BUT I have to admit that I'm regretting not having a subscription to the Globe and Mail this weekend as they are providing some in-depth coverage on the state of charities and philanthropy. As with most news these days, I heard about this via Twitter.
The Globe and Mail has created, in addition to a number of excellent articles, a great interactive information resource showing giving by the numbers. The coverage does an excellent job of addressing the need for charities to ask better in a tougher Canadian market and for the public to give smarter by evaluating fit and impact when they give.
I loved this Donation Action Plan chart:
1. Those who give are predominantly older individuals with a significant drop in donation dollars coming from those aged 35-44.
2. There is a huge pressure on corporations to use their donation dollars in a more strategic fashion and on the overall, there has been a large drop in corporate charitable contributions.
3. Canada still provides strong support for social services with roughly 43% of charity revenue coming from taxpayer's dollars. Donation dollars from individuals have decreased in recent years and the number of those giving has dropped dramatically.
4. The use of donation tax-shelter schemes (the majority of which are under heavy scrutiny by the CRA) has been wide-spread enough to actually skew the overall statistics.
Is the system in trouble?
Charities need to be serious about marketing to a new breed of Canadian that is looking for accountability, transparency and impact. The new breed of philanthropists want to see themselves as investors and partners, not ATMs. It's also time to put serious effort into engaging younger generations and building relationships with new sets of donors - how else can the system be sustainable as the bulk of those participating in giving ages?
No one wants to lose the good work done for our society by the thousands of agencies that make life better for Canadians every day. There is clearly interest in giving when it comes with very generous tax concessions (as the popularity of donation tax-shelter schemes has demonstrated). What can we be doing to increase and promote the idea of investing in Canada's charitable sector in a fair and legislated way? Are you, as a donor, seeking out advice about the various (legitimate) ways to give on a tax-reduced basis? Do you regularly evaluate the service and satisfaction that you receive from the charities that you are supporting?
I applaud the Globe and Mail for opening and exploring this topic so intelligently and in such great depth. The third sector remains a bit of a mystery in the public consciousness, but it plays such a vital role in Canadian society.
I'd also like to thank Paul @UinvitedU for his coverage of the feature via Twitter.