Today marks the fourth and final instalment in the State of Giving in Canada, an independent study conducted by the Angus Reid Institute into how Canadians support charity. To learn more about the study, you can check out my first article in the series.

The final section of this study looks at how new Canadians—recent immigrants, and the children of immigrants—support charity.

There’s some valuable information there about what the future holds for the donor landscape in Canada. I’ll discuss it later in the article. For now, though, I’d like to take a “meta” view of all four components of the study, and sketch out the big picture.

Overall, 71% of Canadians say they feel a personal obligation to make the world a better place. But the percentage of them who support and engage with charity seems to contradict that high number. A recent release from the Fraser Institute shows the number of Canadians giving charitably has hit a ten-year low. 

What are the obstacles to giving? Where are there opportunities to engage more Canadians in giving? And how does CHIMP’s mission tie into the data?

Let’s get started.

Obstacles to Giving

Standing out from the data are two major obstacles that prevent Canadians from giving more to charity.

1. Lack of Confidence

Overall, Canadians are unsure about giving to charity. When asked, 61% say they would give more if they “had more confidence in the whole thing.”

They’re also cynical—or perhaps realistic—about some fundraising methods.

Have you ever bought something in a store, and the label guaranteed a dollar or two from the sale would go to a person in need? “Shop for a cause,” wherein businesses direct some of their profit to charity, has become more popular in recent years.

However, 68% of respondents say these fundraising methods are purely meant to improve the company’s public image.

So, not only do many Canadians lack faith in the charitable sector, they feel disconnected from the fundraising experience.

My hope is that, by using the CHIMP platform, donors will be able to take giving into their own hands, and give proactively—without having to put up with fundraising techniques they distrust and dislike. And when you donate through a CHIMP account, you get a tax receipt immediately, and create the time to connect with the charities you are most confident in.

2. Lack of Knowledge and Engagement

Practicing charity more proactively doesn’t just help build trust in charity as a whole. It should also be a way for donors to self-educate about the best ways to make an impact.

I might draw an analogy to hockey. The more you study the game—different plays and strategies, its history, the science behind how players move, and so on—the better you’ll perform as a player. And the better experience you’ll have as a fan, watching the game.

So my alarm bells went off when I saw how much, or how little, Canadians reported learning about charity at the same time that they were making donations.

Only 28% of Canadians said that they’d learned more about charity over the past year. At the same time, 60% said they’d learned nothing at all—and 12% were more confused about the whole thing.

Oh boy. How are you supposed to become a more impactful donor if you’re not learning while you give?

With CHIMP, we start to address this by empowering donors with their own charitable account where they can store their donations while they decide which charities to ultimately give to.

Opportunities for Giving

Even if there are factors blocking Canadians from giving, there are powerful opportunities to develop and learn from existing active donors. I’ve identified three—and one of them is new Canadians.

1. The Super Donor

The Angus Reid Institute identified a class of charity-supporting individuals they call “Super Donors.”

In brief, a Super Donor is someone who gives more to charity than other groups. Most importantly, they give proactively—choosing which causes matter to them, and supporting them, without waiting for a fundraising appeal.

What’s most exciting to me is that the study shows, to some degree, how Super Donors come to be.

It starts when they’re young.

According to the study, of those respondents who reported speaking about charity with their parents when they were younger, fully two-thirds grew up to become Super Donors.

At the same time, only one-third of those who didn’t discuss charity at home went on to become Super Donors.

It’s a difference of 100%. And it points a way forward for charitable adults: whether or not you’re a Super Donor, talking to your kids about charity as they grow up—maybe even including them in decisions such as which causes to support—increases the likelihood they’ll go on to become charitable adults.

Canadians seem to intuitively recognize the value of early charitable education. Fully 89% of respondents believe charity should be taught in schools.

CHIMP is making some inroads in that regard. Our Play Better program rewards kids, through organized sport, with charity dollars they can use to make their own giving decisions.

And our Charitable Allowance program works with teachers in the classroom, setting kids up with funds they can give to the charities of their choice, and educating them about how they can choose where to give.

So long as we press forward with efforts to develop the next generation of Super Donors, the future looks bright.

2. Millennials

While it’s true that financial obstacles faced by millennials may be getting in the way of “adult” buying decisions (including support for charity), they demonstrate a clear desire to give.

When asked, 37% of millennials said they believe they should be doing more to support charity. That’s more than any other age group.

And they’re engaging with charity in new ways. One-third of millennials responded to a fundraising request on social media, while less than one-fifth of the rest of the population did the same.

Millennials respond less to TV and phone appeals than any other age cohort. At the same time, they’re more likely to share and respond to fundraising requests and stories about charity on social media than any other age bracket.

I see millennials as the generation that will rewire how fundraising works, by teaching us how to be more proactive givers. They’re an even larger age cohort than the Baby Boomers, and as they continue to develop economically, they’ll have a huge influence on the charitable sector.

The CHIMP platform connects with millennials by giving them a fast, online, socially-shareable giving tool. In my mind, it’s a hint of what donor-centred giving tools will look like in the future.

3. New Canadians

Part Four of the Angus Reid study looks at the giving habits of first- and second-generation Canadians—those who were born outside Canada, or those whose parents were.

This part of the study showed that new Canadians overwhelmingly gave more to charity than the general population. About one third of them were Super Donors, while less than one-fifth of the general population qualify as the same.

And, more than the rest of the population, new Canadians feel they should be doing more to support charity. About four in ten say so, while among the general population, three in ten feel they could be doing more.

Religiosity also plays a role. Among the general population, 46% say religious beliefs have a strong influence on their charitable activities. For new Canadians, that number is 71% for first-generation immigrants, and 55% for second.

Second-generation Canadians also gave less to religious or ethnic/cultural causes than their parents. But otherwise, across the board, they effectively matched their forebears in the amount they gave to every other category of charity.

Also, large numbers of new Canadians participate in remittance—sending money to family in other countries. These money transfers may not qualify as “charity,” per se, but they speak to a strong social fabric and sense of sharing.

The fact that, even controlling for religiosity, second-generation Canadians give as much to charity as their parents do suggests to me that new Canadians have it right when it comes to developing Super Donors.

It’s outside of the purview of this study to go into specific details, but there are questions we could be asking: to what extent does education at home help shape second-generation Canadians’ giving habits? What roles do close-knit communities and family structures play?

In any case, Canada is a nation of immigrants—built, sustained, and shaped by newcomers to our country. To me, their giving spirit and sense of altruism can teach all Canadians about giving.

I’d like to take a moment to thank the Angus Reid Institute for carrying out the State of Giving in Canada study, and all the participants who were involved. Together, we’ve started a new conversation about the charitable behaviours of Canadians.

The results of this study should give anyone who cares about charity a lot to think about. I can’t wait to use this information, and more like it, to continue CHIMP’s growth—and help shape the future of giving in Canada.

The State of Giving in Canada: New Canadians

John Bromley

John is the CEO and Founder of CHIMP, which he launched to empower people to act on their innate generosity. On top of a background in charity entrepreneurship and corporate finance, John is also a TEDx speaker, recovering road bike racer, former 90s hip-hop DJ, and proud father of two boys.

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