There’s an old saying that goes, “it’s better to give than to receive.” And as the holidays approach, we are reminded how true that is of countless Canadians who open their pocketbooks every year to help those in need.
A 2012 Statistics Canada report on charitable giving found nearly 24 million of us—or 84% of the population aged 15+—made a financial donation to a charitable or non-profit organization, for a total of $10.6 billion. Canadians clearly understand the importance of philanthropy.
Yet we often receive questions from many of you wondering if there’s a right or appropriate amount to give.
According to a 2010 Ipsos survey, the majority of Canadians believe the answer is 3% of income (based on an average annual household income of approximately $65,000.)
The survey also asked nearly 1,000 people across the country what they thought was a “fair and reasonable” amount to give at different income levels. As income levels got higher the answers as a percentage of income also rose.
At $200,000, for example, the majority of respondents said approximately 5% was an appropriate amount to give. This dipped to 1.8% for a personal annual income of $30,000.
In reality, however, according to Revenue Canada T1 tax returns, we only average about 0.8% of income, says John Hallward, founder and chairman of the GIV3 Foundation, a Montreal-based non-profit whose mission is to encourage Canadians to give more time and money to causes they’re passionate about. GIV3 is also involved in educating Canadians about the impact of their giving as individuals—and collectively.
Hallward explains how even a small increase in annual giving could add up to big change for society at large. “We know Canadians care—and that we have the capacity to give,” says Hallward. “If we could get Canadians from 0.8% to 1%, that’s a $2 billion gain annually to the non-profit sector. If you can double that to 1.5% that’s an $8 billion gain,” he adds.
That’s a significant amount of additional funds to invest in important causes—here at home and globally—ranging from medical innovation and the environment to poverty and human rights.
Hallward adds: ”In a sense, we have a moral obligation to give back for all of the benefits we have received from prior generations of donors. If you can’t give money, you can contribute in other ways. You can volunteer, give blood or even teach a child the importance of donating $5 from their piggybank.”
“Philanthropy is very emotional and very personal,” he adds. “My advice to donors is to invest in causes they’re involved in and passionate about. It should actually feel good to give.”
Now we want to hear from you. Do you agree? Is there a right amount to give?