The Giving Report 2022: Executive Summary
The following is an excerpt of the executive summary from The Giving Report 2022 by Marina Glogovac, President and CEO, CanadaHelps. You can download the full report here.
Five years ago I introduced the first edition of The Giving Report, an annual report that provides Canadians, charities, and businesses with critical insights on the role of the charitable sector, its health, and emerging giving trends. Each year, the report engages more Canadians, and I am proud of the coverage received in media, large and small, that helps advance important conversations about the health of our country. However, as I introduce our fifth annual report, my concerns for the future of Canadian charities and the resulting strength of our communities is more heightened than ever.
Education and conversation is not enough. For that reason, this year’s report is a call to Canadians of all ages to protect our charitable sector through greater engagement and financial gifts. I have outlined four key findings, which together, are a clear explanation as to why this call to action is necessary, the challenges ahead, as well as the reasons for optimism.
The giving gap continues to widen.
Our last three reports have shed light on what we consider the most concerning trend: the giving gap, a term used to discuss the steady decline in the percentage of Canadians that donate to charities, the increased reliance on a smaller group of aging donors, and the funding shortfalls charities from coast to coast to coast will face when these donors can no longer give. Our updated analysis of tax filer data shows that the percentage of Canadians that give has continued its steady decline, with 19% of 2019 tax filers claiming donations versus 25% in 2006. That’s 6% less of the population in under 15 years, with the most acute decline amongst Generation X (35-54 years old) and families in higher income brackets. Participation rate declines span all age groups, and if it were not for the increase in amounts given by those Canadians aged 55 years and older who still give, charities would be experiencing even steeper declines in funding.
Across generations, how we think and support charities and causes is different.
Seeking insights to help address the giving gap, we conducted a proprietary research study this year to explore the differences in giving habits, engagement, motivations, and perceptions between generations; this study highlighted major variances in how generations give. While fewer younger Canadians make financial donations, many donate and express their generosity in more than one way, which 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.
Looking at younger Canadians, there is hope.
When younger Canadians have the means, they donate. While some young Canadians don’t give financially today, they 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. That said, charities need to understand this generation is savvy. They expect digital engagement and look for modern giving vehicles like cryptocurrency donations, and more cost-effective ways to give like donations of securities. The top causes for younger Canadians relate to social justice. To appeal to younger donors, charities need to be aware of these issues and many will need to shape new narratives to better resonate with these Canadians.
We project a decline of -12% in total giving from 2019 to 2021 as a result of pandemic impacts and inflationary concerns, further challenging the ability of charities to meet growing demand.
This concerning outlook is supported by the declining growth seen in online giving since March 2021. Moreover, our research also shows that 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 three Canadians (34%) expect to use or are already using charitable services in 2022, and one in four Canadians (25%) expect to give less in 2022 than they did in 2021. While we see hope that younger Canadians are engaged and will in time give, the need is urgent and all Canadians must step up.
Last year we projected total giving in 2020 fell by 10%. An additional decline of 2% may prove catastrophic for many charities. Our research also shows that 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 three Canadians (34%) expect to use, or are already using charitable services in 2022, and one in four Canadians (25%) expect to give less in 2022 than they did in 2021. The need is urgent and all Canadians must step up.
So where do we go from here?
A Canada without a strong charitable sector is one very different than many of us know. It is one where people experiencing homelessness lack access to a safe and healthy refuge; individuals with mental illness experience isolation, unemployment, and even death by suicide without the care they need; people suffer from medical conditions although research could provide a cure; where countless programs championing diversity, equality and inclusion are lost and health of our communities suffer. My hope is that every Canadian will consider and act on all they can do to make the sector stronger by using their voice and financial means.