REPORT | The Giving Report 2024: From Disconnection to Action

publication date: Apr 17, 2024
author/source: Duke Chang

Individualism. Polarization. Anger. Disconnection. These harmful societal shifts existed before the pandemic, but grew significantly as we were forced to stay home and apart. We lost opportunities to connect with those we knew and those we didn’t, and opportunities to build empathy for others and their points of view. Now, as we are on the other side of the pandemic but continuing to feel the financial and social impacts broadly and within the charitable sector, an important question remains: what would it take to move Canadians from disconnection to action?

This is the theme we explored in CanadaHelps’ seventh edition of The Giving Report, where our research found worrisome trends in connection, giving behaviours, and commitment to the causes Canadians say they care most about, like climate change. We have an opportunity to cultivate communities around the vital work charities do in order to turn the tides on the giving trends we are facing that put our sector at risk.

Some of the highlights that can be found in this year’s report, which was supported by Imagine Canada and presenting sponsor and data provider, Environics Analytics, include:

  • The number of Canadians making charitable donations has declined again. This is reflected in taxfiler data, showing donation rates declined from 21.9 percent in 2013 to 17.7 percent in 2021, the most recent year for which we have data. Like in previous years, the increases in the total value of donations in Canada were attributed to a shrinking group of donors. Relying on this group to continue to have the capability and willingness to give more and more becomes an even greater risk to the sustainability of charities in times of economic uncertainty.
  • There’s a gap between what Canadians say is important to them and the action they are taking, and many Canadians are feeling paralyzed when faced with big problems like climate change. Thirty-two percent of Canadians say climate change or protecting our environment is a top cause for them, and almost half (48 percent) of Canadians express anxiety about climate change on at least somewhat of a regular basis. Yet, only 1.5 percent of donations through CanadaHelps are made to environmental charities.
  • People need hope to support the environment. Our data found a statistically significant difference in giving rates to environmental charities from those with lower hope: 18 percent of those very hopeful for the nation’s future donated to environmental causes, compared to one percent of those who stated they are very hopeless. Potential donors to these causes in particular need to see that their gift can make a difference.
  • Disconnected Canadians are less likely to give money and time. Canadians are increasingly disconnected and their social networks have shrunk. Over the past decade, the number of close friends Canadians have has declined by 40 percent, and just under half of Canadians feel lonely. We see a strong link to philanthropy: more than 80 percent of those with many close friends donate, while just over half of those with very few close friends donate.

Social networks foster prosocial behaviours like giving and volunteering, and they are essential for a strong society. We have an opportunity to rebuild the connections that were lost during the pandemic and to cultivate communities around our causes. If we can take Canadians from disconnection to action, we can begin to reverse the downward giving trends we see year after year, and also to strengthen our society as a whole so we can be more resilient to current and future crises.

In this year’s edition of The Giving Report, we dive deeper into these themes and much more, and include many actions you can take to start cultivating community around your cause. Download the report at CanadaHelps.

Duke Chang is the President and Chief Executive Officer at CanadaHelps, a leader in providing powerful fundraising and donation technology to charities and donors since 2000.

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