December 13, 2017 10:05 pm

Donations are spiking in the Okanagan as a study shows them dropping across Canada

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Canadians are not opening up their wallets like they used to, according to a new “generosity index” study by the Fraser Institute.

The total amount donated by Canadians — 0.56 per cent of income — is the lowest amount in a decade and down from a 10-year peak of 0.78 per cent in 2006, according to the report.

“We are seeing fewer Canadians donate to charity, and the amount is declining,” said Charles Lammam with the Fraser Institute on Wednesday.

But it appears that the Okanagan is bucking the trend.

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Charities in Penticton contacted by Global Okanagan said donations are actually up.

The Salvation Army has raised $58,000 as part of its kettle campaign.

“We are about $7,000 ahead of this day last year, and people are so generous in Penticton and [the] area,” said Miriam Leslie, pastor at the Salvation Army in Penticton.

Meanwhile, the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation has raised $15 million for the Penticton hospital expansion.

“The number of donors has increased a little bit but what we’ve really seen is people are giving a lot more. They really like the idea of the new tower and they’re giving a lot more because of it,” said executive director Carey Bornn.

The Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen, which distributes community grants through endowment funds, said it raises up to $600,000 every year.

“We tend to get the same average of donations every year and that hasn’t changed in the past few years at all,” said executive director Aaron McRann.

Penticton residents say the numbers showing a decline in charitable donations might not tell the whole story, as smaller donations may not make it on tax forms.

“Often we will donate in smaller portions, or donate in kind,” said Penticton resident Beth Smith.

“I know people that give away Safeway gift cards to people, that won’t show up on your tax return,” added Penticton resident Kevin Harvey.

While the numbers suggest Canadians on average are giving less, it seems the Okanagan’s philanthropic spirit is thriving.

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