Canadians giving more, but not from the younger generations

flagCanada is sometimes criticized for being a country that has no true identity of its own. However, perhaps that is our country’s identity — a sum of its parts, a generous nation that welcomes immigrants as well as supports them abroad.

However, will that hold true with future generations? The obvious answer seems to be yes, but statistics are suggesting otherwise.

Despite our own national economic turbulence in the past decade, it appears we are giving more than ever to prop up other causes. At least that seems to be what new information from Statistics Canada shows. According to a recent article, Canada’s charitable giving doubled in 2013 from 2004, with religious organizations getting the biggest piece of the pie (more than $5 billion, which was 41 per cent of the total donations that year).

It doesn’t seem to be all about the charitable tax writeoffs, although residents of the Prairie provinces see the biggest tax breaks from reporting their giving, according to this 2013 Globe and Mail article (although when surveyed, Statistics Canada determined the Atlantic provinces actually gave the most).

More interesting, a 2015 report from the same source shows that younger Canadians are becoming less likely to donate. That means a small percentage of the aging population is making bigger donations than the younger generations.

However, on the brighter side, the total given out to charities by Canadians in 2013 was almost $13 billion — that averages over $300 per citizen (by my own rough calculations, using the current population). Of course, that’s just an average, but that shows a significant awareness of the world’s needs by Canadians — and that doesn’t include the recent river of money flowing to private sponsorships of Syrian refugees (which young Canadians seem to be engaged in – online, anyway).

Why is this? It could be that younger people are more easily distracted. Experts believe keeping younger people engaged in charities will require more online targeting, such as the successful ALS bucket challenge that went viral and raised $115 million. This kind of marketing will likely keep charities healthy in the future, note experts.

Until then, there are many causes to open your wallet for — so embrace being Canadian and donate to helping someone this year. Don’t wait for an ad to pop up on your favourite social network. Think of a cause that means something to you, and seek it out. Set an example for others. Canadians should give without being asked, and that will keep us on the map as a generous country.