concerns.
    Four out of five Canadians expect inflation and/or the prolonged impacts of the pandemic will negatively impact their financial situation. As a result, one in four Canadians (26%) expect to use or are already using charitable services in 2022 to meet their basic needs, rising from 11% currently. At the same time, one in four Canadians (25%) expect to give less in 2022 than they did in 2021, challenging the capacity of charities to meet growing demand.
  2. The giving gap is widening.
    While those aged 55+ increased their charitable donations by an average of 3.9% each year from 2006 to 2019, Generation X (40 - 54 years old), Millennials (26 – 39 years old), and Generation Z (18 – 25 years old) decreased the amount they give each year by an average of -3.1%, -1.6%, and -2.1% respectively during the same time period, creating a crucial gap in funding for charities. When older Canadians are no longer able to give and if younger generations do not increase their giving, charities will need to make up for this gap in funding, known as the giving gap.

    The percent of Canadians that give has also continued to decline, with 25% of 2006 tax filers claiming donations versus 19% in 2019. That’s a 6 point drop in under 15 years, with the most acute decline among Generation X (40 - 54 years old) and families in higher income brackets. The annual rate of decline in giving by higher income earners (i.e., above $150k) is more than double the rate for families with incomes between $20k and $99k (-3.0% to -3.3% versus -1.0% to -1.5%).
  3. Looking at younger Canadians, there is hope.
    When younger Canadians have the means, they donate. While some young Canadians don’t give financially today, many have the intention to give in the future. Looking at both younger Canadians that give today and those that do not, there are high levels of trust in charities. Younger Canadians are technology and tax savvy, expect digital engagement, and look for innovative ways to give such as donating online, giving cryptocurrency, or through other cost-effective approaches like donations of securities.
  4. Across generations, how we think about and support charities and causes is different.
    While fewer younger Canadians make financial donations, many donate and express their generosity in other ways. This can include volunteering, fundraising, attending protests, or spreading the word about a charity or cause. While mental health is a top five cause supported across all generations, other top causes supported by younger generations are climate change and racial justice. Older generations prioritize medical research and treatment, senior care, and poverty in Canada.

New donors that are younger, urban, and diverse all showed a propensity to give in response to urgent needs, especially when related to social justice causes. CanadaHelps has prioritized the need to engage and cultivate new donors by understanding, evolving, and enhancing its services to meet their preferences and expectations. As an example,, the new home of Cause Funds by CanadaHelps, is designed to spotlight the most pressing causes of our day and provide the highly educational content that younger Canadians expect.

“If you are unable to give financially, we encourage you to give with your time, or use your voice to bring visibility to the shortfalls threatening the basic needs of fellow Canadians,” says Glogovac. “And, if you are among the one in three Canadians who have accumulated more discretionary income during the pandemic, donate generously. How we all get through this time will shape the Canada of tomorrow.”

About The Giving Report 2022
The Giving Report 2022 was developed using proprietary research and vast volumes of CanadaHelps online giving data, which includes more than $465 million in donations from more than 968,000 Canadians in support of 31,700 charities across Canada in 2021 alone. The report is also produced in partnership with Environics Analytics, which provided analysis and insights into demographic, financial, psychographic, and behavioural trends in CanadaHelps data. Imagine Canada is also a Giving Report report partner – since 2018 the organization has provided deeper analysis and data verification of various data from Canada Revenue Agency.