Editor’s note: This article previously stated Canadians donated $9 million to charity in 2015. The correct amount is $9 billion.
Giving back is a key part of the holiday season, which means many Canadians are gearing up to share some cash with those in need.
According to Statistics Canada, 21 per cent of Canadians claimed charitable donations in 2015. Those who gave money dished out a median of $300. As a nation, more than $9 billion was given to charity over the year — that’s up 3.8 percentage points from 2014.
Here’s how Canadians can make sure their hard-earned money is being given to the right place and will be used well.
Plan your donation
Before donating money to a charity, there are a few things to consider. For one, it’s important to know how much you can afford to give. It’s a good idea to budget charity expenses into your budget.
Marina Glogovac, the CEO of online charity portal Canada Helps, told Global News that while many people give in December, planning to give throughout the year is more helpful.
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“One of the biggest challenges for charities, especially the smaller ones that depend on donations, is the unpredictability of their cash flow,” she explained. “They spend a lot of time chasing donations and most of them come in December.”
Glogovac recommends committing to more ongoing support, for example, donating through monthly installments.
How to pick the right charity
With so many worthy causes, deciding which organization to give money to can be difficult. Giving to a cause that’s personal is often the most rewarding.
Once you’ve narrowed down the cause, choosing the charity involves some research. It’s important to pick a charity that’s registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (you can look it up here) that provides donation receipts for tax credits and abides by strict standards.
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Within registered charities, there are a few options. Picking the charity that really needs monetary help, and will also use the money wisely, is crucial.
Glogavac notes that both small and large charities need help, but bigger organizations often receive help from the government and companies.
“Small charities really depend on donors like you and I a lot more,” she notes.
“So I can argue that your dollar will go further if you give money to a smaller charity, because they just need it more. They need it to survive, they need it to run.”
When it comes to administration and operating costs, comparing one charity to another isn’t always fair, she warns, noting they all have different sizes and mandates.
Glogavac explains that every type of charity is worthy of help — as long as it is producing real results. She adds that people should do in-depth research on a charity they want to support, and even call them up to ask questions.
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Ways of giving money
Donations can be made in several ways — from volunteering time to sending canned goods to food banks — but, even within monetary donations, there are many options.
People can set up ongoing donations through monthly payments, securities and mutual funds, and give charitable gifts. For those who may not have the financial ability to give their own money, fundraising with friends, family or colleagues is always a good option.
There are several other smaller ways to squeeze the spirit of giving into daily activities. For example, a recent Angus Reid poll revealed that many Canadians opt to donate a dollar or two at the cash register while shopping.